How to protect your home from ice dams

By Kelley Kosuda - Producer, Hank Winchester - Reporter

Michigan weather is unpredictable, but something we know always happens in the winter…temperatures go up and down constantly! 

Because of this, it’s important that you’re protecting your home from ice dams.
Ice dams can create hazards on the outside of your house and major damage on the inside. 

Our Help Me Hank braved the cold and snow to meet up with Adam Helfman from 
Here’s what you need to know…

What is an ice dam?

After snow falls and builds up on your roof, ice dams form when the snow starts melting. 
The water runs down to the gutter and refreezes at the edges of the roof. 
The ice accumulates and prevents the rest of the melting snow from flowing off your roof. 
Instead, it flows back up and gets underneath your roof’s shingles. 

What causes ice damming?

Ice dams can form when warm attic air escapes and causes the roof to warm and then the snow melts. 

Why are ice dams a problem?

On the outside of your house, ice dams cause a lot of ice to then build up on your sidewalk and driveway. When the water gets underneath the shingles, they can dislodge and break. 
Unfortunately, that means you’ll need a new roof. 

Inside of your home, damage forms as well. The water backs up underneath the shingles and it drips onto the insulation in your attic. The water will be absorbed like a sponge but a few days later…you’ll start seeing water dripping through light fixtures, sky lights, dry wall, etc. 
Then you have lots of damage and potentially mold. 

Ways to prevent ice dams

The real key to preventing ice dams is to keep your attic and roof cold. The temperature inside should be that of the temperature outside. 
Before the winter hits, make sure your gutters are cleaned out. After a snowfall, look for bald spots on your roof. That means heat is escaping through your roof and ice dams could form. 

There are three main components to preventing ice damming:
1.    Insulate – Make sure your attic is insulated well 
2.    Ventilate – Add roof and soffit vents for proper ventilation 
3.    Seal – Close up air leaks 

What to do if you already have ice dams

Get the snow off your roof right away. You can do this by using a long-handle snow shovel.
Or using a ladder and regular shovel. Next, it’s a simple DIY…Take pantyhose and fill it with calcium chloride (a salt compound). *Safety Tip: Make sure to use gloves!

Then lay the pantyhose in your gutter/on top of the ice dams. The ice and snow will then melt away. It’s important to lay salt down on the sidewalk to make sure that water then doesn’t freeze and create an icy pathway. Never use a hammer to break the ice apart. You’ll likely break your gutters or the shingles on your roof. 

The shoveling and the calcium chloride…

If you’re not comfortable doing this all on your own, you can always contact a professional roofing company. has crews out right now, getting rid of ice dams on homes in Metro-Detroit. You can contact the company here. 

As we always say, it’s important to do your research on companies. You don’t want them to take your money and run. 

Here’s a list of roofing companies that are accredited businesses with the Better Business Bureau. You can contact any of them to request a quote for getting rid of ice dams. 

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