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Ice Dam Repairs: 7 Ways to Minimize Water Damage

You don’t need a calendar to know when winter arrives. The first snowfall blankets the yard, and the kids can’t wait to go sledding. You’re keeping an eye on the weather forecast and the roof.

Ice dams are common problems this time of year. Here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we help Chicago home and business owners tackle water damage from ice dams every winter.

The best way to tackle ice dams is to prevent them, but if you’re already dealing with the problem we offer this guide to make your next round of ice dam repairs a little easier.

7 Steps That Make DIY Ice Dam Repairs Easier

The best ice dam solutions are the ones that make the job a little easier.

Follow these seven steps, put our pro tips to work, and stay safe. Always let someone know when you’re headed up on the ladder.

raking snow from roof in chicago home ice dam

1. Rake the Roof

You can’t stop the water damage from ice dams until you take care of the source. Use a wheeled rake roof to pull down as much snow as possible. The tool also helps remove accumulating water.

Pro Tip: Keep yourself safely grounded by using a light-weight plastic roof rake with a telescoping handle.

2. Melt Channels Around Eaves

Turn old pantyhose into ice dam busters. Slice off the legs, fill them with a calcium chloride ice melter, and tightly secure open ends. Place the stuffed stockings on the roof so that they hang over the ice dams. As they melt channels through the ice, adjust their position with your roof rake.

3. Break Up the Ice Dams

Don’t try to rush ice dam removal by pulling down large sections of ice. Instead, break the dams into small chunks. This technique gives you better control over the amount of ice hitting walls and windows below. It also minimizes the chance of damaging shingles and eaves.

Pro Tip: Avoid breaking ice dams with metal hammers that wreck gutters and eaves.

4. Assess the Water Damage

Icicles are obvious signs of ice dams, but potential problems don’t end at the edge of the roof. Make sure gutters and downspouts are still secure. Pay attention to exterior walls that seem excessively wet. After things dry out, recheck affected areas for a final damage assessment.

Pro Tip: Taking location pictures of exterior trouble spots makes it easier to find water damage inside your home

5. Freeze Leaks in the Attic

ice dam water leak in the ceiling of  chicago home

Ice dams often push water back up under shingles causing leaks through the roof. If you find water dripping into the attic, aim a box fan directly at wet spots. The cold air quickly freezes problem areas and buys extra time for starting water damage repairs.

6. Be Prepared for Mold and Mildew

When ice dam water leaks into the house, it seeps down through framing and walls. It can drip through ceilings like an overhead pipe burst and soak the floors. Add the cozy warmth of your home to this soggy scenario. Unhealthy mold growth quickly spreads through drywall, baseboards and carpets.

It’s hard to locate this type of interior water damage. It’s even harder to get rid of hidden mold growth. Be ready to call in a certified restoration contractor who specializes in mold removal and mitigation.

7. Take a Final Look At Exteriors

Once the weather clears, give the outside of the house a final inspection. Check the roof for damaged shingles and curled flashing. Dark areas are cause for concern too. Look out for gutters that might be buckled or split. Give downspouts a sturdy shake to make sure they’re still secure.

Practice Safe Ice Dam Solutions

Think through different solutions to ice dam problems. What works for the neighbor may not be a good idea at your home. If you’re not sure about how to handle things, call in a roofing professional.

If you’re comfortable with DIY ice dam removal, be sure to follow these safety tips.

• Check the ladder before you climb, and let someone inside know your plans.
• A metal hammer sends ice shards flying through the air. Stay safe by using a rubber mallet.
• Don’t work up on the roof with a shovel. Let professionals take the risk.
• Be careful with ice melt products that can peel paint and kill plants.

Water Damage Restoration Pros Can Help

It’s not unusual for the leaking from ice dams to cause widespread damage inside the house. Many homeowners are ready handle DIY water restoration, but some jobs are just too big.

ice dam repair pros in chicago

If you’re facing any of these problems, it’s best to bring in a water damage restoration company.

• Sagging or buckling ceilings
• Stained or crumbling drywall
• Warped floors or soggy carpets
• Wet furnishings and appliances
• Soaked personal belongings

Dealing with Ice Dams in Chicago, IL? We’re Ready for Your Call

Every winter, we help Chicago residents recover from the mess left behind after ice dam repair. Our ice dam water damage cleanup services help homeowners weather the worst all across the city and suburbs.

Regardless of the season, you can always count on ServiceMaster of Lake Shore.

When cleanup turns into more than a DIY job, give us a call here at 312-707-8597.

Get Help Now

(312) 707-8597

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Our office is located in downtown Chicago, IL just west of Millennium Park, nearby Willis Tower and Magnificent Mile. We provide 24 hour emergency fire and water damage cleanup to all of Chicagoland including Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Gold Coast, Lake View, Magnificent Mile and Little Village. We also provide a variety of specialty cleaning services.