How to De-Ice Your Roof Safely

As a business owner you have many things to concern yourself with.  Part of that is the integrity of the building you work from.  Whether it is an office structure or an industrial facility, you need to be sure it is safe for your employees and customers.  One thing you should not overlook is the condition of the roof of your commercial building.

In the winter a serious concern is ice dams.  These usually show up on the edge of commercial roofs.  They act as in impediment to water trying to flow down the gutter and downspout.  This means you are facing icicles that can suddenly drop onto a vehicle, someone entering or leaving the building, or just a passerby posing liability risks and safety issues.  Additional problems include leaks and cracks in the roof.

The best way to handle an ice dam is to hire a professional.  However, if you feel you are able to deal with it on your own, or have an employee or maintenance worker tackle the problem, here are some options.

Snow Rake

For safety purposes, use the snow rake while standing on the ground below.  Using a ladder or being on the roof’s surface is extremely dangerous.  A misstep or lack of balance will cause a terrible accident.  To use a snow rake use a downward motion to scrape off snow buildup.  Another concern is if the snow rake is improperly used, it will cause more damage to the roof itself and then you will be dealing with leaks.

Ice Pick

how to de ice your roof safelyMaking sure the ladder has solid footing and is securely resting on a wall away from obstructions, climb to a point where you can safely reach the ice.  Carefully prick at the ice until it cracks and chips away.  Too much force and you can damage the roof or the guttering.  Take all safety precautions to prevent losing your balance or accidentally stabbing yourself.


There are commercial products that can be applied to melt the ice.  If you use this, make sure it is distributed evenly across the area.  Be careful to avoid getting this product on your face or in your eyes.  Be sure your clothes are free from any substance before you go inside.

Attic Fans

It is possible to carefully place a fan in the attic or upper area of the building to direct the warm air in the attic toward the ice dam.

Warm Water

Using a spray bottle, direct warm water onto the area until the obstruction begins to melt.  Be sure to handle hot water carefully to avoid burns.

Realize that all of these are just temporary fixes.  For a more permanent solution hire a commercial roofing company to locate the cause of the problem.  The more common causes include poor upper level insulation.  When there is not enough heat in the attic or top floor, the snow or sleet will simply refreeze.  The other issue is generally poor roof ventilation.  If the excess heat cannot escape into the correct direction.  It melts the snow but the other cooler area of the roof means it will just form that ice dam.

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