Landmark Exteriors - Ridgefield Moms

What are Ice Dams and how do I prevent or treat them?

Typically, an ice dam will simply start as snow laying on a roof. Wind and frozen rain may allow the ice to slide down the pitch of the roof and rest in the gutter. If the gutter is not cleaned, then the water and ice mixture will have nowhere to drain off of the roof. This causes the water to remain in the gutter and freeze.

After time, more ice and water will accumulate and work its way up the roof. As the water and ice accumulates, the stress of the weight on the roof and gutter increases. When the weight becomes too heavy for the support structure of the gutter it can no longer be held in place and the gutter will come crashing down onto the ground or any structure below. The remaining weight that is on the roof from the backed up ice can also cause roof trusses to warp and splinter.

We want you to know that this can cost the homeowner many thousands of dollars in the initial repair of your roof and gutter system. If left unchecked, water can enter into the home and ruin drywall, paint, wood floors, and even concrete. Not only this, but when spring comes those areas will be at an added risk of mold which can cause respiratory problems.

The first line of defense that we recommend in preventing an ice dam is to make sure that your gutters are cleaned and that your downspouts are clear of obstruction. This will allow the water to flow off of the roof which will decrease the likelihood that it will build up and cause an ice dam. However, sometimes ice dams will still form in stubborn areas.

There are heated wires that can be placed in these areas to melt the ice dam by running electricity through the wires. This is an effective means to get to a specific trouble spot. Bear in mind that it is going to increase your electric bill since the system converts electricity into heat.

Calcium chloride, which comes in many sidewalk and driveway ice melting products, can be sprinkled on the area to melt the ice dam. It is important to prepare the area by removing a strip of snow parallel, but above, to the direction of the ice dam so that the product will not melt the snow which will dilute it and may cause it to run off the roof before working on the ice dam.

Contact Landmark Exteriors today if you have any concerns or need someone to inspect your gutters for possible ice dams or ice dam prevention. Visit or call (203) 838-3838.


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