Popham Construction


Dam that Ice! Prepare to Rake your Roof


Following a storm, clearing walkways are important, but removing snow and icicles from roofs also should be a part of your routine. Why? Ice dams! They’re thick ridges can form of solid ice that build-up along the eaves (the roof’s edge). You may notice a bulging area under a layer of snow above a group of icicles. If you remove the snow buildup, you’ll see an ice ridge known as an ice dam.


How Ice Dams Form

Warm areas of an attic cause snow to melt from the roof even when the outside temperatures are below freezing. When the melted snow runs into colder sections like soffits, valleys, or gutters, it begins to freeze again. This process of thawing and refreezing is what causes an ice dam. The snow that melts above where the ice dam formed is forced to back up and collect under the roof’s shingles. As it pools under the shingles, it can seep into a home.

After a Storm

Remove snow from your roof after every storm. To begin with, use a roof rake to clear snow from the edge of your roof upwards of three to four feet immediately after each storm. Make sure the areas around your gutter downspouts are clear, which prevents water from pooling. Downspout extensions should direct water at least five feet away from your foundation.

Icicles—Double-edged Swords!

As you admire pretty icicles dangling overhead, keep in mind that they’re a key indicator of ice dams. If it appears that removing icicles from your gutters may result in damage to your gutters, call a contractor. If your gutter falls, you’ll have more problems! If you remove icicles, remember that the bigger the icicle, the harder it falls. A cubic foot of ice weighs about 62 pounds. Be safe and don’t stand directly underneath icicles. Carefully knock them away from you using a long handled tool.

Ruined Roofs Result

Ice dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to leak into your house. In addition to forming ice dams, heavy snow and ice can also weaken the structure of your roof. Damaged roofs, gutters, and downspouts can result in peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings—not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which loses R-value and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.

Roof Rakes Rule!

Demonstrate your superior knowledge by being the first on your block to rake your roof. Considering our weather forecast, you should stop at a store on your way home! Be sure to read the rake manufacturer’s instructions before using. The steeper the roof’s pitch, the more rapidly the snow slides off, and right back at you.

Avalanche roof rake

This roof rake, called an Avalanche, moves larger sections of snow.

Roof Rake Recommendations

  • The rake should have small rollers, bumpers, or wheels near the blade of the rake. These are important because they keep the blade of the rake away from the surface of your roof.
  • A roof rake with a slightly bent handle is more versatile and easier to use.
  • Roof rake extensions allow you to reach the farthest parts of your roof.
  • Plastic rakes are lighter to lift. If you prefer an aluminum rake, keep it away from power lines!
Extensions on shovel

Extensions aid snow removal.

How to Melt an Ice Dam

Fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt, and place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam. If you try this, make sure you can safely position the ice melt on your roof, and make sure to use calcium chloride, not rock salt. Rock salt will damage your roof. Also, be aware that shrubbery and plants near the gutters or downspouts may be damaged. You can use pieces of plywood to shield shrubs. If you cannot safely reach the roof, do not use a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. Performing ice dam removal is risking personal injury and damage to the roof if not done properly. Consider hiring a contractor to remove the ice dam.

Long-term Tips for Preventing Ice Dams

Of course, the best time to prepare your home’s exterior for harsh winter weather is not during harsh winter weather! The best defense against ice dams is to insulate your attic. A well-insulated attics can help prevent the melting-and-freezing cycle that causes ice dams to form. Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic, including vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches, and light fixtures. Install a water-repellent membrane. A water repellent membrane underneath the shingles acts as an extra barrier that helps prevent water from seeping into the structure.

Following a storm, routine roof raking and icicle removal are smart steps to prevent possible damage to your home. However, preventing possible damage to yourself is imperative! If you have any doubts, contact Popham. Our certified roofing professionals are trained to care for your home. Please Request a Free Consultation or call us today at (812) 479-5850. Make Plans with Popham!

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Popham Company, Inc., General Contractor, Evansville, IN
4414 Covert Avenue | Evansville, IN

Phone: 812.479.5850 | Fax: 812.473.0848
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