Ice dams occur when warm air from the attic melts snow on the roof and that water freezes. Getting rid of them can be dangerous because it requires someone to go one-on-one with the ice. In 2013, nearly 176,000 people fell from ladders and ended up in the hospital.
Angie Hicks, Angie’s List Founder, “If you’re tackling removing an ice dam yourself, the number one concern you should have is for your safety. Be sure you have a buddy who’s going to help you with the ladder because remember, it’s snowy and icy out.”
You can try using de-icing pellets that look like white hockey pucks to clear ice and roof rakes to clear snow yourself. But Angie says it’s a good idea to do a self-evaluation as well as to think about your tool collection before you climb up to roof height.
Angie Hicks, “If you’re not in good shape or you’re afraid of heights like I am, this is probably not a do-it-yourself job for you. Hiring a handyman or even a roofer to come tackle this job … they’ll have the right equipment and the right safety gear.”
To prevent ice dams in the first place, make sure you don’t already have a problem in your attic. That means, two things have to be in place: enough insulation and proper ventilation, which includes exhaust through the roofline and intake vents in the soffit, or eave, area.
Rod Standifer, “Provided that your roof is installed properly, you should never have any problems.”
Adequate insulation is the best preventative. Two-thirds of American homes don’t have enough insulation in their attics.
Rod Standifer, “Your insulation should be almost up to depending on how tall you are up to your knee. But 13 and-a-half inches, 12 inches, I mean you’re going to be OK.”
Properly insulating your home and sealing drafts can save you 10 to 20 percent on yearly utility costs. An average insulation by a pro costs about 2-thousand dollars.
If you want to try D-I-Y, Angie says check out tips on AngiesList.com to determine what you’re up against and what you need before you start.