Skip to main content

Is your roof old or damaged? Get a free estimate today

« View All Posts

Gutters | Ice Dams

3 Visual Clues Ice Dams Are Building Up

January 13, 2023 | 3 min. read

Print/Save as PDF

The midwest is famous for two things: beer and wicked winter weather.

It’s no secret that we deal with snow – and a lot of it. Every winter, we experience winter storms that can leave us shoveling and snow plowing for days. 

It isn’t just the amount of snow that can pose a problem. Many homeowners will notice leaks in the winter from ice dams.

Rescue My Roof has spent over a decade braving the Wisconsin Winter to help homeowners solve ice dam issues. We have worked with hundreds of customers who have experienced the same leaking issues that you have, so we understand that it can be stressful. 

It’s important to know what to look for visually to tell that ice dams are building up and stop them in their tracks before leaks happen. We’ll cover the three visual signs of ice dams, and ultimately, you’ll be able to tell when they’re becoming a problem. 

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice build-up (ice dam) along a roof line.

An ice dam forms when snow and ice freeze down by your gutters and create a blockage. Unfortunately, when the snow at the peak of your roof melts,  the ice dam blocks it from properly draining into your gutters. 

Your roof is not meant to hold standing water. So when the ice dam has led to a mini-lake on your roof, the water will eventually find a way to seal into your home.

The results: rotten decking, mold growth in the attic, and interior drywall damage. Yikes, those all sound like a complicated fix. 

Ice dams are likely to occur around your gutters and valleys. If your roof begins to leak in these areas in the winter, it is likely the result of ice dams. 

Three Signs Ice Dams Are Affecting Your Roof

In severe cases, ice dams can cause leaks in your attic and basement and cause interior drywall damage. 

You must catch ice dams early before they cause problems, and use preventative measures like heating cables and ice dam steaming. 

Here are three signs to look out for that indicate you need to treat your roof for ice dams ASAP.

1. Iced-Over Gutters

Iced-over, frozen gutters.

Gutters must be clear and free from debris to work effectively. Anything blocking the gutters, from leaves to ice, cannot redirect the water flow away from home.

If the gutters cannot redirect, water leaks can ensue. Water will pool at your home’s foundation and can leak into your basement. 

Ice dams are very common in the winter. And not only does the ice build-up at your roof’s edge, but it can also freeze over your gutters.

If you see a big block of ice in your gutters – you’re dealing with ice dam issues. You will want to call a roofing contractor for ice dam remediation services as soon as possible before damage occurs. 

2. Severe Icicles

Icicles hanging from the gutters.

It can be challenging to notice ice building up on your roof, but icicles are a tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with ice dams. 

It’s normal to have a few icicles hanging from your roof line in winter. However, if you notice giant icicles or icicles lining the roof line, you are witnessing the beginning of ice dam issues. 

You can use heating cables or calcium chloride to melt the existing ice. It’s also wise to call a contractor for steaming services that will melt the ice without roof damage.

If the icicles aren’t addressed, it can lead to roof damage and leaks. You don’t want to start April showers with a leaking roof. Call the professionals to tackle issues before they spiral out of control. 

3. Thick Ice On Your Roof-Line

Thick ice along a roof's edge.

A little ice on your roof by the gutters is normal. Typically, you’ll see one to two inches throughout winter.

However, it’s time to take action against ice dams when the ice accumulates from three to six inches. 

Using heating cables and other ice dam remediation methods will prevent home damage.

Using Ice Dam Removal Methods

There are two ways to address ice dams: take preventative action and utilize removal methods. 

If you see ice coating your gutters, thick icicles, and a three to a six-inch block of ice accumulating on your roof, it’s time to call the professionals.

Roofing contractors can use steam machines and chemicals to safely remove ice from your roof and gutters, allowing your home to run efficiently again. 

After the bulk of the work is done, you can devise preventative measures to ensure those changes last.

You can learn more about ice dams, and winter roof damage with “What Are Ice Dams” and “Ice Dam Removal Face Off: Chisels vs. Steamers.”
You’re in the right place if you need to address an extra icy Wisconsin roof. Get a free estimate with Rescue My Roof today.