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How to Identify, Prevent, and Remove Ice Dams in St. Cloud, MN

A row of icicles along your roofline may make your home in St. Cloud, MN look festive, but they’re often a sign that there’s a problem on the roof. Poorly insulated attics that allow heat to escape or sudden warm spells cause the snow on the top of your home to melt. When the water from melting snow runs into ice buildups, clogged gutters or other debris, it backs up into a puddle on the roof. This phenomenon is known as an ice dam. Flat places on roofs are also prime places for ice dams, because the water collects but has nowhere to go. Over time, that water can work its way under shingles and roofing materials and into buildings, where it can damage ceilings, walls, and other areas and cause mold growth. The weight of the ice dam can pull gutters and downspouts away from the exterior of your home, so it’s important to check your home for signs of ice dams on a regular basis throughout the winter to avoid costly repairs.

How to Tell If You Have an Ice Dam

How to Identify, Prevent, and Remove Ice Dams in St. Cloud, MNMost ice dams build up on the edges of rooftops, but depending on the style of yours, they can develop in other locations. There are usually a few mild days every winter that are warm enough to pull out the ladder and check any spots that are flat or don’t slope very much.

Check for icicles around the exterior of your home. If they’re only along the gutter and there’s no water buildup behind them, there probably isn’t an ice dam but they can contribute to the formation of one in the future. Large icicles can hurt people and animals if they break off unexpectedly. Remove them before they get too large, but don’t stand directly underneath them.

Look for water stains or moisture on ceilings, walls, and in the attic. As the water pools up on the roof, it works its way under shingles and the roof membrane and leaves discolorations on painted surfaces.

Ice Dam Removal

If you find an ice dam on your home in St. Cloud, MN, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible, before it can cause more damage to your home. Waiting until spring is usually not a viable option. One way is to use calcium chloride ice melt.

  1. Use a roof rake to remove 3-4 feet of snow from the edge of the roof. Be sure not to damage any shingles or block any sidewalks under the roof.
  2. Fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it along the ice dam, using a ladder. This is available in hardware and big box stores. DO NOT use rock salt or sodium chloride, both of which can damage your roof.
  3. Cover any plants and shrubs under the affected gutters and nearby downspouts as long as the calcium chloride is in place and until the dripping has stopped. The melting water will be hazardous to plants because of the sodium levels.

Another method to remove ice dams is to hire a roofing company to steam the ice away and remove large chunks. This method is safer for multi-story buildings and doesn’t have the potential environmental impact of using calcium chloride.

Preventing Ice Dams

Preventing Ice DamsThere isn’t a way to control weather fluctuations, but when temperatures are warm after a storm, have someone steady a ladder and check the roof for excess snow or a potential dam in progress. Use a roof rake to remove excess snow while you’re up there. If you needed one more reason to add insulation to the attic, it has been shown to help prevent ice dams. Proper insulation in the attic helps keep it near the same temperature as the outside, so snow won’t melt on the roof. Usually this means insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable, and ridge vents to allow excess heat to escape.

When you experience water damage for any reason in the St. Cloud, MN area, you need it cleaned up quickly, before the damage spreads and mold begins to grow. ServiceMaster Professional Services is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to all types of disasters. We use only the most effective products and equipment available to the industry, so our clients receive the highest levels of quality cleaning and restoration.

Water damage restoration costs vary, depending on the extent of the damage, the presence of mold, and the amount of restoration needed. According to, the national average to remove standing water is $2,808. The national average to repair water damage is $2,564 and the national average to remove mold is $2,149.


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