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How to avoid potentially damaging ice buildup on your roof

Products like roof rakes and calcium chloride tablets can be used to make sure water isn't being trapped under ice formations on top of your home
Roofmelt roof snow ice
Posted at 8:11 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 08:11:41-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we inch closer to warmer temperatures in West Michigan, ice buildup on top of our homes has the potential to create some serious damage. Using products like roof rakes and tablets of calcium chloride can help to make sure water doesn't end up seeping into your home as it melts.

While icicles are often thought of as a fun symbol of the winter months, they can also be a sign that your roof is in trouble.

As water freezes, and ice forms up on your roof, they can create what are called ice dams.

Ice dams can do a lot of damage to the shingles and damage to people's roofs where the water gets under the ice and starts to come into the house,” said Bob Hams, sales manager for Kassouni Mfg. Inc.

“So you're gonna see peeling paint around your windows, a lot of times it'll come in around your window sills.”

When the ice forms, it has the potential to trap water from rolling off the roof. This water is typically what causes damage.

One way to avoid this from happening in the first place is to keep your roof clear of snow.

Roof rakes are an easy way to keep them clear— a pretty straightforward concept, roof rakes are basically flat shovels with an extendable arm.

“And basically you just shovel off the roof or use it as a rake, and kind of pull it back and down,” said Joel DeJong, manager at Alger Hardware in Alger Heights.

But if you've already got ice formations up on top of your home, you will want to use a product like RoofMelt.

RoofMelt comes as a bucket of hockey puck-sized tablets of pure calcium chloride.

"Calcium chloride is pretty much the best ice melter that's available. We tablet it into hockey puck-size tablets so that you can throw it on the ice dams on your roof when they form," said Bob Hams, sales manager for Kassouni Mfg Inc, the company that makes RoofMelt.

When using a product like RoofMelt, you want to make sure that you toss them onto your roof past any ice dams that have formed.

“You want to make sure that you're throwing it up far enough," DeJong said.

"If it's sitting, you know, right on top of the ice buildup, it's going to get the front of it, but it's not going to get the stuff that's built up past it.”