Avoid getting your back up.
What causes ice dams?
Ice dams form when the temperature fluctuates enough to cause frequent melting and freezing conditions. When ice builds up on the edge of the roof (often in your eavestroughs) and the snow above melts, the water can collect and flow back under the shingles into the house. Most insurers will pay for the interior damage but not to get rid of the cause.
How can I tell if I have ice dams forming?
Icicles are one indicator that you may have ice dams forming but it is possible to get ice dams without the presence of icicles. If you see a buildup of ice bulging out of your eavestroughs or signs of water/ice running down the exterior wall of the house back from the edge of the roof, you likely have an ice dam.
What shouldn’t I do to correct the problem?
You should never go up on your roof during the winter to clear the snow and ice. Nor should you hammer or chop at the ice as you may damage your roof or eavestroughs. Never apply salt to the ice on your roof. The salt can stain your siding and damage your shingles.
What should I do to correct the problem?
Prevention is the best solution. If you have a low enough roof, a roof rake which has a long handle can be used to clear the snow off of the bottom few feet above the edge of the roof which will prevent ice from forming. If the ice has already formed, apply a non-salt based ice melting compound to melt the ice dam. A more permanent solution involves the installation of heater cables on the edge of the roof and in the eavestroughs. The heater cables will keep a channel clear for the water to run through preventing a backup of water.