ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Minneapolis Ice Dams

Updated on January 16, 2011
How ice dams form
How ice dams form

Ice Dams and Ice Dam Removal

Here in the Minneapolis area as well as other parts of the upper midwest the heavier than usual early snowstorms in December have made conditions favorable for ice dams to form. This year homeowners that have never had ice dam issues in the past are seeing them form on their homes recently. Left on their own, ice dams can keep building up from the edge of roofs and cause water to back up under the shingles. Once the water starts backing up, it will sooner or later find its way into the house. As we all know, water entering the home will cause damage and the chance of mold forming increases. Ice dam removal can become a necessity rather than an option for some homeowners.

How Ice Dams Form

Ice dams are caused by a combination of heat loss from the house, snow that is built up on the roof and outside temperatures. For ice dams to form there must be snow on the roof and higher portions of the roof's exterior surface must be above 32°F while lower surfaces, near your overhangs, are below 32°F.

The snow on the warmer areas of the roof will melt and water will start to run toward the colder portions of your roof.  As the water flows and hits the area of the roof that is below 32°F the ice dams will begin to form.

The dam grows as it is fed by the melting snow above it. The ice dams will grown in the below freezing areas as more water flows to those areas.  The water that builds up behind the ide dams finds cracks and openings in the exterior roofing and flows into the attic space. From the attic it can flow into walls and ceilings and cause more damage.

Ice Dam Prevention

One step to help in the prevention of ice dams is to remove the snow from your roof. The safest way is to use a roof rake to remove the snow from the edges of your roof while you are standing safely on the ground. Removing a four foot strip of snow around the perimeter of your roof soon after a snowfall can help prevent an ice dam from forming. The next step in ice dam prevention is to find the cause or causes of the heat loss. It is the heat that is escaping through your roof that is melting the snow creating the ice dams. Heat loss can be caused by lack of proper insulation in your attic, heat loss around vent openings in your roof and improper attic venting. A building professional can offer solutions to help eliminate your ice dam problems.

Ice Dam Removal

As soon as you see icicles and/or a built up ridge of ice on the edges of your roof it is time for ice dam removal. You want to get the ice dams removed before you have water entering your home. Do not use a hammer, chisel, axe or torch. These methods can damage your home and you run the risk of injury by being up on a ladder or slippery roof. Two people have been killed so far this year in the Minneapolis area from injuries that were caused by the homeowner falling off of their roof while attempting ice dam removal. The safest method for you and your home is professional steaming. There are companies that offer their services for professional ice dam removal. They will first remove the snow from your roof and then use steam to melt the ice dams. Depending on the contractor, location and site conditions costs can range anywhere from $250 to $350 per hour. Steeper roofs make ice dam removal more difficult so that may have an impact on price by some of the contractors. Steaming an ice dam is really your best and quickest option for removal. Also, contact your insurance agent. Some homeowners have been able to claim the ice dam removal, especially if they have interior water damage. Many homeowners in Minnesota have seen thousands of dollars of damage done to the interior of their home already this year.

An ice dam that is being removed from the edge of a roof. These homeowners were experiencing a lot of water entering their home.
An ice dam that is being removed from the edge of a roof. These homeowners were experiencing a lot of water entering their home.
Ice dams on the edges with the heatloss are very visible.
Ice dams on the edges with the heatloss are very visible.
This is a roof after ice dam removal on a day with -20 windchill.
This is a roof after ice dam removal on a day with -20 windchill.
This home had severe water damage to the upper level. Heatloss is being caused by a secondary furnace located in the upper level.
This home had severe water damage to the upper level. Heatloss is being caused by a secondary furnace located in the upper level.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I second yellebelly's comment. It is better to prevent than to treat. You can do this by installing a snowmelt on your roof.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Very interesting. We don't have to worry about ice dams building up on our roofs in Houston or anywhere in the South for that matter. But we still need good insulation in our attics to prevent the loss of cooling for most of the year.

      Answered your query BTW about Texas Steers. Nice meeting you here via HubPages!

    • yellabelly profile image


      7 years ago

      Ice dam removal can also be accomplished by deicing the roof with heat. Check this out


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)