Tips for protecting your home or business against ice dams

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CEDARBURG (WITI) -- After the roof of a Franklin apartment complex partially collapsed on Friday, December 27th, homeowners are being reminded to take certain precautions.

The recent warm up in temperatures along with the piles of snow on rooftops can cause damage to homes.

"It freezes at night, it thaws during the day and goes down, and it freezes down at the end of the gutter and backs up underneath the shingles," said homeowner Robert Zancig.

After encountering leaks in his home years ago, Zancig says he makes a conscious effort for prevention. Experts say cautious roof raking can help combat ice dams.

"Typically you want to just keep the gutter area itself clean but the problem is the farther you go up with the roof raking -- a note with that some manufacturers, if you roof rake your roof, or shoveling your roof off, they can null and void your warranty on the shingle. If you do it I would recommend you basically leave some of that snow up there let the natural melting occur," said Paul Clemins, owner of Grafton Roofing and Home Improvement.

Ice dams form when there is improper pitching, clogged gutters or improper ventilation combined with fluctuating temperatures.

"As the snow builds up, the water or snow underneath tends to melt. Water drips down or drains down to the gutter line so you have heat loss and heat down in the mid part of the roof area when it gets down to the gutter line, it's what we call outside air temperature, so it begins to freeze," Clemins explained.

One more tip Clemins offers is to keep an eye on icicles in places that can be detrimental.

"You can have water leak out into your soffit vents. You can form the icicles underneath there to the water backing up inside your attic area leading to drywall damage. The extreme would be water pooling up inside there, creating a big enough puddle of water and ceilings collapsing," said Clemins.

Homeowners can purchase preventative products such as ice and water shields to help eliminate the water from getting inside. Cleaning gutter lines and using sodium chloride instead of salts are also simple ways to protect your home.


  • Brian Casey

    Salt (correct, Mr. Roofly: sodium chloride) can negatively affect roofing materials and rust metal flashings. It also kills vegetation below the roof. Unless you completely rake the roof, ice dams rebuild where you stop raking the snow. The video at 1:29 demonstrates this. To permanently stop ice dams, an effective method to consider might be our Radiant Edge HotSlot. It prevents eave ice formations and, when combined with a heated gutter, will safely transport meltwater away from your home. More info is at Thank you. Brian Casey/Summit Ice Melt Systems, Inc.

  • DLM

    This is yet another reason why homeowners should make the effort to hire roofers. Professionals can really be reliable in helping keep your roof in excellent working condition.

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