Ice dams are an unfortunate result of snow or ice on your roof melting, then re-freezing before it can get down the gutters and downspouts. This can be from many different causes, from your roof getting too hot due to poor circulation to the gutters being clogged and not allowing the melted ice to drip down and drain properly. If you have ice dams that have formed at the edge of your roof, these tips will help you to remove them.

Remove Snow and Ice With a Rake

Before removing the ice dam itself, you want to start by removing excess snow and ice from the roof's surface. This ensures you don't get more ice dams before you get a chance to remove them. You want to get a roof rake with a long handle, but made of materials that are safe to use on your roof. This will depend on the materials of your roof, whether you have asphalt shingles, clay tiles, or metal panels. Start raking the snow off the roof, pulling it toward the edge of the roof and letting it fall off the roof completely. You may need to remove snow and ice from the gutters as well. Also scrape ice from the roof surface with the rake. As you do this, you might dislodge some of the ice dams at the edge of the roof.

Melt the Ice Dams

When it comes to removing the ice dams themselves, you can start by attempting to melt them. This needs to be done after cleaning out the gutters, so do that first if it hasn't been done already. When they are melted, they might try to drain down the gutters and downspouts, so they must be cleared first. When attempting to melt the ice dams, don't try to use sodium chloride or anything with rock salt, since this can damage many different types of roof surfaces. Stick to calcium chloride, which is safe to use on most roofing materials. You can put the calcium chloride in a nylon stocking or mesh bag, then place it over the ice dam. It should eventually cause the ice to melt.

Carefully Chip Away the Ice Dams

Your last option is to chip away at the ice dams to remove them, but you need to do this slowly and carefully. You can work any tool that will break ice, such as a crow bar or ice pick. Make sure it is a tool that breaks ice and is comfortable for you to hold. You need to do this very slowly and make sure you have full control over the tool. Don't use something that is hard to hold due to its weight, such as a hatchet. It is okay to just make a channel in the ice dam to allow it to melt away on its own instead of removing all of the ice. Proper removal can prevent aroof repair.