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How To Prevent or Remove a Roof Ice Dam


During the winter months, it is easy to feel so comfortable in your warm and dry home that you forget about the damage that could be potentially occurring to the outside of your home. You will not as easily forget this when your roof starts to leak or your basement floods because of an ice dam that is preventing water from being efficiently removed from the areas around your house. The fact is, winter is the season with the most potential home damage. Low temperatures and high levels of precipitation can destroy a house's foundation or roof. One of the most devastating winter occurrences is an ice dam in your gutter system. An ice dam will completely block your gutter system and cause water to build up on your roof or seep into the ground around your home and cause flooding or damage to your foundation. You can identify an ice dam when you see huge icicles around the outside of your home. These icicles are an indication that water is not being drained out of your gutters and is instead spilling over and freezing.

What Causes an Ice Dam

An ice dam is caused by fluctuating temperatures during the days and nights of the winter months. When snow or ice accumulates on the roof of your house, it is melted during the day when the sun shines on it. Because many roofs are black, they can heat up and quickly melt away snow. However, when the sun goes down and temperatures slide below freezing again, this water will turn to ice inside your gutter or downspout. Because this ice is not exposed to the sun, it may stay frozen for weeks, causing more and more water to accumulate and freeze.

Preventing a Roof Ice Dam with a Heating Cable

You can prevent and even remove an ice dam with a properly installed roof heating cable. A cable uses an electric current to generate heat that will melt ice and restore your gutters to their proper working condition. It is important to hire a professional to install your roof heating cable. An improperly installed cable can cause electrical issues and will not effectively remove ice buildup from your roof and gutters.

Preventing a Roof Ice Dam with Insulation and Ventilation

You can also prevent an ice dam by making sure that the attic of your house is properly insulated and ventilated. Attics that do not have proper ventilation will quickly cause water to melt and freeze in rapid succession. When your attic is ventilated and insulated, the temperatures of your roof will be more consistent so that this rapid melting and refreezing doesn't occur. You can hire a professional to evaluate the ventilation and insulation of your attic and make necessary repairs or adjustments.

Ice Removal Risks

It is very dangerous to attempt to remove ice from your roofs and gutters without the service of a professional. Ice is extremely heavy and sharp, and if it falls on you it can cause serious injury or even death. Roofs that are frozen are extremely treacherous, and many injuries occur every year to people who climb up on frozen roofs to try to restore gutters to their properly working conditions. You should always hire a professional to remove the ice dams from your roof and gutters. A professional can accurately evaluate the severity of your ice dam and use his or her expertise and professional experience to safely remove this ice without risking personal injury or further damage to your roof by causing a gutter system to become dislodged from your house.

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