Beautiful Icicles Are Here But Beware of Ice Dams

Icicles! Beautiful icicles sparkling in the wintry sunlight create a bigger problem…Ice Dams

Ice dams

But… those dazzling icicles are an ugly menace to your roof.

Now that the weather finally seems to be on a warming trend, the icicles are not only appearing, but seem to grow before your very eyes. Beautiful! Especially with the warm sunlight, dancing on their surface. However, the presence of icicles on your roof is not a good sign. Instead, it’s indicating that ice dams have built up along the edge of your roof.

Ice dams can form in two different ways. The first is when the accumulated inches (or feet) of snow finally start to melt. Then this melted snow runs down to where it is a colder such as the soffits, in valleys or gutters. There it freezes again… until it thaws. This process of freezing, thawing, and refreezing again causes an ice dam. As the thawed water runs off the dam and freezes again, thaws, refreezes, those dazzling icicles are formed.

A second way is caused by inadequate ventilation or improper insulation in your attic. In these cases, the escaping heat causes the underside of the piled snow to melt. And just as in the first case, the water runs to where a part of your roof where it is colder and freezes again causing an ice dam. As the water in the ice dam thaws, it runs down, and there they are. Those spectacular icicles!

The ice dams and the resulting icicles can cause significant damage to your roof and gutters. Ice dams and icicles are heavy. Depending on the amount of weight, the structural integrity can be undermined. Wear and tear on the shingles can cause leaks as can water backed up behind the dam. If the dams form inside your gutters, the refreezing of the water causes expansion that will strain your gutters.  Making them pull away from the house resulting in possible leaks or damage to the gutters themselves.Ice dams cause problems

If you’re still not convinced, a much more compelling reason to remove icicles.  According to the Death in Society Research Foundation approximately 15 people die each year in the US due to icicle related accidents.  Icicles kill about 100 people per year in Russia.


Keeping in mind the danger posed by these beautiful, but could-be lethal weather phenomena. They need to be removed safely.  The easiest and least costly way is to use a snow rake.   Another is to keep your roof vents free of snow.  Make sure your attic is properly vented.  If the amount of snow and ice makes it too dangerous to remove them, call a contractor.  This may not only save your roof and gutters in the end, it may also save a life.