Protecting homes from ice dams

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 12:31 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - You may be seeing rows of icicles coming from homes and business. Repair crews are doing damage control with ice dams that can wreak havoc on our homes and wallets.

Construction and restoration crews say ice dams can still form this spring if we keep up with the freeze-thaw cycle. The icicles may look pretty at first, but can turn into thick banks of ice build up that can tear off gutters, damage shingles, and cause leaks into your home.

“When the snow melts, it melts from the bottom, and it gets down to your cold overhang. When it gets down to your cold overhang and it freezes. It then builds up and builds up and builds up and makes a lake behind the dam which works its way up behind the shingles and figures a way into your house,” explains Brandon Dorholt with Kiser Construction.

From inside the house, you may notice wet spots on the ceiling or new stains on the carpet. The first thing is to get rid of the ice dam to mitigate any further damage.

“It’s basically a low pressure, pressure-washer with a boiler on it. We’re hitting it with steam, which essentially just cuts it right off, doesn’t damage the shingles,” Dorholt said.

You will also want the crew to check for moisture behind the wall to catch any mold as soon as possible.

If you want to try and remove the ice dams yourself, it is recommended to rake snow off the roof first. You can melt the ice with calcium chloride, which is the same chemical used for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks, or install de-icing cables. Hardware or home improvement stores may sell de-icing cables, which can be placed on your shingles or eaves.