Michigan winters can cause a lot of trouble for your roof, but perhaps the most common and most dangerous side effect of snow on your roof this winter is ice dams. Ice dams are tricky pests that form as a result of poor ventilation or insulation in your roof. If left to their own devices, they can cause major water damage to your home, can destroy gutter systems, and can be costly to repair once spring finally shows up. If your home is prone to ice dams, it’s in your best interest to get ahead of them now, before snowfall builds up and makes it impossible to counteract their negative effects. While the only long-term solution to ice dams is to have your roofer repair the ventilation or insulation issues within your roof, here are 5 ways to solve the problem for now, until you can get your roof fixed for good:

Solution #1: Heated Cables

Heated cables are a great fix for ice dams because they essentially stop them from forming in the first place. If you don’t have the money or time to get your roof fixed, heated cables are the next best solution. Place them in a zigzag pattern vertically on your roof before the snow falls, and watch as they melt snow before it has a chance to freeze and create ice dams. Heated cables are easily attached to the roof with clips, the only kicker is that you do have to get them on before snow falls.

Solution #2: Blow Cold Air Through Your Attic

What causes ice dams is the hot air in your home rising through the roof. That heat causes snow on the roof to melt and slide down until it reaches the cold, unheated eaves and edges of your roof, where it refreezes under shingles and around your gutter. One great, non-harmful way to combat ice dams is to point fans directly at your roof where the problem starts. By cooling down the underside of the roof, snow won’t melt in the first place and preventing ice dams from forming.

Solution #3: Rake It

Another preventative measure to take care of ice dams is to get rid of snow on your roof before it has a chance to melt. This does involve a bit of manual labor on your part, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping your roof in one piece. Raking snow from your roof will keep ice dams from forming, but you’ll need to be careful. Purchase a rake that’s specially made to take snow off of roofs, and take care not to damage shingles in the process. Most roof rakes are on wheels to protect shingles, and are long enough that you can pull the snow off from the safety of the ground. So long as you get out there after every snowfall, your roof will be safe from ice dams.

Solution #4: Calcium Chloride Deicer

A more drastic measure, deicing your roof is a very effective way to melt ice dams after they’ve already formed. It’s important to remember though, if you use calcium chloride to deice your roof, you’ll want to protect any plants below the gutters, as they’ll die from overexposure to the chemical. To effectively deice your roof, fill a nylon stocking (Weird? Sure, but still very effective.) with calcium chloride, and throw the stocking up on the roof so that it lays perpendicular to the edge of your roof. You may need to use a rake or long-handled broom to get the stocking into the right position, but once it’s up there you’ll start to see ice dams disappear.

Solution #5: Call a Professional

If you’re not sure you can deal with ice dams effectively on your own, know that you can always call a professional. Most methods to getting rid of ice dams are strenuous and require a bit of time in the frigid Michigan winter weather. If you’re just not up to that this winter, don’t hesitate to call your local roofing professional. They’ll be able to come out and get rid of any existing ice dams for you and set up a solution to keep them away until you have time to get the roof fixed permanently.



While these solutions are all fantastic temporary fixes, it’s important to remember that the only way to stop ice dams in their tracks is to get your roof fixed. Whether you’re lacking insulation or your roof isn’t properly ventilated, at some point you’ll need to call a professional to get your roof fixed permanently so that ice dams don’t form in the first place.


If you’ve got ice dams, but aren’t sure what the best method for removal is, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Werner Roofing. We’d be happy to help clear them off your roof, and if you’re interested in some longer-term methods of keeping them off, we can do that too! Just give us a call at 616-844-5382 or request a free initial estimate online today.

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How do you know when it’s time for a new roof? The only way to be sure of your residential roof’s current condition is to have a licensed professional personally inspect it. Werner Roofing is proud to offer free roof inspections for every client, so you can be sure of your roof’s condition. Every Werner Roofing inspection comes complete with our promise: “We won’t recommend or sell a roof replacement unless it’s necessary.” 

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