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Ice dams are problematic because they can cause leaks. The ice deposited at the edge of your roof prevents water from draining and causes it to back up onto the roof. How are they formed? If there isn’t enough insulation in your attic, the heat that escapes through gaps in the roof insulation will melt the snow on top of your roof. As the melted snow slides to the outer, colder edges of your roof, it freezes again and deposits ice at your roof’s edge.

Removing the ice dams before they thaw can help prevent roof leaks. However, you need to be careful when removing them. Otherwise, you may end up inadvertently damaging your roof.  Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of the different methods for removing ice dams:

Chip Away at Ice Dams to Allow Water to Drain 

You can use an ice pick or awl to remove just enough ice to create an opening for melted snow to drain into your gutters. However, most contractors wouldn’t recommend this method, as there’s a chance you may damage parts of your roof or gutter system. Not to mention there are safety risks.

Use Calcium Chloride to Deice Your Roof 

Fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride—a very effective deicer—seal off the ends and place it in a position that’s perpendicular to the edge of your roof using a rake. Make sure to cover shrubs underneath your roof to protect them from chemical runoff, which is toxic to plants.

Install a Heating Cable 

As the saying goes: prevention is better than cure. Heating cables increase the temperature of your gutter system to prevent ice dams from forming. One disadvantage is that your gutters might become hot to the touch. To prevent overheating gutters, it’s recommended that you install self-regulating heating cables, like Helmet Heat®. Self-regulating heating cables increase your gutters’ temperature to make sure icicles don’t form, but not too much that your gutters become hot to the touch. If you’re considering installing heating cables, it’s best to let a gutter protection service company handle the installation.

One more thing: don’t forget to clean your gutters before the start of winter. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams to form. Don’t have the time for gutter cleaning? You might want to install Gutter Helmet® gutter guards.

Gutter Helmet of Eastern Shore offers a wide range of gutter protection service options, including Gutter Helmet and Helmet Heat. To get a free quote, call us at (866) 333-8150 or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in Salisbury, Maryland, as well as the surrounding communities.

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