Your roof is one of the most important elements of your home. It’s what keeps the cold out, the heat in, and it’s what keeps you safe and dry.  When winter hits, there are a lot of potential threats to your roof, from winter storms to falling trees, and even more frequently from ice dams.  A seriously destructive issue, ice dams can ruin the integrity of your roof, and can cost you a lot of money in repairs if they’re allowed to continue.

Not only is ice dam removal a major hassle in the wintertime, it’s an issue that can be compounded by excessive snow accumulation. When you have a lot of snow on your roof, it can lead to bigger problems with ice dams, and it can challenge the structural integrity of your roof.  Since that’s not something you want to deal with in the middle of winter, give Werner Roofing a call! In addition to providing roofing services, we also specialize in ice dam and snow removal.  You don’t have to worry about getting on the roof in icy conditions when our talented experts will do it for you!  

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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.” 

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the edge of your roof.  The accumulation of ice blocks the melting snow farther up on your roof from sliding off, causing it to leak through your roof into the insulation.  This leakage often creates water damage to your roof, insulation, ceiling, and possibly other parts of your home, which is why it’s a good idea to get ice dams removed as soon as possible.    


How does an ice dam form?

If your roof or attic is poorly insulated, the heat from the inside of your home will rise and warm your roof.  When this happens, the snow that has accumulated on your roof will melt, and slide farther down the roof.  As the melted snow slides down the roof, it will eventually reach your eaves, which are much colder being farther from the heat of your home.  When it reaches the cooler overhang of the roof, the water will freeze, and continue to do so, until it’s created a ridge or ice dam.  This ice dam can be dangerous to the structural integrity of your home, and can also ruin your gutters, so it’s a good idea to try and prevent them, or at least get them removed as soon as you detect the problem.  


Tips for preventing an ice dam:


Proper Insulation

The number one way to prevent an ice dam is to make sure your attic and roof are well insulated.  The better insulated they are, the more your home will keep heat in and away from the roof, which is what initially creates the problem.


If you shovel off your roof after heavy snowfalls, you’re more likely to avoid ice dams.  When there’s no snow on your roof, there’s little chance that an ice dam can form.  It’s important to exercise caution with this method, however, because you don’t want to hurt yourself or your roof. Use a special roof shovel that won’t damage your roof, and don’t attempt to shovel your roof if conditions are very icy, or if your house is taller than one story.  

Heated Cables

If you’re proactive, heated cables are a great way to prevent ice dams, and save a little bit of money.  Instead of repairing or re-insulating your roof, you just clip heated cables to the edge of your roof in a zig-zag pattern.  The heat from the cables will melt any potential ice that could build up on the edges.  The only drawback with this one is that you have to do it before the cold weather starts.  Heated cables must be installed on a dry roof.

Ice Belt

Another prevention method that requires a bit of foresight, an ice belt is a band of metal roofing that you can have installed around the bottom of your roof, near the eaves.  Since the metal has less friction than a traditional asphalt roof, the melting water is more likely to slide off than stick and freeze.  


What happens when you get an ice dam?

Even if you have the best intentions, and think you’ve done as much as you can to prevent an ice dam, in some older homes they are still likely to occur.  So now that you know you’ve got one, how do you remove that ice dam, or at least keep it from getting worse?

  • Conversely, you can try to melt the ice dam.  A good way to do this is to fill a large sock, or pantyhose with ice melt, and throw it on the roof, perpendicular across the ice dam, hanging slightly over the edge of the gutter.  The ice melt will slowly warm the ice dam, providing a temporary fix.
  • The best and safest way to reduce an ice dam is to call a properly insured professional with equipment for ice dam removal.  They can melt the ice dam without damaging your gutters, shingles, or the integrity of your roof.  A professional will also be able to provide you with your best options to avoid ice dams in the future.  If you’re having trouble with ice dam removal, feel free to call the experts at Werner Roofing. We have the tools and the manpower to take care of your roof quickly and safely.  


How much snow is too much?

As a general rule, a structurally sound roof should be able to support 20 lbs per square inch, and every home is required to have a roof that will hold up to the area’s typical amount of snowfall.  So how much snow is that, exactly?

  • Fluffy Snow – If you have more than four feet of new, unpacked snow, you might begin to worry.
  • Packed Snow – Anything more than two feet of packed snow will start to stress your roof.
  • Ice – One inch of ice is the equivalent of one foot of new snow, so if you’ve got more than four inches of ice build up, it’s time to come up with a solution.  
  • Also, if you’re in the attic and you see any bent frames or hear popping and cracking after an unusually heavy snowfall, it’s definitely time to take action.  


How do you get the snow off your roof?

Now that we’ve determined how much snow is too much for your roof to support, how do you remove the snow before your roof collapses?

The best way to keep yourself, and your home safe, is to call a professional.  They will know exactly what your roof needs, and they’ll know how to execute their plan safely and efficiently.  Whether your roof requires reinforcement or just some general snow removal, they’ll be able to do it at a much lower cost than your life.  The experienced roofers at Werner Roofing are always available to take your call, and we provide a free quote request to all of our clients.  

If you do decide you want to do it yourself, please be careful.  It’s a good idea to buy a roof shovel with an extendable, or extremely long handle, so you can get as much snow as possible from the ground.  Remember to watch out for where the snow is going to fall, and stay clear.  If you have a home that’s two stories or more, it’s best to just call a professional.  At Werner Roofing, we’re glad to be of assistance, and we always offer a free estimate before we do anything!


If you have any questions regarding the health or integrity of your roof, don’t hesitate to call today!  We offer a free, no-obligation quote request, and we’re glad to answer any questions or fix any winter roofing issue.  



If you’re considering a new roof, the first step is to have us come out for a FREE inspection. This will allow us to evaluate your roof and give an honest estimate based on your roof’s current condition.


Do you have a roofing question? We’re here to help. Just let us know what you’re wondering about, and one of our representatives will get back with you shortly.

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