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Icicles can seem beautiful as it hangs from the roof’s eaves, but it can also cause many problems in the form of ice dams. An ice dam is an accumulation of thick ice on the eaves of your roof during the winter.

Ice dam formation is a result of the freeze-thaw cycle. When the warm air inside your home rises and heats up the roof, the snow can melt from the roof’s slope to the eaves, where the liquid re-freezes due to the colder temperature in this area.

As a result, the gutters will be blocked off, preventing water from being properly drained off. When water can’t be drained from the roof, it may back up underneath the roof shingles. Eventually, it can make its way into your home. This can result in damaged, stained ceilings and ruined plants. It can even dampen insulation that attracts mold and mildew.

Once ice dams start to form on your roof, it needs to be eliminated as soon as possible. Removing ice dams immediately can ensure that water drains properly from your roof. This will prevent any further damage not only to the exterior but the interior of your home.

Here is a brief guide on removing the ice dam from your roof to ensure water flows smoothly.

5 Simple Ways to Get Rid of Ice Dams on the Roof [Infographic]

Use a Roof Rake

Before doing anything, homeowners should first visually inspect their roofing. Check areas like the gutters, edges, and downspouts to see where the bulk of ice formations occurred. Once you’ve identified the specific areas where you can find the ice dams, use a snow rake to scrape them off.

Pulling the snow off the roof can be a constant chore, but it’s better than leaving it alone to build upon your roof. Thoroughly raking the first several feet of snow from the eaves before it melts and freezes is enough to prevent ice dam formation on your roof.

Make sure to get rid of as much snow as you can without causing any damage to the shingles. However, using a roof rake could cause shingles to wore out prematurely as it removes the aggregate. Some people use a roof rake with wheels at the bottom to prevent the rake head from rubbing on the shingles.

There are also some risks in raking snow off the roof. Some homeowners would use long-handled rakes to remove snow from their roofs while staying safely on the ground. However, it isn’t practical or possible for two-story homes. Don’t stand on the ladder or the roof surface for your safety, as you can accidentally slip or fall. Instead, seek out assistance from a reliable roofer.

Chip away

Chipping away at the ice typically works. However, there is a chance that your roof sustains unintentional damage. Therefore, it’s essential to choose your hammering tool wisely. An ice pick or awl is a commonly used tool for this task, but you can also use a rubber mallet to break up the ice. Focus on creating channels to divert water instead of completely breaking apart the ice.

You need to be careful with handling an ice pick. While it may seem small, you can easily poke holes in shingles or sidings or otherwise damage your roof. Even when using a rubber mallet, you should take extra caution when you hack away from the chunks of ice as it can remove shingles.

It can also be a risky task as it requires you to climb up a ladder to access the hard to reach areas where ice dams are present. Standing on a ladder and working at the same time poses the risk of slip and fall. For your safety, make sure that the ladder rests against a sturdy wall away from obstructions.

Apply Ice Melting Products

De-icing products are better when you have a more severe ice and snow problem on your roof. You can check your nearest local hardware or home improvement stores for ice-melting products. They should contain chemicals that can effectively melt ice, including ammonium sulfate, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, and potassium chloride.

Calcium chloride-based products are usually much safer than other chemical de-icers. You can easily cut through the ice by using chunky, rocky de-icer products. Meanwhile, you’ll have to use thicker product layers when using powdery types. Liquid products are suited for thick blocks of ice, but it must be used in mild weather and kept for small areas or patches.

Additionally, avoid sodium chloride-based products or rock salt, as these will surely damage your roof due to their corrosive properties.

As instructed, sprinkle or distribute the product evenly on the affected areas. This will slowly melt the ice, and the substances will drain out of your gutters with the water. However, you should proceed with caution as some products may cause harm or discolor your roof. It can even damage any sensitive plants or shrubs.

Remember to check the labels of your de-icing products for possible warnings. If needed, protect your garden plants by covering them with a tarp.

Use Ice Melt Socks

Ice melt socks are ideal for eliminating ice dams and a much safer alternative than hammering ice dams off the roof. It’s easy to make and use. In most cases, you don’t even need to hire an electrician or a roofer. All you need are scissors, a bucket or bag of calcium chloride ice melt, and a few old nylon stockings. Some people would even use old pantyhose.

Cut off one stocking leg, fill them up with 2-3 pounds of ice melt, and tie up the ends. Next, go up on the roof and lay the socks vertically. One end should be onto the gutter, while the other is up the roof slopes. Space them every three feet. The socks should melt the ice enough to create a channel that would allow the water to run off the roof instead of building up along the eaves and leaking inside.

This may take some time and require repositioning of the garments. Use a long-handled rake or hoe if needed to push them into position.

Spray Warm Water

This method requires you to put warm water into an empty spray bottle and spray it directly into the ice formation until it melts. The idea of this is to melt the ice dams so that the roof and gutters can drain them as per usual.

However, it should only be used in mild temperatures as the warm water can eventually turn cold and freeze. Otherwise, use this in conjunction with the other approaches listed above.

Keep in mind that these are short-term solutions for this problem. Removing ice dams can generally be done by homeowners. However, there are both risks of roof damage and personal danger because of slippery conditions.

For your own safety and protection, go for the long-term solution of preventing the issue in the first place. Keep your roof in good condition, no matter the weather, with a team of expert roofers who dedicate themselves to maintaining and keeping your roof.