Ice, Icicles, and Ice Dams – Oh My!

Ice Dam on Roof

Since our last post, it’s been just a bit chillier across all parts of Wisconsin, and we have gotten a lot of snow over the past few days. While temperatures dip down below freezing, some of the snow still melts on your roof. The result may be the formation of icicles. While they look beautiful hanging from the sides of our homes, too many icicles may be a sign that your roof is in trouble.


The Formation Icicles

Icicles typically form when there is heat escaping from your home through your roof. The melted snow, which is now water, now flows down your roof until it reaches its final destination: the gutter. It makes contact with the sub-zero temps just as it is about to fall. As this process is repeated, the water droplets freeze and create these icicles that grow in size.

When there is enough insulation and ventilation in your attic, your roof should stay cold during the winter, minimizing the amount of heat lost from your home and the amount of snow that begins to melt on your roof before warmer temperatures arrive. If the insulation in your attic has flaws, this is when snow begins to melt and icicles take form. Once the melted snow reaches your gutters, there is no heat to prevent the melted snow from freezing, causing icicles.


Removing Icicles

Icicles on Wisconsin Roof - American Roofing

Most icicles are harmless because as our temperatures rise and fall below freezing, snow may begin melting even during the winter months creating icicles. It’s important to keep an eye on these icicles during the colder temperatures to make sure there aren’t other factors leading to their creation. Proper insulation and ventilation in your attic and removing excess snow off of your roof can help prevent damage from ice, icicles, or ice dams. If you would like to remove icicles, ensure you will not be causing any damage to your roof or gutters while removing them. Always take caution and do not go up on your roof during the winter months and make sure nobody is standing below when icicles are being removed. If you notice a large buildup of ice from the origination of the icicles, this is called an ice dam, and you have a larger problem on your hands.


The Dangers of Ice Dams


Icicles may be an indication that you have an ice dam present on your roof. Ice dams occur when the melted snow turns into a ridge of ice the prevents the melting snow from draining off the roof, or even to cause an icicle. The melted snow can get trapped behind the dam causing it to leak through the shingles of your roof causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, etc. The formation of ice dams is more likely to occur on roofs with a flatter pitch. However, a simple buildup of snow within your gutters can also provide the perfect environment for an ice dam to form. If an ice dam breaks loose, it may bring shingles and/or your gutter down with it and can cause extreme damage to whatever lies below. Your now exposed roof without shingles remains wet as snow melts and can cause further damage or rot to your roof.


Ice Dam Removal

While icicles may not necessarily cause extreme harm to your home or roof, ice dams are something that you should consult the professionals for. If you notice icicles against the siding of your home, this is also a good time to call in the professionals; this may be a sign that water has leaked into your home. Ice can cause harm to your roof and make it necessary to take action fast to protect your home. Our team of skilled roofing contractors can assess the damage and create a customized roofing services plan for your repair needs.


Prevention of Ice Dams

It is best to always prevent problems before they happen. Always be monitoring any icicles that form on your gutters; these are the first indication that something may be going on with your roof in the wintertime. Carefully remove snow from the edges of your roof after a large snowfall. While these are all ways to prevent ice dams from occurring, these are not solutions to fixing the potential problem you are having with insulation and ventilation within your attic. Proper insulation is key to keeping your roof cool and you and your home warm during these chilly winter months!


If you are begin to notice ice dams forming on your roof and would like a professional to take a look, feel free to call us at (262) 662-5311 or message us for a free roofing inspection!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Holly M

    Of all the seasons, I hate winter. With all the snow, the ice, icicles and ice dams, everything is really “oh my!” Thanks for the info on how to remove and prevent them.

    1. American Roofing

      Thanks Holly! Glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

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