Ice dams are an unfortunate but common occurrence here in the Midwest that too often go unaddressed. And once they take root, they can quickly take a toll on the surrounding structure of a building, causing more than just leaks. 

It isn’t easy to remove an ice dam on your own, let alone repair the aftermath, leading folks to make mistakes as they try to address the problem. While it can be tempting to head up to your roof and start banging away at the ice, doing so is more likely to damage the roof and make matters even worse. 

That’s why it’s vital to prevent them from occurring, as well as address them as soon as possible.

What Causes Ice Dams?

An ice dam is a large block of ice that forms along the lower edge of a rooftop, typically after a heavy snow or series of snowfalls. As water from melting ice runs down toward the overhang of the roof, it freezes and causes a growth of ice to pile up. Eventually, the ice blocks water from dripping off the edge, trapping it on the surface behind the dam. 

Having nowhere to go, that backup of water eventually finds its way downward and into the home. A reservoir of water makes its way under the shingles and before too long is leaking into the room below. 

How Can You Prevent Ice Dams on Your Rooftop?

Start by taking steps to prevent ice dams from occurring in the first place. To do so, it helps to have a solid, well-designed and well-built rooftop in the first place. There is an art to an expertly designed roof. Have a professional roofer perform an examination to detect signs of construction deficiencies or wear and tear that could create a more vulnerable environment. 

Another possible mitigation is to reduce heat exposure beneath the roof within the structure. The home will still need to be heated. But you might want to examine the insulated space between your ceiling and rooftop and, if necessary, add insulation between the two. Even small air leaks can cause the warmer air to travel upward and melt the snow above.

What Should You Do If an Ice Dam Forms on Your Roof?

If one is already forming, keep in mind that the ice doesn’t have to be removed entirely to stop a leak. You might get lucky and notice no leaking at all. If the buildup is increasing, a temporary solution might involve creating a pathway in the ice for the water to clear away. Some people find a way to apply rock salt to the affected area. However, it cannot be stressed enough: accessing rooftops can be quite dangerous, even for trained professionals, and is usually not recommended. 

Before taking measures into your own hands, have a professional contractor with experience treating weather-related problems examine the area to determine the best way forward. They can assess the type of roof you have, whether an ice dam has started to form, and other possible factors.

Contact Illinois-Based Harris Exteriors for Rooftop Repairs This Winter

Some roof repair work can be done in the wintertime, but a full roof replacement usually requires weather above a certain temperature. Because each home is unique, it’s important to first talk to a trustworthy roofing expert so you know you’re getting the most appropriate and reliable solution for your home.

Want a stronger roof this winter? Harris Exteriors assesses, repairs and replaces roofs throughout the greater Chicagoland area. Call us or contact us online for a free estimate today.

A roof and chimney covered in snow.