What are Ice Dams and what should I do?

Lets face it, when you live in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin or Montana and deal with big snow storms, most homes will experience ice dams. Savvy homeowners realize this issue and take the necessary steps to remove ice dams.

Regardless if a roof is 30 years old or if it’s brand new: Ice Dams are simply a result of normal heat loss from your home that is melting snow on the upper sections of your roof. As the water is shedding down the roof, it meets the eaves (lowest section of the roof that is outside the building envelope) and freezes. The eaves are not typically insulated, so the water re-freezes with the snow at this point and builds up ice dams. These “dams” trap a reservoir of water behind them that will back up and find its way into any shingle system and into a home.

How do I prevent Ice Dams?

Ice dams are ultimately an issue of preventative maintenance. While a roof is designed to hold snow, unless the roof is perfectly insulated and actively designed to prevent ice dams, they can and will form.

The easiest way to avoid and remove ice dams, is to keep the eave area of your roof (typically the first 4-6′ up the roof) free of snow buildup, so any melted water continues off the roof.

Special “snow rakes” are made so a person can safely pull down any snow accumulation while on the ground. Click here for an example.


If there are any ice dams that have built up, you can use salt to assist in melting an area for the water to runoff (See video link at the top of this post for more details). WARNING: Do not chip at an ice dam with a hammer or try to pry it off the roof, as this will damage the shingles and possibly the structure.

Who can help me?

In the craziness of life’s schedule, or perhaps with a physical limitation, this sounds like a daunting task to most people. The bottom line is it needs to happen sooner than later. Rji offers the following services for maintaining your roof.

Snow removal: We can do the raking for you and shovel it away from the entry. This process takes an hour or more depending on size.

Ice Dam Removal: We offer a steam removal process to safely remove larger ice dams that are creating damage to the structure.


Please call us today for current pricing in your area.