Ice dams are those thick ridges of ice that build up along your eaves over the winter. When your roof heats up, either through warm temperatures or heat from the attic, and the snow slowly melts it refreezes when it hits your eaves. This freezing can rip off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to build up and pour into your home. This can cause major interior damages like peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings, and moldy insulation. With a little prevention now, you can combat ice dams in your home and keep from making a claim and paying more for your home insurance.
The simplest routine to get into is raking the snow off the roof. You can buy specialized roof shovels with extended handles that will allow you to quickly and easily pull the built up snow off your roof. This is especially important in areas of your roof that form a valley.
If you are able to safely reach up to your roof where the ice dam occurs, DO NOT use an axe or ice pick as it will cause damage to your shingles and roof. Using a blunt mallet, gently tapping the ice chunks will slowly free them up. Be warned this still may cause damage to your shingles. You can also melt troughs through the dams using calcium chloride ice melter, but DO NOT use rock salt as it will damage paint, metal and plants.
If you are experiencing heavy leakage in your home quickly set up large fans in your attic to help ventilate hot air out of the attic to stop the melting and allow the water to freeze again while you contact roofing specialists to come remove the ice dam.
If your home is prone to ice damming, consider taking steps to keep warm air out of your attic. Proper attic ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing areas that may leak heat into the attic (like an attic hatch) will keep your roof the same temperature as your eaves and prevent unnecessary damage to your home during winter and spring months.