Ice dams form when water from melting snow freezes at the edge of your roofline. Without adequate roof snow removal, the ice that develops may grow large enough to prevent water from properly draining off the roof. When water is unable to drain from a roof, it may back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home.
Heat coils are a popular tactic when it comes to battling ice dams. However, they require precise installation and can make matters worse if not professionally installed. So what else can you do to prevent ice dams from wrecking havoc on your home and on your wallet?
Step 1. Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.
Step 2. Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store. Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.
Step 3. Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.
Step 4. Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.
Step 5. Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants with lightweight tarps near the gutters or downspouts for the duration that the calcium chloride stockings remain in place. This is important because the calcium chloride-saturated water dripping from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants.
REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions may be dangerous. If you cannot safely reach the roof, consider hiring a professional.