Ice Dams – What Are They and What Can You do About Them?

Dec 14, 2022Blog, Ice Dams, Rochester, Roof Damage, Roof Repair

Icicles are so pretty as they hang off the side of a home during the snowy wintery months. However, these chunks of ice are signs of an issue that must be addressed. An icicle means the home is losing heat or there is poor ventilation in the attic. Therefore, your furnace is having to run more to keep the house warm. 

Secondly, icicles can cause bodily harm if they are hanging over an entry doorway. While children may find them fun to hit off, the weight of the hanging ice can be quite heavy, and depending on how they are attached to the house, part of the structure could come down with them.  

Icicles are an indication of a potential ice dam that must be watched closely. Carter Roofing and Exteriors in Rochester understand the complications that ice dams can create. They are well-trained professionals that can evaluate your situation, recommend the best solution, and work with you to prevent future damage. 

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What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice forming on the roof’s edge, preventing melting snow and water from draining off the roof. When warm air in your home tries to escape through the roof, it is blocked by snow and ice. The heat refreezes the snow, causing the roofing material to weaken. 

If not treated, there can be great damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. This predicament can also create soggy insulation in the attic, potentially becoming a magnet for mold and mildew issues. By preparing ahead of time, you can protect your home and prevent expensive future repairs.  

Now that we know exactly what an ice dam is, we need to learn how to stop them from happening. 

What Can I Do To Prevent Ice Dams? 

Heated Cables

One common way of preventing ice dams is to apply heated cables before the winter season arrives. These cables are applied in a zigzag pattern, allowing the roof’s temperature to be stabilized for proper disbursement of the water. Please be careful when clipping heated cables in place, as working on a roof can be dangerous. It is always best to contact a professional if you have doubts about applying the cables. 

Clean out the gutters

It is important to make sure your gutters are clear of any debris as the winter season approaches. Any debris left in the gutters will prevent melting snow and water from properly draining, thus creating a buildup of ice. As this buildup continues, you are on your way to overflowing water and potentially an ice dam. By keeping gutters clean from leaves, pine needles, and plants, the melting water can freely flow through to the downspouts. 

Additionally, the heavy snow and ice accumulated in clogged gutters can be too heavy for the gutter to hold, and unfortunately, begin to rip from the roof. 

Use a snow rake

After a big snowfall, it is good to remove some of the snow from your roof. A snow rake is an aluminum scraper attached to a long pole used to reach your roof and gently pull the snow off of it. It is important to remove the snow so it can’t melt and form an ice dam. Unfortunately, this tool cannot be used on multi-level homes, as it just can’t reach that high. 

Never attempt to use a snow rake while on a ladder! A snow rake is an effective tool to assist in getting the excess snow off of your roof but must be used with caution. For professional assistance, Carter Roofing and Exteriors are able to safely assess your situation. We will treat your home like our own, with respect, caution and care. 

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What are other ways Carter Roofing and Exteriors can assist with my ice dam problem?

  • Ventilate eaves and ridge
  • Cap the hatch
  • Exhaust the outside
  • Add insulation
  • Flash around chimneys
  • Seal ducts
  • Caulk vent pipes

We have the proper equipment and expertise to know how to assess the damage caused by ice dams and work with you to prevent further complications. The sooner you speak with us, the sooner issues can be addressed. Turn to Carter Roofing and Exteriors of Rochester today. 


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