Ice on your roof?! Now what?

When the temperature outside drops below freezing, this can cause precipitation to freeze pretty quickly. You’re probably used to slick roads, driveways, and sidewalks, but icy roofs are something to watch out for as well. You might not think that ice on a roof is dangerous, but it can actually lead to some pretty substantial damage to the roof if it’s left there for too long or there’s too much of it. Wondering what you should do to keep your roof clear and protected? Here are some of our professional de-icing tips that can help you melt the ice and remove an ice dam that has formed. (An ice dam is an ice build-up on eaves of roofs that results from melting snow reaching the eave and freezing there, creating a blockage.)

Ice dam, icicles, and snow on the roof of a green house

What Causes Ice on Your Roof?

Ice generally forms on a roof when there is snow that has built up on the roof. Over the course of the day, it may melt a bit if the temperatures have warmed up and the sun is out. However, temperatures dropping later in the evening and overnight hours can cause that moisture to re-freeze in the form of ice instead of snow. If you were to allow this cycle to go back and forth for a number of days, water and ice can actually work their way underneath your shingles. This leads to damage to the roof, your attic, ceilings in the home, etc.

There is also a risk associated with a rapid shift in temperature. It could be raining one minute, and that rain will turn to ice within an hour if the temperatures start to drop quickly.

Ice dam, icicles, and snow built up on the eaves of a tan house

Why Is Ice on Your Roof Bad?

Ice can be more damaging than people realize. When water freezes, it expands. That process of expansion can be dangerous for the structure of your roof. Water has a habit of being able to get into all the little cracks and crevices on your roof, underneath shingles and around flashing. It’s amazing how quickly ice can result in substantial damage that would warrant repairs from a professional. When you start to develop a thick layer of ice on your roof, water will start to flow under your shingles. You may then start to see leak spots on your ceiling or walls inside of your home.

A large amount of snow on the roof of a tan home during a snowstorm

Methods to De-Ice Your Roof

Finding a method for ice dam removal can provide you with an option for protecting your roof. It’s not safe to climb up on your roof and attempt to scrape away ice that way, but you can keep up with routine maintenance that will go a long way towards preventing the ice in the first place. Here are some helpful tools to have on hand in the event your roof does get covered in snow and ice.

-Snow Roof Rake

A snow rake allows you to remove some of the snow that’s accumulating on your roof. If you’ve been getting a lot of snow day after day, try to remove some of it using your rake. This long tool extends far up your roof without the need for climbing up a ladder. Just make sure that you stand out of the way of the snow coming down! With less snow up there, there is less of a chance of snow melting, seeping under your shingles and then re-freezing.

-Ice Melting Products

There are different ice melting products that you simply toss up onto your roof and it will melt the ice just like it would on your sidewalk or driveway. It’s usually made from calcium chloride and is safe for your roof.

-Warm Water

If weather permits and you have the means of doing so, applying warm water will quickly melt ice off of your roof or in your gutters. This will be plausible if you have a hot water hookup in your garage and can use a hose to reach the roof. There are also heat cables that can be installed on your roof to prevent ice buildup – but of course, that would need to be done before the snow and ice comes.

Red brick home in the winter with a buildup of snow and ice on the roof

Hiring a Professional

The one thing you don’t want to do regarding ice on your roof is ignore it. If you need help with ice removal on your roof, we recommend reaching out to us here at Hammersmith Roofing and Construction. We can safely address the issue that you’re having without you getting up on a ladder and putting yourself into a dangerous situation. We also recommend against using tools like hammers or shovels on your roof, as they can cause damage to the roof itself. Let us work our magic and give us a call today. We are an experienced roofing contractor capable of installing several types of roofs in the greater Richmond, VA area as well as providing routine maintenance and repairs. We’ve been working on roofs for residential and commercial customers for years. Our team of roofing contractors has the skills to install roofs for family homes, apartment buildings, restaurants, retail stores, and townhomes.