Ice dams in Sioux Falls.

“Ice dam.” Even the name doesn’t sound good.

You may have heard that you should prevent ice dams as part of your winter prep Sioux Falls . . . but what does that even mean?

Today, we’re telling you everything you need to know about ice dams in South Dakota — what they are, why they’re bad, and how to avoid (or remove) them on your home.

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a continuous chunk of ice that forms along the edge of your roof.

Ice dams in Sioux Falls occur when, after a heavy snowfall, the warm air in your attic causes the snow on your roof to melt. The water then runs down your roof before refreezing near the cold gutters, forming a mound of ice (and possibly icicles) along the edge of your roof.

An ice dam itself is pretty much harmless . . . that is, until it melts.

When the water on your roof begins to melt, it collects behind the ice dam, then seeps underneath your shingles. Eventually, the water could drip through the roof into your insulation, soffits, or (gasp!) even your ceiling.

So when they’re not taken care of, ice dams prevent melted snow from draining off your roof — possibly causing serious water damage in Sioux Falls.

How Do I Avoid Ice Dams in Sioux Falls?

You can see why it’s important to avoid ice dams, right?

To ensure your home stays free from ice dams this winter, here are three good precautions to take:

  1. Make sure your top floor or attic is properly insulated. Building codes typically require 12 to 14 inches of fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Add more if you’ve had problems with ice dams in the past.
  2. Close up attic bypasses. In the average house, about one-third of heat loss occurs through the ceiling into the attic. Climb into your attic, pull or rake back the insulation, and plug any air leaks using foam or caulk. (Bonus: this will make your home more energy efficient, too!)
  3. Install more vents in your attic. Without proper ventilation, the heat in your attic has nowhere to go but through the roof. You can’t really have too much attic ventilation, so when in doubt, install more vents.

You can learn more about preventing ice dams in Sioux Falls here. The primary thing to keep in mind is simply to keep your roof cold. 

What If I Already Have an Ice Dam?

We haven’t had much too snow in Sioux Falls this December, but without adequate attic insulation and ventilation, you may already be dealing with ice dams on your roof.

If that’s the case, you’ll want to remove the ice dam before it causes water damage or even mold. Here are three ways to remove ice dams in Sioux Falls:

  1. Remove excess snow from your roof. After a heavy snowfall, excess snow will insulate the ice, leading to even more melting and leaking. Take a roof rake, and remove the snow three to four feet from the edge of your roof (taking care not to rake the shingles along with it!).
  2. Use calcium chloride. If your goal is to melt the ice, calcium chloride will do it more quickly — and safely — than trying to chip away at the ice. Do your research first, and be careful not to spill the calcium chloride on any plants nearby.
  3. Hire a professional. It may sounds like a cop-out, but when you’re dealing with snow, ice, and potential water damage, you can’t be too careful.

If you’ve already noticed water damage or mold in your home, please call our team. Whether or not you suspect they’re the cause of ice dams, you still don’t want to leave those issues alone too long.

Let us get your home back into tip-top shape for the holidays!

LEARN HOW WE CAN HELP WITH WATER DAMAGE IN SIOUX FALLS