Protect your home from water intrusion Even if you take all of the above measures, ice dams are often inevitable. In addition to increasing insulation and ventilation, another key component to protecting your home is making sure that, when they occur, there is no water intrusion. Prolonged sub-zero temperatures (especially several weeks of temperatures below 20 degrees), combined with frequent snowfall, often lead to “ice prey”. This is because the snow continuously melts from the roof and freezes again on the eaves.
These temperature and snow conditions are inevitable, since we have no control over the climate. However, there are other conditions associated with the building that contribute to the formation of ice dams over which we have some control. The first and most important approach to controlling ice dams is to reduce the amount of heat loss in the attic, as this will help keep the lower part of the roof cool. The person who breaks the ice dam must do so from a viewpoint on the ceiling, not from the ground, where heavy ice sheets can fall.
Even before a dam of ice or icicles forms, you notice that your roof is too hot if you see holes in which snow melts quickly after a heavy snow, rather than a solid layer of snow on the roof. The most common ways to get rid of ice prey include treating ice with a chemical substance that causes it to melt or using ice retention tools to break the ice into small pieces and remove them. Rooftop ice dams are a recurring winter problem in the northernmost parts of the United States, and yet they can often be prevented (or at least minimized) by some relatively inexpensive home improvements. Breaking an ice dam can be dangerous and, if you don't feel very comfortable on a roof covered with snow and ice, it's best to leave it to professionals.
Whether or not you have identified an ice build-up problem, this indicates that you have a thermal bridge problem. The quickest way is to treat the ice prey with a chemical that melts the ice and, when it starts to melt, use a mallet to carefully separate the pieces from the edges of the melted channels. If you look up and see a large chunk of ice on the lower edge of your roof, your forensic work is done; you have an ice dam. Removing ice dams with steam is an exclusive task for professionals because it requires commercial steam equipment that heats the water and dispenses it under pressure.
Taking the following steps will reduce the likelihood of ice dams forming, or at least reduce its severity. Adding gutters to a house shouldn't cause ice buildup, ice dams occur when snow melts and freezes again. The second fundamental step in reducing ice dams is to improve the ventilation of the attic space and the subroof. The rupture of an ice dam is usually done in conjunction with the melting of the ice in some way, such as wearing calcium chloride socks as described above or with steam on the roof (see below).