Prepare for Ice Dams in the Offseason

Joe Palumbo
Written by Joe Palumbo
Updated March 9, 2016
ice dam prevention contractor
Prevent ice dams from forming by creating a plan in the offseason. (Photo courtesy of Ice Dam Guys)

Plan ahead to prevent ice dams next winter.

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In March, it's still peak ice dam season in many parts of the U.S. But if you’re lucky enough to see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s time to begin safeguarding your home against next winter's ice dams.

Why now? Because if you’re anything like most of us, ice dam prevention will be the last thing you want to think about when it’s warm and pleasant. You need to start using your plan in September, so creating that plan in the spring gives you plenty of time.

Here are important steps to take to prevent ice dams, one month at a time.

Ice dam prevention in September

September is the latest you should wait to get a home energy audit and to call in the pros to correct whatever your home energy auditor recommends you repair, upgrade, seal, etc. It’s the ideal time to improve insulation and seal up attic bypasses so that your roof doesn’t get too warm in the winter. A cool roof means less melted snow, which drastically reduces the chances of ice dams forming atop your roof.

But if you wait much longer than September, your professional might not be able to see you soon enough or complete the job before it’s too cold and wet.

Ice dam prevention in October

In October, you should get your gutters cleaned. Although dirty gutters don’t cause ice dams, you don’t want to leave a pool of water in your gutters and downspouts shortly before the frigid temps are upon us. The water will freeze in the winter, which will contribute to your ice dam problem.

In addition, big frozen chunks of ice and debris are difficult to get out of gutters. You’ll probably pay extra for ice dam removal if your gutters are plugged with leaves and ice. Leaves and debris slow down the ice melting process immensely. Hire someone to clean your gutters if you don’t want to get on the ladder yourself, but get it done.

Ice dam prevention in November

By November, you should begin shopping for a roof rake if you don’t have one already. Stores run out of them every single year, and if you wait too long, you’ll either be left with no roof rake, a flimsy roof rake, or the wrong style of roof rake, such as one without wheels or bumpers. Research what type of roof rake you need before you run out to the store.

Ice dam prevention in December

In December, it’s time to start raking your roof. Roof raking works! In fact, you can often prevent ice dams simply by roof raking, even if you didn’t do anything else. You just need to rake the roof whenever more than a couple of inches of snow accumulate. Reach as far up your roof as you can.

During ice dam season and after

January through March is peak season for ice dam removal. By then it’s pretty much too late for your ounce of prevention, other than raking your roof. It’s time for your pound of cure. Call an ice dam professional if ice dams start to form. Don’t wait until they’re 12-inches thick.

By April and May, you can forget about ice dams, right? Maybe. It depends on how long winter lasts, and if you had any ice dam issues this winter. If you had ice dams, you’ve probably got contractors to call to repair the damage on the inside of your home. This would also be a great time to get a jump on obtaining a home energy audit, along with any recommended upgrades.

If you avoided ice dams this winter, you can put your feet up. You’re done with ice dams for now.

Is your home ready for next winter’s ice dam season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

As of March 8, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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