In most parts of Canada, snow is expected to come and go. Calgary AB isn’t an exemption to this as it also experiences a significant amount of snowfall during winter. In places where snowing is a normal occurrence, ice dams are a common issue. If you’re one of the Calgary AB residents who want to find the best ice dam solutions, we’ve got the answers for you…

Before we proceed to the actual steps on how to solve your ice dam dilemmas, let’s first discuss the basics. Learn about what ice dams are all about to give you a clearer understanding of what happens to your roof. The No Payne Roofing team has summarized all the most important ice dam information that you need to know.

What are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are relatively easy to spot. After a snowstorm has passed or during the latter parts of winter, you’ll notice solid ice formations on the roof. These icicles normally settle at the edges of your roof and also at the gutter areas. You may feel like they’re totally harmless. However, ice dams can lead to potential issues that can damage your property. These ice formations can block the drainage system causing different kinds of water damages such as leaks, moisture retention, mold growth, stains, and foul smell. They can also create direct damage to the roofing surface and shingles that will result in serious structural problems.

What Causes Ice Dam Formations?

Icicles hanging on gutter eaves

Ice dam formations can be found mostly on the gutters and the edges of the roof.

Getting down to the bottom of the problem is one of the most effective ice dam solutions. Furthermore, knowing what causes the ice build-up will help you come up with more informed actions as a Calgary AB homeowner.

Here are the top causes of ice dam formations that you should watch out for:

Improper Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation is instrumental in releasing any trapped heat beneath the roof. However, improper roof ventilation causes the heat to linger on as it prevents the air from escaping through the right channels.

How is this connected to the ice dam build-ups? The unwanted heat trapped in the roof will melt the snow. Once melted, the snow will run down the gutters. Since the temperature is still low, there’s a tendency to refreeze. When it does, it will block the drainage system. Because ice dams are solid and hard, it becomes clings on to the surface causing further damages.

Poor Attic Insulation

Similar to how the ventilation releases heat, the attic insulation does the same. However, poor attic insulation traps the heat which will then melt the snow on your roof. While it’s normal for snow to land on the surface of the roof, it could form into ice dams when melted. As expected, the melted snow will exit through the drainage system and then refreeze later on. On the flipside, when there’s not enough heat, water can also refreeze to form more layers of ice dams. These ice dams, as we have mentioned above, are solid. When they sit on the roof for a long period of time, it can add to the roof’s weight load compromising the integrity of the structure.

Simple Roof Ice Dam Solutions

There are ways to prevent ice dam formation if you will prepare ahead of time. Before the winter comes, there are measures that will help the roof cope up with ice dams more efficiently. Here are the steps for easy ice dam roof solutions:

Clear the Gutters

Keep an eye on your gutters right before the winter arrives. Scoop off any debris like twigs, dirt, or leaves, and clear the area to make sure that there’s nothing to block the drainage system. When melted snow passes through the gutter, it can flow down faster if the gutters are clear. Otherwise, blocked gutters will enable the snow to stay a bit longer to refreeze and form more ice dams.

Safety reminder: Do not immediately climb up the roof to clean your gutters and downspouts. Stay at ground level as much as possible. You may clean the areas that are within reach. However, to perform a thorough gutter cleaning, ask for help from the experts. This will also help prioritize your own safety.

Inspect the Attic Area

In preparation for the winter, make sure that there is ample attic insulation. As we have explained above, poor attic ventilation can worsen the situation. While there’s time, check if there are holes which could affect the overall insulation. Seal all possible air leak exit points. Admittedly. these tasks are on the technical side, so make sure to seek professional assistance.

More Ice Dam on Roof Solutions

Aside from the preparatory measures, there are ice dam solutions that you can implement after the winter storm or towards the end of the winter season. When ice dams prevention couldn’t solve the problems, you can turn to these…

Use a Snow Rake

Workers removing ice dam on top of the roof

This is an example of how professional roofers clear and remove ice dams using roof rakes.

In some minor cases, it’s possible to get rid of ice dams using a snow rake. Scrape-off the first layer of ice formations to remove the extra weight and prevent it from lingering on longer. While this may seem like a doable job, it’s risky as well. Wet season can make the sturdy surfaces slippery, thus, increasing the chances of falling. Lack of proper roofing experience can also damage the roofing itself. For your overall safety, leave this task to the experts.

Use an Ice Pick

Ice dams are thick and hard. You need a sharp object like an ice pick to penetrate the inner parts of the ice to tear it apart. With the ice pick’s shape, it can also get into the hard to reach areas like gutters and downspouts.

We all know that ice picks are extremely sharp. Hence, only professionals are advised to handle these kinds of objects. Besides, if you don’t have the right skills, you may damage the property as well.

Ice-Melting Chemicals

There are widely-used chemicals that can aid in melting solid ice formations. One example is calcium chloride which you can easily find in local stores. Apply these ice-melting products on to the areas where you need to remove ice dams.

Another important reminder: These chemicals are not safe to use if can’t handle them correctly. It’s better to contact your trusted roofing partner for help than to risk your own health.

Use a Fan

Locate where the ice dams are concentrated. Then, fan these areas from the inside — in the attic to be exact. The air will help melt the ice and enable the water to exit directly through the gutters. To avoid leaks, make sure you are fanning the correct parts of the roof.

Spray Warm Water

Warm water can naturally melt an ice. This is the same principle that applies when you spray hot or warm water on to the ice formations. However, this is one of the ice dam solutions that are more on the temporary side. It can help break down the ice but it cannot solve the problems completely.

If you are looking for long-term ice dam solutions, you have to talk to roofing specialists. Every roofing is unique. Hence, there should be a more personalized approach to solving ice dam problems.

Final Thoughts

Ice dams are nice to look at. It reminds us of a winter wonderland scenario that we normally see in movies. However, ice dams are destructive if left untreated. The good thing is that there are ways to solve them. There are temporary ice dam solutions that you can perform but you should always take into consideration your own safety.

Effective ice dam solutions are customized based on what your roofing requires. To know what exact measures are needed, make sure to call a trusted local roofer. Schedule an inspection and don’t delay the necessary roofing services needed.

You’ll definitely want the best Calgary AB roofers to address your snow removal needs. If so, get in touch with No Payne Roofing team. Call us at 587 227 0517 and receive a free consultation.