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How To De-Ice Your Roof

January 07, 2019

Icicles may seem like part of a picture-perfect winter wonderland, but they can mean trouble for your roof.

Ice dams are formed when thick layers of ice buildup along the eaves and gutters of the roof. These ice formations will then block the normal drainage system. This is where roofing issues may stem from.

The most common reasons for ice dams are:

  • Poor Attic Insulation – An attic with poor insulation allows heat to escape. The heat is responsible for melting the snow above the roof. When it melts, the water will run through the wall and along the usual exit points. However, when there’s not enough heat, the water will naturally refreeze especially during winter forming unwanted ice layers.
  • Lack of Roof Ventilation – Roof ventilation is an important element that releases heat in the right places. However, if your roof has insufficient ventilation, it cannot air out excess heat. Again, the trapped heat will melt the snow. The melted snow could potentially block the drainage system when it refreezes.

Regardless of why they’re there, the fact is that they can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and lead to leaks when the snow starts to melt.    

Here are a few options for de-icing your roof:

Remove Ice Dams Using Snow Rake

First visually inspect your roof to see where the bulk of ice formations are. Check the gutters, edges, downspouts, etc. When you have identified specific areas where you can find ice dams, use a snow rake to remove them. Scrape-off snow build-ups in a downward motion. 

Chip Away Ice Dams Using Ice Pick

Use a ladder to access hard to reach areas where ice dams are present. Make sure that the ladder rests against a sturdy wall away from obstructions. Using an ice pick, reach into the inner parts of gutters and downspouts. Prick the ice dams with caution until they crack and chip away.

Use Warm Water

This is a simple but temporary DIY solution. You need an empty spray bottle and warm water. Put the warm water inside the bottle and spray it on directly to the ice formations until it melts. The idea is to melt the ice dams so that the roof and gutters can drain. 

Keep in mind that, although the above solutions are manageable, handling ice on your roof safely can be complicated. It requires training and experience to do properly. So, if taking on this task seems daunting you can always consult a professional roofer for assistance.

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