If you live anywhere in the northern United States or in Canada, you are familiar with the term ice dam. Most people living in the warmer climates of Florida, Arizona or California have no doubt never heard of the term—or have any idea what it means.
But for those of us fortunate to live in lands of constant freezing and thawing temperatures, ice dams are a frequent and damaging occurrence.
For those unfamiliar with the term, the University of Minnesota Extension says an ice dam forms on the edge of a roof when melting snow is unable to completely drain from the roof. The constant freezing and thawing conditions of northern climates is the cause of this phenomenon.
When an ice dam forms, water begins to back up behind it and can leak into the house, causing damage to walls, ceilings and insulation.
To prevent this problem, the U of M Extension suggests removing snow from the roof of your house. By keeping your roof clear from snow, you are eliminating one of the ingredients that can cause ice dams.
Second, if water is flowing into your house, you can make channels through the ice dam, which will allow the water to flow more freely off your roof.
Roof rakes are good tools for removing snow from any roof. It’s important to use these correctly, as they can cause damage to your shingles if used improperly.
Finally, there are companies that specialize in removing ice dams. Many of them use some form of heat to melt the ice that has formed on the edge of your roof.
Ice dams are a regular winter occurrence for millions of people. But by following a few simple steps, you can prevent them from damaging your house.