Frigid temperatures don’t exactly create the ideal setting to make outdoor home repairs. However, when the alternative is expensive damage to both your exterior and interior, you may just need to bundle up and bear the burden.
While the hope is your outdoor to-do list is limited to shoveling snow and warming up the car, the deep freeze of winter may mean ice dams on your roof need your immediate attention.
Damage Caused by Ice Dams
Ice dams happen when a hunk of ice forms at the edge of the roof line and blocks the drainage of melting snow and water into your gutters. In addition to putting your gutters and downspouts at risk for damage, the standing water caught in the dam can leak into the interior of your home causing the need for structural repairs to your roof, ceiling, and walls. And if the excess moisture is not addressed, this can also cause unwanted mold and mildew to form.
Ice Dam Quick Fixes
To keep you out of the cold for any longer than you need to be (or, better yet, all together!), we’ve compiled a few fast remedies to tackle ice dams before they lead to the need for large scale restoration efforts.
- Trap in warm air.One way to avoid entering the elements is to tackle ice dams from forming by adjusting temperatures inside your home. Ice dams tend to form when snow mixes with varied roof surface temperatures. When high roof points are above 32℉ while lower roof points and outside air temps are below 32℉, the snow near the top will melt, trickle down, and create a dam. To prevent this problem, add extra insulation to your attic and roof, which will decrease warm air from escaping as it rises, and thus stop snow and the melting trickle-down effect.
- Freeze the ice dam. Your first instinct might be to chip away at the ice or put salt on it. In theory, these efforts might be effective, but you could end up doing more damage to your roof, exterior and the surrounding landscape than good. If water is leaking into your home, freezing the standing water held in the ice dam prevent further water damage. Use a box fan from the interior of your home and blow the cold air in the direction of where the water is leaking. It should freeze quickly and put an end to your leak.
- Melt the ice dam. While rock salt isn’t a good way to melt the dam due to the damage it can cause to painted siding and metal exteriors, calcium chloride ice melt can make fast work of creating a channel in the ice dam for water passage to the gutter. Fill the leg of a pair of pantyhose with the ice melt and then lay it across the ice dam and gutter; it should be perpendicular to your roof line.
- Hammer it out. Axes and other sharp objects can cause holes in your roof if you try to hack away at an ice dam, and thus should be avoided. However, you can try to lightly tap off chunks of ice with a rubber mallet, taking extra caution not to remove shingles while doing so.
- Clear away snow. Removing excess snow from your roof can help address the changing roof temperature and reduce the formation of ice dams. Hire a professional or use a roof rake with wheels and a long-handle to pull snow from your roof while standing on solid ground. Do not use a shovel or other sharp edged tool, which can damage or tear off shingles.
Remember that while these quick fixes can address the ice dam issue, most are more of a Band-Aid fix than a long term cure. Stop ice dams from ever forming by addressing the root causes of your roof problems. Skilled, professional roof experts can assess your roof and provide solutions your home needs.
If ice dams have already wreaked havoc on your roof and home, our restoration services are available to help get your home back to pre-loss conditions.
Water Damage Restoration Services
When you suffer from damage caused by a frozen or burst pipe, ice dams, flooded basement, or other water loss, saving time could make the difference in hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage. Contact us for water damage clean up service and water damage restoration service immediately.
We provide 24/7 emergency services for homes, businesses, and commercial buildings around Madison, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Waunakee, Portage, Milwaukee, Brookfield, WI Dells, Fort Atkinson, Watertown, Oconomowoc, Waukesha, West Allis, and surrounding Dane County Wisconsin areas.