Ice dams may seem inevitable if you live anywhere with wintertime temperatures that dip below freezing. However, the truth is that ice dams are actually preventable.

In this article, we want to give you some tips on how to remove and prevent ice dams. These tricks are absolutely worth their weight in gold, as ice dams can cause extensive damage along roofs, gutters and downspouts. Exterior damage can be difficult to fix in cold weather and can be expensive, depending on the extent of the damage.

Furthermore, lingering ice can eventually give way to water seeping into the structure, potentially causing moisture damage in the attic and elsewhere throughout the interior of the home.

Learning how to remove ice dams safely is the first step toward a safer rooftop. In addition, familiarizing yourself with various ice dam prevention methods can help you avoid ice from building up all over again later in the season. You’ll be surprised at how smart and easy some of these solutions are.

Whether you’re dealing with an ice dam now or you’re keen on preventing this issue, it’s best to know how to tackle ice dam issues in all forms so you can avoid expensive repairs and enjoy a more energy efficient home.

How To Remove Ice Dams

Many homeowners think they know how to remove ice dams, but few actually know how to do so safely. Chipping at built-up ice can be extremely dangerous if the proper tool isn’t used.

Oftentimes, homeowners are tempted to crack away at the ice with household tools like shovels, ice scrapers and crowbars. Unfortunately, many people think ice dams are only accessible from the rooftop, and they end up venturing up to the roof only to get hurt in the process.

Not only are these methods inefficient and dangerous to the person attempting them, but they can also result in damage to the home. All too commonly, homeowners tear off or loosen shingles, flashing, soffit and other parts of the exterior while trying to break up an ice dam.

Here are two safer and more practical ways to remove ice dams.

1. Rake Away Excess Snow

Did you know that they actually make rakes designed for rooftops? Roof rakes are built with long handles that allow the homeowner to stay safely on the ground. Wheels near the rake’s teeth allow it to easily glide up and down the roof without much effort. Clearing away excess snow and slush is a great way to help the ice dam break down and melt faster.

2. Calcium Chloride Ice Melter

Calcium chloride is a known ice melter. Instead of sprinkling it around, concentrate the solution by filling a pair of pantyhose with it, tying it into a knot, and positioning it directly on top of the ice dam. This helps the ice dam melt in a single spot and creates a drainage channel that further accelerates melting.

Ice Dam Prevention Solutions

Why deal with ice dams in the first place if you can simply prevent them from forming altogether? Ice dam prevention is fairly simple in theory — the more energy-efficient the home, the less likely ice is to form on the roof.

Here are a few smart ways to strengthen the home’s natural defenses against ice dams and stop the formation of ice before it happens.

1. Heated Cables

De-icing cables can be installed along the roof in a zig-zag pattern just above the gutter. Although they are very effective, heated cables require energy to run, so they’re not considered the most cost-effective or eco-friendly technique for ice dam prevention.

2. Insulation

More insulation along the attic floor can keep heat from your home from entering the attic. By keeping your attic cool, it will prevent snow or ice from higher up on your roof from melting, dripping down to the gutters and refreezing in the colder area, preventing ice dams from forming. When adding insulation, ensure there you don’t block the flow of air at the eaves, as attic soffit vents should never be covered with insulation. If they are covered, they can’t do their job of ensuring proper air flow.

3. Strengthen Seals

Another way to prevent ice dams is to strengthen various seals along the exterior. For example, add flashing around chimneys, seal and insulate HVAC ducts, and consider re-caulking the seams around electrical cables and vent pipes. Similar to adding insulation, this keeps heat from escaping and maintains a surface temperature on the roof that prevents ice from forming.

4. Install Vented Soffit

Ensuring that the home has the correct amount of vented soffit to solid soffit installed is an excellent way to ensure ice dam prevention — perhaps one of the easiest solutions of all. Vented soffit provides effective ventilation and airflow, which is absolutely key to prevent the formation of ice dams. The best way to calculate the amount of vented soffit you need is to have at least one square foot of vent space for every 150 square feet of attic area, but please make sure to check your local building codes as well.

Rollex Aluminum Soffit to Prevent Ice Dams

Aluminum soffit is particularly durable against the elements, and the added ventilation can help homeowners prevent damage from dangerous ice dams. Rollex aluminum soffit is an incredibly low-maintenance product that is a practical solution to ice dam prevention. Contact the soffit specialists at Rollex today for help with your next project.