There are several ways to prevent and eliminate ice damming that can be easily completed by a homeowner or a professional contractor. Many of these quick and easy ways can temporarily remove an ice dam; however, they are not necessarily the best prevention method. In this section, we will address common practices that are used to remove ice dams and breakdown the effectiveness of the practice. The best method to prevent ice dams is to ensure proper ventilation and ample insulation of your home.
Practice #1: Pass the salt, please.
Sodium and calcium compounds may melt ice but they can also create larger issues, such as rust and corrosion of metal flashing and gutters. In addition to damage of the home, landscape vegetation can also be significantly affected by the harsh sodium compounds.
Practice #2: Hammer, chisel, shovel – they are all bad choices.
Often times, people will attempt to remove ice dams with hammers, chisels, or even shovels. It is best to avoid all of these tools because they may not only cause bodily harm to you, but also cause damage to your home. It is best to use safer alternatives that are specifically designed for removing unwanted snow and ice. An alternative would be to use a roof rake on the snow before the ice has formed
Practice #3: Warning about warming cables.
These de-icing cables seem to be an attractive option for many homeowners with ice dam issues, but these cables can also wind up creating more havoc than the ice dam would. Many times, heat cables can cause leaks in gutters because there is not a route for the water to escape through. Therefore, they can create a pool of water; this will then cause a leak directly inside the metal flashing or gutter from excess water.
In addition to creating leaks, warming cables can also create roof shingles to become brittle, and potentially cause shingles to crack from overheating. Generally, these cables have a short life span of approximately two years and will stop creating heat shortly after. Once cables stop producing heat, ice dams will begin to form.
Again, roof de-icing cables, also known as heat cables or heat tape, should be a last resort when it comes to preventing water leakage resulting from ice dams. De-icing cables are relatively costly and it is recommended to have them professionally installed. These cables will not prevent ice dams, but they can keep enough ice melted to create drainage channels for water, if installed properly.
Practice #4: Put a fan on it.
By simply inserting a box fan in an attic and placing it underneath the area where the roof is leaking, the water will then re-freeze, thus solving the original leakage problem.
Practice #5: Ice and Water Shields.
Ice and water shields are self-adhering membranes that are utilized on roofs to help prevent leaks from inclement weather. Ice and water shields are great protectants that homeowners can invest in during home construction or when re-roofing.