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Ice Dam Removal

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Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Sparkling icicles hanging from bushes and tree branches may seem like pure winter wonder, but when those same icicles hang off the sides of your roof, that wonder should quickly turn to worry. Once formed, these large chunks of snow and ice – known as ice dams – can cause tremendous damage. It's important to learn safe, effective methods for ice dam removal so you can avoid the most expensive repairs and keep your family and guests safe this season.

The Danger of Ice Dams on Your Roof

The most immediate dangers of ice dams include significant damage to your shingles, gutters and downspouts. There is also the risk of injury and even death for anyone standing below a sharp icicle that breaks off and plummets to the ground. The longer ice dams remain in place, the greater threat they pose. Snow will continue to accumulate on your roof all season, melting and refreezing along the edge of your roof and growing the ice dam in size. Moisture from the heavy block of snow and ice can slowly seep below your shingles, damaging both interior building materials and rooms, from your insulation to your attic and any belongings that might be stored there. This leakage and moisture can ultimately lead to mold growth, as well. Avoid the greatest risks by learning how to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. If you weren't able to get your home and roof ready in time or an ice dam formed despite your best efforts, the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® are here with the ice dam removal tips you need to break it up both safely and effectively.

Ice Dam Removal Tips

Your first instinct may be to hack away at the ice dam with a chisel or something equally sharp. While this is a great approach to break up the ice in your cooler or ice bucket, it's not the best idea when it comes to removing ice dams on your roof. You could end up hacking into and damaging your shingles or the roof itself, which is what you want to avoid! Instead, use a push broom or roof rake to clear as much of the snow and ice off your roof as possible – especially before the next round of heavy melting. You may even be able to sweep or rake the entire ice dam off the roof in a solid chunk.

Safety Tip: Whenever you're working on the roof or with a ladder, ask a friend or family member to stay with you in case you need any help or support. Always take the proper safety precautions to avoid slipping, falling or otherwise hurting yourself. On warmer winter days, spraying water from a hose onto the ice dam itself can help melt its foundation and make it easier to break up. Stand a safe distance away from the ice dam when spraying in case it slips off in one piece, and always work from the lowest edge to avoid adding more ice to the top of the dam. If your ice dam is leaking water into your home, ice dam removal becomes more urgent. One stop-gap measure that can provide immediate relief is to break small channels into the dam and allow trapped water to drain off the roof rather into the home. That said, this technique is only temporary since the channels will most likely freeze again quickly. When it comes to removing stubborn ice dams or stopping the structural damage they cause from getting worse, it's often easiest and most effective to call for professional help. Working with professionals who are prepared with the right tools, training and experience protect both your personal safety and the integrity of your home. In addition to safely removing ice dams, the home restoration experts at ServiceMaster Restore® can provide a custom solution for any water extraction or water damage restoration that may be required inside your house so that you, your family and your home can get back to enjoying the holiday season and having a happy new year.