Friday, February 12th by Kristina McGovern
Icicles may look pretty, but they are dangerous to walk beneath, damage the gutters and roof, and cause water damage inside your home. Read this guide for ice dam removal options and prevention tips.
Heat loss and inconsistent temperatures on the roof’s surface lead to ice dams. Water backs up behind the dam and leaks into the home.
Ice dams are common in the northern United States and Canada. The icicles and ridges of ice on the roof can damage gutters, loosen roof shingles, and cause water to backup inside the home.
What causes ice dams?
When heat rises up through the home, it warms the underside of the roof, causing snow on the roof to melt. The melting snow flows down the roof and refreezes on the unheated overhang (or the edge of the roof where gutters are installed). When thick ice forms on the edge of the roof, this prevents melting snow and rainwater from running off the roof. Instead, the water often leaks under the roof shingles and causes water damage, including stained and sagging ceilings, peeling paint, warped floors, and wet insulation.
Ice dams form on the roof, so how do they affect the basement?
Melting snow and ice, combined with rainwater causes the soil around your home to become saturated. Water dripping off the roof adds to the problem and the water that has accumulated around the foundation can leak into the basement through leaky windows or cracks in the foundation. Check out these tips on how to deal with water in the basement.
If you're dealing with a leaky basement, installing a sump pump and interior drainage system in the basement can help prevent flooding. If you have an existing sump pump, make sure it's in good working condition. Consider installing a basement dehumidifier to prevent mold growth and musty odors caused by excess moisture.
One in every 50 insured homes has a claim related to water damage or freezing every year (Insurance Information Institute). Homeowner’s insurance may cover repairs for damage caused from an ice dam. However, damage to personal belongings or removal of the ice dam typically isn’t covered. Check your policy or contact your insurance agent if you’re unsure of your policy terms and limits.
If you have water leaking into your house from an ice dam, you're likely looking for a quick-fix to get rid of the ice and stop the leak. The problem with most ice dam removal methods is that not only is it dangerous to climb onto the roof, but they can also cause more damage.
If you're looking for ways to prevent an ice dam problem, skip ahead to read our tips for ice dam prevention.
Here are a few commonly-used ice dam removal methods and things to keep in mind:
The best way to avoid damage caused by an ice dam is to prevent it from forming in the first place. If ice damming is a concern where you live, proper precautions are necessary prevent damage to your home. Below are a key ways to protect your home against an ice dam problem; whether you've dealt with them before or you're installing a new roof and want to be proactive.
Clogged gutters prevent melting snow and ice from draining off the roof.
If there's water in your basement from melting snow and ice, schedule a free basement waterproofing estimate with your local Basement Systems contractor. Check out tips to winterize your basement here.
If you need help fixing the cause of your ice dam problem or with removing ice dams or repairing roof damage, get estimates from qualified contractors near you.
To ensure professional installation and superior service we carefully created an international network of over 350 trusted basement contractors.