How to De-ice Your Roof

After a cold snap, you’ll likely have a variety of ice formations on your roof. This can happen when snow melts and then refreezes. Ice can also form as the result of poor attic insulation, unsealed window edges, and a home that’s not properly ventilated. No matter what its cause, leaving rooftop ice in place can result in considerable roof and building damage. However, taking it off the wrong way can be problematic as well. Whether you’ve got icicles hanging from your eaves, ice dams blocking runoff from entering your gutters, or ice that’s frozen in your downspouts, it’s important to know how to properly eliminate it. It’s also important to know how to prevent it.

Roof Repair

Ice dams are thick, solid layers of ice that collect along the gutters and eaves. They are usually the result of snow melting and refreezing. When these formations block rooftop drainage, they can lead to standing pools of water, heavy and difficult-to-reach snow loads, discolored siding, damaged shingles, and more. Having ice accumulate inside of your gutters and downspouts can cause existing cracks to worsen. Worse still, ice and snow accumulations together can overweight these structures and cause them to detach from your home. Thus, the sooner that you remove them; the better. 

Get Out Your Snow Rake

Never attempt to scrape ice or snow from your roof with a standard yard rake. Doing so could remove or damage shingles and cause harm to other roofing elements. Snow rakes are built specifically for this purpose. They’re great tools to use if you have a moderate amount of ice and a limited amount of snow on top of your home. You can use your snow rake to routinely clear the top of your roof by knocking or gently scraping off small piles of snow and thin sheaths of ice. If ice is thick, difficult to remove, or has sharp, pointed edges, consider calling in a professional instead. Ice removal isn’t always as simple as it initially appears to be. Moreover, if you’ve got problems with icing on your roof due to leaks, poorly sealed windows, or other structural issues, you’ll need to have the necessary repairs performed as well. Addressing both the ice and its underlying cause requires experience and special training. 

Before heading out to clear the roof with your snow rake, be sure to gear up with all the right safety essentials. These include:

  • Protective footwear with slip-proof treads
  • Safety goggles for eye protection
  • Heavy gloves to protect against the cold and possible cuts or lacerations

Clearing your roof is only something that you should do by yourself if you have a single-story home with a relatively low-hanging and fairly accessible roof. If you have to scale a tall ladder or actually stand on the roof to access its topmost points, this work is best outsourced.

Once they’ve already formed, many ice dams will need to be carefully chiseled away with an ice pick. A skilled professional can do this without undermining the integrity of the roof and without sustaining any physical injuries. Roofers use fall-arrest and fall prevention equipment that allows them to access all necessary areas without risk of serious harm. If you’ve had consistent problems with ice dams in the past, you might want to consider having heat cables installed. These products are not meant to eliminate ice dams, but they can prevent them. Once they’ve been placed in your gutters, they can help keep these channels open so that snowmelt can effectively pass through.

For heavy, thick layers of ice, you may be tempted to try de-icing agents. These chemicals can expedite the melting process if a thick enough layer is put down. The important thing to remember before using this method is that the most effective and often the cheapest de-icing agents are also the most corrosive. Although they’ll melt snow and ice coatings quickly, they can also cause severe roof damage. When shopping for these products, it’s vital to avoid all de-icing products that contain calcium chloride (CaC12) or sodium chloride (NaC1). 

It’s virtually impossible to visually determine when snow and ice are reaching or exceeding your roof’s load-bearing limits. Some layers of snow are light and fluffy, whereas others are dense, heavy, and filled with ice due to thawing and refreezing. Trying to keep your roof relatively snow-free throughout the winter is the best way to avoid ice problems. Using heat cables in your gutters can also prevent major ice blockages. If you need assistance in removing ice from your roof or want an effective plan for preventing these formations altogether, we can help. Call us today at 913-850-6556.