How to Get Rid of Ice Dams This Winter

The state of Virginia has had an unusual amount of freezing weather in the past few months. As
temperatures drop, icicles are prone to form along the eaves and gutters of your home. While they may add to the winter wonderland ambiance, they can also do serious damage to your home, if left alone.

Why are they such a problem? Ice dams, essentially a ridge of icicles that build up along the gutters, can prevent water from running off the roof as it normally does. Instead, the ice creates a dam that causes water to back up behind it, sitting for prolonged periods on your roof and potentially seeping under the shingles. It goes without saying that water coming into your house is a very bad situation. Not only can it ruin your insulation, but it can also cause sagging, discoloration, and lead to mold growth.

As you continue to heat your house and warm air collects in the attic, the ice dam problem will only grow worse. Warm air in the attic melts the snow on your roof, then refreezes when it hits the cold eaves and gutters, forming the dam.

If you notice ice dams forming along your roof this winter, try these quick and easy tips for getting rid of them:

  • Cut a channel for water to escape the dam. Be very careful not to damage your roof!
  • Remove the snow from your roof with a roof rake
  • Use calcium chloride to melt the ice dam
  • Invest in ice melting cables

While these tips may help you in the moment, the best option is to prepare before winter to ensure your home remains ice dam free! To avoid ice dams in the future:

  • Increase attic floor insulation
  • Make sure gutters are cleaned in the fall
  • Put flashing around the chimney
  • Seal around any wires entering the attic
  • Make sure all vents open to the outside
  • Make sure soffit vents are clear
  • Insulate your attic hatch
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