Why Are Ice Dams Dangerous to Your Roof

the dangers of ice dams

Icicles are among nature’s most stunning marvels. It’s always exciting to see them hanging from off your roof. But, the icicles could be a sign of a serious problem – ice dams – on your roof.


An ice dam is a ridge of solid ice that forms at the edge of your roof, along the eaves, that prevents the waters from the melting ice on the roof from flowing down to the ground or gutters.

What causes ice dams?


roof ice dams solutions

Ice dams form in winter when a temperature change causes the snow on the roof to start melting. Temperature changes when the warm moist air from inside the house starts warming up the roof, causing a film of the snow on the roof’s surface to melt into water. The water flows down to the eaves on the edge of the roof, forming a ‘dam.’

The Dangers of Ice Dams 


ice dams on house roofs

Ice dams can wreak havoc on your home. If not drained promptly, they may cause your gutters to tear, and your shingles start to come loose. If the water volume increases considerably, the water may back up, sip through the shingles, and drain to your house. You only see a leaking roof.


There are also other adverse effects you may fail to notice immediately. The leaking roof causes saggy or stained ceilings, soggy attic insulation, and the paint on your walls may start to peel. The plaster on your walls becomes damaged, and your floors may become warped. Your doors may start jamming and you may also start to see cracks forming on your walls.


The moist and warm conditions become an attraction for mold and mildew, which can be a danger to the house occupants’ health. Mold and mildew also reduce the house’s value, especially when they eat away the shingles, causing them to rot and breaking apart.


Another effect of an ice dam is that it encourages condensation on the roof. Vapor rising from the evaporated water in the house rises to the roof and, on meeting a cold surface, condenses into water droplets. Condensation is associated with unusually high humidity in the living spaces. The water that forms on the roof falls and sips into the ceilings or other attic material, causing them to rot and get damaged. These materials need to be repaired or replaced, which increases the cost of maintenance of the home.

What To Do If Your Roof Has An Ice Dam


ways to do with ice dams

Once you realize that you have an ice dam on the roof, it’s best to seek a licensed contractor’s services to get rid of it. The contractor comes and clears out the ice on the gutters, eaves, roofs, and overhangs.


Removing the ice dams by yourself can be very difficult and dangerous. Still, some people insist on doing the jobs themselves as a fun DIY (Do It Yourself) project. If you take this route, there are a few mistakes you must avoid so that you don’t damage your property or run into accidents.


Do not attempt to knock the icicles off the roof from the ground. 


Their sharp edges could hit and cause injury to you. You would not also be resolving the problem because icicles are only a byproduct, while the ice dam is the problem.


Avoid walking on an ice-covered roof. 


You could suffer a serious fall or be caught up in the electrical wires, which would result in serious injuries.


Avoid hacking the ice with a chisel or hammer. 


By exerting too much force, you are likely to damage the shingles


Do not use some of the elements popularly used to cause the snow to melt. 


Some people use salt, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. But these ice melters are highly corrosive to the roofs, gutter, flashing, and downspouts.


Getting Rid of Ice Dams


ice dam prevention and ice dam dangers

The safest way to take out the ice dams is to use a roof rake with a long handle to bring down all the excess snow and ice from the roof. As you do this, you relieve the pressure the ice and snow exert on the film of water underneath the ice, allowing it to flow. The flow of the water causes heat loss and decreases the melting of snow.


Do not attempt to use a sharp tool or a shovel, which may increase your risk of injury and damage your roof. Also, be sure to stay at a safe distance so that the snow does not fall on you removing it. 


Once the excess snow is out of the way, create a trail that the melting snow waters can flow through once the temperatures rise again. Use a heat cable to melt the ice and create a path that leads down to the gutters. However, please ensure that the gutters themselves are clear and can drain the water properly.


If there are any leaking points on your roof, stop the leakage by lowering the temperature at these points. Aim a fan at the area to bring down the temperature on the roof. As the temperatures go down, the leaking portion of the roof freezes again, reducing the leakage into your house. The fix temporarily stops the leak giving you a chance to fix the leak.


Alternatively, you could evade all this stress and contact a professional to drain the ice dam properly. Professionals have experience fixing ice dams and leaking roofs and can resolve the problem quickly. Professionals also understand the safety measures to take, preventing injury and further damage to the property.


If you are a tenant, take pictures of the wet areas in your home or of the damage that the water has caused. Send the pictures to the landlord, asking for a solution. Homeowners can send the pictures to their insurers to have the costs of fixing the issue.

Contact HotEdge to Prevent Ice Dams


hotedge ice dam prevention


The best way to prevent ice dams and the dangers ice dams can cause is to prevent them in the first place. Don’t settle for quick hacks or solutions that are complicated, expensive, and less efficient. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn about our array of roof ice melt systems that successfully prevent ice dams from forming.

Our roof heating systems warm up the roof to prevent ice and snow from settling on the roof of the house, permanently. HotEdge heating systems work well with different types of roofing material, including metal and shingles roofing.

Our team of certified, licensed contractors assess your ice dam problem and determine the ice melt solution that is best suited for your roofing. Contact us today to learn more about our ice melt systems and see the kind that would work well for you. Give us a call a +1(303) 578-4987 to request an appointment with us.


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