How to Avoid Ice Dams this Winter

January 16, 2020

How to Avoid Ice Dams this Winter

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting cold snaps from mid-December through the end of February, and some regions of Michigan are already experiencing winter storm advisories. For homeowners in Sterling Heights, that means it’s time to get prepared now to protect their home from the potentially devastating effects of ice dams.

While there are few scenes more beautiful than a row of icicles glistening in the sunshine, these lovely hunks of ice can actually become a serious problem that may cause damage to the roof or siding of the home. Left alone, these icicles can turn into ice dams, and ice dams mean trouble for Michigan homeowners.

What Causes An Ice Dam?

An ice dam forms when snow melts on the roof and drips down into the eaves and gutters. If it can’t drain, it freezes there and starts backing up on the roof, creating a damming effect. This results in those beautiful icicles along the roofline. However, as this ice gets bigger, it gets heavier, putting stress on the eaves and gutters. In addition, it causes water to back up behind the ice dam, pooling in places where it shouldn’t. This pooled water may penetrate the roof or flow down exterior walls and seep out between sections of siding. If this situation is allowed to go on too long, homeowners will need to call in a residential roofing contractor in Clinton Twp. for help.

Signs of Trouble

Roofers in Sterling Heights agree that there are several signs that can be watched for that give a hint that ice dams might be forming. As noted above, water leaking from the seams in the siding is one hint. Here are others to watch for:

  • Signs of water intrusion. Water can cause major damage to many parts of the house. Look for signs of water intrusion during winter months. This could include puddles on floors, stains on ceilings, buckling hardwood floors, or damp areas in the basement framing above the foundation. These are the most likely areas for water to appear in an ice dam situation.
  • Ice build-up at the eaves. While not all icicles lead to ice dams, it’s a sure bet that discolored ice is a sign that something has gone awry and needs to be checked out by roofers. This “dirty” ice means that water has gotten into the roof. Have this situation checked out immediately.
  • Ice forming in places it shouldn’t. Another warning sign that ice is damming is when it can be seen building up in unusual places. Keep an eye on soffits and siding on your Sterling Heights home. If you see ice forming in either of these places, you may have ice dams building up.

Removing Ice Dams

If ice dams are found to be forming on your home, it’s crucial to remove them as quickly as possible to prevent the build-up of water and subsequent damage to your property. Here are a few ways to get rid of ice dams when they are spotted dangling from the house.

  • Use a roof rake. Using a roof rake after a heavy snowfall is a good way to prevent ice dams from forming. This long-handled tool is the only safe way to remove snow from a rooftop in the winter. Rake the snow off as much of the roof as you can reach, preferably four feet from the roof edge at a minimum. Never climb up on the roof during the winter. Use a light touch with the rake so you don’t damage the roofing shingles. By getting as much snow off the roof as possible, there’s less up there to melt, flow, and freeze.
  • Chip it off. If you don’t own a roof rake, you might be able to chip the ice off by hand using an ice pick, chisel, or small hatchet. While this is a good short-term fix, you’ll soon find the ice forming again and will have to repeat this process. Prevention is key in this situation. Read on for more prevention tips.
  • Use an ice melt product. Ice melt, or calcium chloride, is a viable solution if you can reach your roof safely. Putting down ice melt helps keeps the water flowing off the roof instead of freezing in the eaves.
  • Call in residential roofing pros in Clinton Twp. If you have severe ice dams or your roof is particularly high or steep, it is best to call in roofing professionals to remove the ice dams. Many professional roofers in Sterling Heights offer this service during the winter months. Professional roofers have the right equipment and the expertise to safely and efficiently remove serious ice dams from your home, preventing any water infiltration in the roof or elsewhere.

Prevention is Best

While it’s great to know how to remove ice dams once they form, it’s even better to know how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Prevention is the key to eliminating ice dams during the winter months. Here are a few ways to keep them from forming.

  • Keep the attic cold. The main cause of ice dams is snow melting off the roof. If the attic is kept at a temperature colder than freezing, the snow won’t melt. Adding insulation to the ceiling below the roof keeps warm air trapped inside the home. The colder the attic is, the more likely you’ll be able to prevent ice dams from forming.
  • Increase airflow. Another way to maintain a cold temperature in the attic is to increase the ventilation under the roof deck. Cold outside air circulating through the attic prevents it from warming up above freezing, which keeps the snow on the roof from melting. 
  • Keep gutters clean. One of the easiest solutions is to keep gutters clean and free of debris throughout the year. The better water can flow from the roof, the less likely it will freeze and start the damming process.

Roofing Repair in Sterling Heights

Anyone in need of help preparing their home for winter should give a trusted roofer a call in the area. The best options will offer a convenient consultation to help homeowners determine what services they need.

Contact Kanga Roof today to learn more about roofing in Clinton Twp. Check out our current specials or click here to schedule your consultation and 26 Point Roofing and Exterior Safety Inspection with one of our Exterior Renovation Specialists.  You can also contact us at 586-566-0308, complete the request form on this page or email us at  The “Burkhardt Boys” look forward to “Hopping To It” for you today!



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