Roof Ice Dams:

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Roof Ice Dams: Tips and Tricks


Roof ice dams are a common problem faced by homeowners during winter seasons, especially in regions with heavy snowfall. These ice formations can lead to significant damage to your roof and can cause water leaks, resulting in expensive repairs. In this article, we will discuss effective methods to prevent and get rid of roof ice dams, ensuring a safe and well-maintained roof throughout the winter months.

Understanding Roof Ice Dams

Roof ice dams occur when snow on the roof melts, runs down, and refreezes near the roof’s edges. This cycle of freezing and melting creates a barrier, preventing proper drainage, and causing water to back up under the shingles. If left unattended, ice dams can result in leaks, damaged shingles, roof rot, and even structural issues.

Preventing Roof Ice Dams

1. Adequate Insulation:
Ensure that your attic is well insulated to prevent heat from escaping to the roof, causing snow to melt unevenly. Insulating the attic floor and walls, including the hatch or access door, acts as a barrier to keep the heat inside your home.

2. Ventilation:
Proper ventilation helps in maintaining a consistent temperature on the roof, preventing snow from melting too quickly. Install ridge vents, soffit vents, and attic fans to promote air circulation and prevent the accumulation of warm air.

3. Clear Gutters and Downspouts:
Regularly clean your gutters and downspouts from debris, leaves, and ice buildup. Clogged gutters and downspouts hinder proper drainage and contribute to ice dam formation.

4. Snow Removal:
Remove snow from your roof’s edges using a roof rake after heavy snowfall. Keep a distance between the rake and the shingles to avoid any damage. However, it is advisable to hire professionals for this task to ensure safety and prevent accidents.

Getting Rid of Roof Ice Dams

1. Use Calcium Chloride:
Spread calcium chloride ice melter in a nylon stocking across the ice dam to create channels for melting ice to escape. Avoid using rock salt or sodium chloride, as they can damage the roof materials and plants beneath.

2. Warm Water Method:
Fill a nylon stocking with warm water and carefully place it across the ice dam. This method creates a pathway for water to melt through the ice and prevent further backup.

3. Professional Assistance:
If the ice dams persist or the situation becomes dangerous, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from a roofing expert or ice dam removal service. They have the expertise and tools necessary to safely remove the ice dams and prevent any further damage.


Preventing and getting rid of roof ice dams requires a combination of insulation, ventilation, and proactive maintenance. By following the tips mentioned above, you can protect your roof from extensive damage caused by ice dams during winter. Remember, swift action is crucial in addressing ice dams to avoid costly repairs. Stay proactive, maintain your roof’s integrity, and enjoy a winter season free from the troubles of roof ice dams.


Frequent Asked Questions:

1. Can I use salt to melt roof ice dams?
Using salt, such as rock salt or sodium chloride, is not recommended as it can damage your roof materials and harm plants beneath.

2. How often should I clean my gutters to prevent ice dams?
Regularly clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage. It is best to clean them during fall and before the winter season to minimize the chances of ice dam formation.

3. How do I know if my attic insulation is sufficient?
Consult a professional to evaluate your insulation levels. An adequately insulated attic should have insulation that covers the attic floor, walls, and hatch or access door.

4. Can I remove the ice dams myself?
While removing ice dams yourself is possible, it can be risky. It is advisable to seek professional assistance, especially for stubborn and larger ice dams.

5. How long does it take for an ice dam to form?
The time it takes for ice dams to form depends on various factors, including weather conditions, insulation quality, and roof design. In areas with heavy snowfall and inadequate insulation, ice dams can form within a few days.