How to Remove Ice Dams from Your Roof


January 30, 2023

If you live in a snowy climate, you’ll be familiar with the problem of ice dams. Ice dams are caused when snow on the roof solidifies into a sheet of ice that simply won’t budge. The ice may melt a bit during the day only to refreeze at night, often at the edge of the roof. These dams can lead to internal home leaks, roof and gutter damage and even danger to occupants and visitors if they “let go” and slide when someone is standing beneath them.

The best way to prevent damage and danger is to prevent the ice dams from building up in the first place.  Here are some ways you can do this:

Remove the snow. If the snow is removed from the roof, you won’t need to worry about the buildup in the first place. In snowy climates, many people keep long-handled roof rakes for the snow to pull all or most of it off the roof before it can solidify into a mass. Some roofers recommend that you leave a thin layer of snow on the roof to protect it during the winter. It’s also critical to remove the snow in a way that doesn’t damage the roof. If you don’t have a roof rake or want to avoid damaging the roof, consider using a ladder and a garden hose to melt the remaining snow off the roof. If you have an excessive amount of snow on the roof, hire a professional roofer to remove it so you don’t risk damaging the roof or making the ice dam worse. Avoid any kind of chemical ice melt solutions on your roof: these chemicals are harsh and will damage the shingles.

Install a heat cable. If your problem is urgent, a local roofing company may recommend that you install heat cables that can melt the ice off. Your roofing company may recommend that you use them temporarily or install them permanently to solve your ice dam problems, particularly on roof planes that face north and get less sun, which is a common place for ice dams to build up.

Determine if the problem is structural. If you’re getting ice dams more often than your neighbors with similar homes, it may be worthwhile to determine why. You may have a heat leak from the roof, which is causing uneven snow melt and resulting in ice dams. A roofing consultant can help you determine if the problem is being exacerbated by the shape of the roof or escaping heat.

Consult a professional. If ice dams are a regular problem for your home, consult with a local professional roofer who can evaluate the problem and suggest improvements. Marquis Roofing is a professional, experienced and insured roofing contractor, with over 20 years of experience in New Hampshire roofing. Services include residential roofing, commercial roofing, asphalt shingles, metal roofing, and flat roofing. Our team of professionals provides roof replacements, roof cleaning, and roof repair throughout Southern New Hampshire, in the Nashua/Manchester/Concord region, up through Central NH and the Lakes Region, and we have now expanded into Massachusetts. For more information or an estimate, visit our website or call 603-463-0219.

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