Either you waited too long to ice-proof your roof, or a winter storm caught you by surprise. Maybe you just didn’t have time to take the necessary preventive measures. Whatever the reason, you now have an ice dam sitting atop your gutters and roof. Ignoring this problem can possibly lead to roof and gutter damage, water leaks, and other problems. So you have to do something about that ice dam … but what?
Here are five ways to remove an ice dam from your roof.
1. Eliminate its “fuel source.” If left alone, the ice dam will continue to be built up by the snow and ice up on your roof. So the first step is to remove this ice and snow using a snow rake, which is a retractable rake that can extend up to about 17 feet or so in length. Stand on the ground (not on the roof or ladder) and use this rake to scrape the existing snowpack down off your roof. Pull the snow toward you; don’t use a side-to-side motion because doing so could dislodge shingles.
2. Chip away. An ice pick or awl is best for this task, though a crowbar or hatchet can work too. Standing on a stabilized ladder or other sturdy object, reach into the gutter and chip away at the ice buildup, starting at the gutter and working backward up the roof (being careful not to damage the roof itself). You don’t have to remove all of the ice — just enough so that a channel is created for the melted snow and ice to run through your gutters.
3. Use a chemical de-icer product. These products contain urea fertilizer, ammonium sulfate, calcium magnesium acetate, or potassium chloride; and are sold at hardware and home improvement stores usually in tablet or crystal form. Following the label instructions, sprinkle or distribute the substance along the top of the ice in your gutter. It will slowly melt the ice, and the substances will drain out of your gutters with the water.
4. Reuse old stockings or panty hose. Fill these garments with a chemical de-icer and seal off the ends. Then lay them atop your ice-filled gutters and allow the contents to leak through the stockings or hose and melt the ice. This may take some time and require repositioning of the garments.
5. Spray warm water. This is only a stopgap solution, but it can produce immediate results. Obtain some hot or warm water and pour it into a spraying device of some kind (large spray bottle, lawn fertilizer canister, etc.). Then spray the water along the ice to loosen it up. But unless a warming trend strikes your area, the warm water will eventually turn cold and freeze — so use this in conjunction with the other approaches listed above.
Long Term Solution – Helmet Heat®
Helmet Heat® is a self regulating heating system that melts snow and ice before it can form into damaging mounds weighing down on your roof, gutters, and downspouts. Helmet Heat® is wired throughout your gutters and downspouts. With it, snow melts before it hits the eaves of your roof and water flows down your heated gutters and downspouts. Damaging snow and ice buildup is averted.