How to Identify and Remove an Ice Dam

Sometimes, even your best efforts to prevent an ice dam may not be enough.  Knowing what an ice dam is, how to identify one and how to help remove it is important to protecting your roof and home from potential damage during the snowy, winter months.

What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams may form when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofline.  Without proper roof snow removal, the ice that develops may grow large enough to prevent water from melting snow from properly draining off the roof.  When the water is unable to drain from the roof, it may then back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home.

Do You Have an Ice Dam?

Most ice dams develop on the edge of your roof, but they may also form in other locations, depending on the slope, orientation and style of your roof.  Be sure to monitor the weather and your roof for signs of ice dam formations.

  • Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house.  If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, then an ice dam has likely not formed.  Nonetheless, icicles can be a precursor to ice dams.  Depending on their location and size, icicles may also pose a danger if they fall off.  Whenever possible, and if safe to do so, remove icicles from the exterior of your home, making sure not to stand directly beneath them.  If you cannot safely reach the icicles from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
  • Check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your house.  Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.

How to Remove an Ice Dam

Removing an ice dam from your roof immediately after spotting the signs can be critical to helping prevent damage to your home.  One way to remove an ice dam is to melt it using calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 1. Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.

Step 2. Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store.  Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.

Step 3. Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 4. Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.

Step 5. Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants with lightweight tarps near the gutters or downspouts for the duration that the calcium chloride stockings remain in place. This is important because the calcium chloride-saturated water dripping from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants.

REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions may be dangerous. If you cannot safely reach the roof, consider hiring a contractor.

Snowmobiling Safety

Tips to stay safe during snowmobile season

As the snow continues falling, many people are getting excited, because it’s time to break out the snowmobiles and head to the nearest winter recreation spot.  It’s a popular activity, and for good reason: Snowmobiling allows you to explore natural areas that may be hard to access by foot (or snowshoe), and provides a different kind of excitement than skiing or hiking.

Of course, snowmobiling presents some dangers as well.  Here at Shults Insurance Agency, we want you to make it home safely after your day in the snow.  Read on for safety tips from the American Council of Snowmobile Associations — and keep in mind that following these will not only help you stay safe, but also influence equitable treatment of snowmobile access by government, agencies, and landowners.

SPEED: Speed is a major factor in many snowmobile crashes. Always keep your speed slow enough to ensure that you’re in control.

ALCOHOL: Use of alcohol or any other drug that causes impairment is a leading cause of snowmobile-related fatalities.  It’s best to refrain from any use at all before and during outings because of potential effects on vision, reaction time, balance and coordination.  When combined with excess speed in particular, the results can be deadly.

RIDING AT NIGHT: Nighttime snowmobiling is fun, but extra caution should be used. Ride at slower speeds so as not to override your headlights (which generally illuminate your path for about 200 feet).  Faster speeds could mean that you have little or no time to react to an obstacle in your path.

ROADWAYS: Always keep an eye out for vehicles, as many trails are located alongside roadways and can cross over them.  Be sure to stop fully at all stop signs and unmarked road crossings.

CLOSED AREAS: Areas may be closed to snowmobiles due to hazardous conditions, wintering wildlife, non-motorized recreation or by landowner request.  It’s important to honor these closures for safety purposes and to help protect access to other riding areas.

While it’s extremely important to follow these tips for your personal safety, it’s also vital to encourage others to snowmobile safely as well. Helping to educate others will not only promote safety for all snowmobilers, but also protect the sport’s image as well.

Whether you’re a new rider or have been on the trails for years, ask yourself if you could be riding more safely. There are many more winters to come, and we want you to be able to enjoy as many of them as possible!