Blog – Expert Roofing Advice & Tips

3 Ways to Battle Ice Dams on Your Roof

Ice dams on your roof | Chouinard Bros

With the amount of snow we’ve suffered through so far this year in Toronto and the GTA, it’s setting up to be a really good winter for ice dams. Unfortunately, that makes it a potentially bad winter for your roof and eavestroughs.

What are Ice Dams?

Ice dams often form around the outside edge of your roof, over the soffit, after snow accumulates on the roof. They are formed when warm air from inside the house melts all the snow or at least the layer of snow closest to the roof. The water rolls down the roof until, after it gets over the soffit, where there is no more heat rising from inside the house, it refreezes before draining away.
The double-digit-below-freezing temperatures we’ve had so far this winter have created ideal conditions for ice dams. If you spot any icicles coming forming along your eavestroughs or soffit, you probably have an ice dam; ice dams and icicles form in the same way.

Will Ice Dams Damage Your Roof?

Ice dams can damage your roof by lifting the shingles as the water under them freezes, which can also let water get into your attic. From there, it can cause water damage almost anywhere in your home. Ice dams can also damage your eavestroughs.

What Can You Do to Get Rid of Ice Dams?

While improving the insulation and ventilation in your attic, and/or installing an electric snow melting system along your roof’s edge and eavestroughs will help can help prevent ice dams, you’re not likely to take on those projects in the middle of winter.

Once they have formed, there’s not much you can do to get rid of an ice dam, but you can take steps in the winter to prevent them from forming.

1. Clear Snow from the Roof

Using a roof rake, try to clear as much snow from your roof, up to four feet from the edge of your roof, after a snowfall.

2. Use an Ice Melter

But not salt! Salt can damage your eavestroughs, roofing shingles and, if your downspouts drain into your yard, as they should in Toronto, the salt may damage your lawn or garden plants. So use an eco-friendly de-icer to help reduce and/or break up ice dams.

If you end up with a particularly nasty ice dam this winter, give us a call here at Chouinard Bros. We can help.

Please note: Chouinard Bros. does not recommend any homeowner complete repairs to their roof of their own. Our technicians are skilled at performing this work and have received years of training to understand how to complete repairs safely.

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