Ice Dam Water is Leaking into My House: What Should I do?

Author: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Last Updated on

It can bring down gutters and peel off shingles, but you worry about interior damage too. When ice dam water begins leaking into the house, you need an action plan.

How do you control melting snow and ice that creeps into the attic and seeps around windows? How can you minimize water damage to floors, ceilings and walls?

It happens every winter to homes all across this part of the country. We want you to be ready before it happens to you.

What to do When Ice Dam Water Starts Leaking Into the House

Sometimes, even the best ice dam prevention strategies fail. You can’t stop the leaks with a turn-off valve or patch them with plumber’s putty. These six steps can help you deal with water seeping into the house from ice dam backups.

ice dam caused water damage in chicago home

1. Call a Water Damage Restoration Company

It’s very difficult to address damage caused by ice dam water backup inside the house. Soaked drywall, wet floors, soggy ceilings and stains from leaks are just a few of the problems you face. At the first sign of trouble, call in ice dam water damage specialists who handle cleanup and restoration.

2. Try to Remove the Ice Dams

If the weather’s on your side and you’re comfortable climbing a ladder, ice dam removal can be a DIY project. However, many local companies provide this type of service.

3. Turn Fans On and the Heat Down

Start the drying process inside by setting up fans in affected areas. Direct strong currents of fresh air across damp floors, walls and ceilings. Lower the thermostat to reduce heat buildup in the attic and slow down melting on the roof.

4. Check Storm Window Weep-Holes

If ice dam leaks are seeping in around windows, make sure weep-holes in the storm window frames are clear. You can also drill small holes between window frames and sill lips to channel leaking water to the outside.

5. Keep an Eye on the Ceiling

Water backup from ice dams can leak into the attic, through insulation and down into ceilings. If you notice water dripping from overhead light fixtures, address it right away. Be very careful with ceiling bulges too. Both problems should be taken care of by professionals.

6. Keep Checking the Roof

Until ice dams are removed or they melt away, keep checking the roof for potential problems. Look for patches where snow has melted. If you can see shingles, inspect the attic just below the area for leaks.

Are Icicles a Sign of Poor Insulation?

Icicles don’t back up water into the house like ice dams, but they’re often indicators of problems in the attic. Old, matted insulation results in heat loss through the roof, and that causes icicles along the eaves.

Poor attic ventilation can also create melting and freezing cycles on top of the house. When icicles start decorating the eaves, you know conditions are right for ice dams to build up too.

How Do You Quickly Get Rid of Ice Dams?

Break up ice dams with a rubber mallet, but be careful not to damage the roof. Calcium chloride crystals can speed up the process. However, the runoff can hurt surrounding plants and trees.

If you need an emergency fix for ice dams, try a garden hose. Use it to melt channels through the ice dams and release backed-up water. This temporary solution works best when temperatures are above freezing.

Are Ice Dams Covered by Insurance?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the cost of removing ice dams, but we recommend leaving the work to professionals. The water damage that results from leaking ice dams should be covered by your insurance.

If you aren’t sure about policy details, talk to your agent. Ask about specific water damage coverage including interior and exterior leaks from ice dams. You might want to update insurance protection for your house and belongings.

Always Stay Safe

servicemaster truck

Breaking up ice dams on a steep roof can be dangerous work. If you have second thoughts about the job, stay safe by staying off the ladder. Contact a local business that handles ice dam removal.

Keep in mind that they don’t take care of property cleanup and restoration. That’s our specialty, so give us a call here at ServiceMaster by Zaba. We’re Chicago’s ice dam water damage repair experts, and we’re here for you 24/7.

Do ice dams always damage the house?

If you don’t take care of them, ice dams cause melting snow to back up under the roof and into walls. The water damage ruins roof decks and rafters, rots interior wall frames and soaks the attic.

How can I safely get rid of ice dams on the roof?

Let a professional handle the job. You can pull down accumulated snow with a roof rake and push broom, but it’s safer to let a trained technician remove ice dams.

How do I melt ice dams in my gutters?

Cut the leg off a pair of pantyhose, fill it with an ice melter, and secure the open end. Position it so that it lays across the ice dam and hangs over the gutter. This technique melts a channel that drains backed-up water.