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Is Your Ice Dam an Emergency? Here’s How You Know

Many homeowners don’t want to call for ice dam removal unless they feel it’s an emergency.  After all, nobody wants to pay for ice dam removal if at all avoidable, and everyone hopes to “luck out” by having a warm snap or a thaw that will take care of the problem before we have to.

Mother Nature may give you no choice, other than the choice between expensive ice dam removal to prevent leaks and extremely expensive home repairs caused by leaks.  That’s what you might consider an ice dam emergency.

I’m going to share with you the 4 most common signs that you may need emergency ice dam removal.

  1. Leaking. It’s an emergency if your house is already leaking.  Any water in the house is a bad sign.  However, you’re not just looking for a visible trickle of water coming out of your ceiling.  You also want to look for wet spots on your carpet adjacent to walls, or moisture collecting at the edges of your windowsills.  There’s no good reason to wait until the ceiling looks like it will fall down.  In fact, if you periodically check for these more-subtle signs during ice dam season, you may just catch us before everyone else’s roof also begins leaking, in which case you can get help more quickly and not get stuck in line.
  1. Ice on your siding. You should also keep an eye out for ice on the siding.  If you see ice on the side of your house you’ll probably start to see leaks in your home within 12 to 36 hours.  Leaks may be in your home already, but the insulation behind your walls and above your ceiling is still soaking up the water like a sponge.  Any ice on your siding is a critical sign, in my experience.
  1. Ice under your soffits. Ice hanging from the underside of your overhangs (that is, your soffits) is a sure sign of an ice dam.  Consider yourself lucky if you see one of these two warning signs (ice on your siding or under your soffits). Most homeowners won’t catch them.  
  1. Giant, thick block of ice on your roof. It may or may not look like an ice dam.  The big block of ice doesn’t necessarily represent an emergency, but you should still be on Red Alert for leaks.  You could look up one day to see a corner of your ceiling in the dogfood bowl.  At that point, the whole ceiling could start coming down. 
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