The damage ice and snow can do and how to prevent them

Part of the beauty of living in the upper Midwest is the snow fall in the wintertime. While we all love the vision of a family around the fireplace sipping hot chocolate while the wind whips snow playfully outside, there is a harsher reality, snow and ice are a force of nature that can cause a fair amount of damage to homes and property. The good news is that with the right tools and the right knowledge, you can do a lot of preventative things to protect your property from snow and ice. These tips can be used as preventative, but we’ll also address what to do if this is happening to you now.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are a ridge of ice that forms on the eaves (edges) of roofs, and in gutters, of heated homes, garages, or outbuildings that have a slopped roof and/or gutters. Basically, the snow builds up on the roof melts and then forms the ridge of ice making new snow melt water stuck behind the ice dam to find other ways to move which results in water leak damage in your roof, walls, insulation and ceiling.

  • Prevention
    • Keep snow off your roof. There are a variety of roof rakes available to clear off snow from your roof which will help eliminate since there will be much less snow melt on the roof. Beware that certain roof rakes can damage your roof, never scrape the roof shingles or chop the roof with the roof rake or any other tools.
    • Keep your gutters clean or consider carefree gutters. This gives water and ice less to hold on to during the melting and freezing process.
    • Add insulation to the attic to reduce the amount of heat reaching your roof.
    • Seal any known separation areas between the roof and the structure of the building. This is more common in outbuildings but can happen to any roofed structure.
  • Current Ice Dam
    • Continue to keep any new snow off your roof using a roof rake.
    • Create a channel for water to escape. Do NOT use salt melt on your roof. You can use calcium chloride. Take the leg of a pair of panty hose and fill several with calcium chloride. Place them vertically on the roof and have it overhang the dam slightly, allowing the melt to create a channel. Another possibility is installing electrical heat strips specifically made for ice dams on your roof.

Safety note! – Going on your roof always creates a safety hazard, however, in the winter the risk of slipping andf falling is particularly high. We recommend that if you have any on-roof needs during the winter you consider calling a professional.

Garage Door Frozen

  • Prevention
    • Make sure your weather stripping around your garage door is free from rips or defects. If you don’t have weather stripping around your garage door, consider installing it.
    • Make sure water isn’t dripping on the garage door. Gutters can move water drip away from the door.
    • Garage attic insulation will help reduce ice dams from forming above the garage door. \
  • Garage Door Currently Frozen
    • Do NOT chip at the door, try to pry the door open, or repeatedly try the garage door opener.
    • Do disengage your garage door opener and clean all ice and snow away from your garage door.
    • If there is any water, wipe it away with a dry cloth
    • Open the door by hand to get it moving again, and then reengage the garage door opener.

Ice/Snow on Tree Limbs

Tree limbs can cause scratching to your siding, windows, and damage to your roof.  Additionally, large branches can fall and cause significantly more damage. Keeping your trees trimmed and healthy helps prevent winter woes.

  • Prevention
    • Keep your trees trimmed. When trimming, keep in mind the level of droop the branch may experience when filled with ice or heavy snow.
    • When planting new trees, consider tree strength and weather zones before planting.
  • Tree is already weighed down with snow or ice
    • Resist the temptation to shake the tree. This can cause considerable damage to the tree, to your property, and frankly, to you. Falling branches from a frozen tree can be extremely dangerous.
    • If you see broken branches either remove them, if you can do so safely, or call a professional to come and remove the branches.
    • If the frozen branches are threatening to touch a power line, call your local power company and let them know, they will deal with the issue. (Depending on your area, you may be charged for the work they do, but it will be better than a fallen branch and the damage it can cause.)

Frozen Pipes

There is never a “good” issue that snow, and ice can cause, but frozen pipes can easily be the biggest nightmare. Prevention can really make a difference.


  • Insulate your pipes. There are a variety of options available for insulating your pipes whether your home or outbuildings. Actual pipe insulation or heat tape are two great choices.
  • Make sure to remove any hoses from your home, including the sump pump drainage hose.
  • Keep your home or outbuilding heated.
  • Open cabinets and doors near piping to allow for heat and ventilation.
  • In high-risk times, allow a small drip from your faucet.

Pipes are frozen

  • Shut off your main water source.
  • If you can figure out where the pipe is frozen, warm it with a space heater or blow dryer. (Note, NEVER leave a space heater unattended. Never apply a flame to a pipe.)
  • If you can thaw the pipe and find a leak, repair the leak.
  • If you are unable to unfreeze the pipe, you can call a professional to come out and thaw the pipes with specialized equipment.


Unfortunately, there are many other ways that snow and ice can give you headaches during the winter months. A few honorable mentions are cracks in your driveway and clogged ventilation. No matter what your snow and/or ice headache is, the team at Mimbach Fleet and Supply can help you come up with a solution. Mimbach offers a wide variety of tools and supplies to keep your home and your property safe in any season.


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