Ice on the roof? It could be an ice dam

With significant amounts of snow in many states this winter, ice buildup on your roof can cause damage to your home or building.

An ice dam is a blockage formed from melting snow that freezes along the roof edges and gutters. As ice builds, it can trap water that eventually will seep through the seams of your roof shingles and can cause significant damage to your walls, insulation, ceiling, and other areas.

In these remaining winter months it's all about damage control. If you see ice dams forming, here is what you can do to minimize the potential damage:

Don't risk your life. Unless you've been properly trained, removing an ice dam can be quite dangerous. You are risking severe personal injury to yourself and damage to your roof. We strongly recommend contacting professionals with the proper equipment and roofing experience to carry out this job.

Remove excess snow. If more than a foot of snow falls, remove it by using a roof rake or push broom. Carefully and very lightly sweep the rake or broom down the slope of the roof line. Never pull snow sideways across the roof or it may break off the shingles. It's not necessary to remove all of the ice in the gutters or the ice dam itself, as long as you have removed the snow from the roof.

Bring the heat. Sprinkle the ice buildup with lawn fertilizer that contains urea particles (found at most hardware or home and garden stores). The higher the nitrogen content in the fertilizer, the faster the ice will melt. Don't use driveway salt, which can kill your plants and grass.

Break the ice. Don't allow icicles to hang from the roofline or gutters. They may look beautiful, but you might not realize the significance of the damage that may be occurring behind them. Carefully break them off and keep the icicles away from the foundation of your home.

For more information on ice dams, click here.