Temperatures have climbed above freezing today across much of Iowa. The brief warm-up is helping street crews clear frozen snow and homeowners clean up their driveways and sidewalks. But, the melting snow can be a hazard if it’s on the roof and is prevented from draining by what’s known as an ice dam.

Fort Dodge home improvement specialist Bill McAnnally says removing the snow with the right implement is the key. He suggests buying a roof rake. “I have one of those that extends out about 20 feet and I can be on the ground and pull snow off places that might have an ice dam,” McAnnally said. “Sometimes you see people taking hatchets and shovels and all kinds of basically destructive materials towards their roof and that’s not good because the surface is cold and susceptible to damage.”

McAnnally says a ridge of ice can form at the edge of the roof and prevent melting snow from draining. He says the water can back up behind the ice dam and leak into the home. “In one particular case I saw it activated the home’s smoke alarm. It got in and short circuited the alarm,” McAnnally said. “It can build up so much, cause a lot of structural damage and in some instances collapse part of a house.”

He recommends taking a close look after each snowfall to make sure no ice dams have formed. McAnnally is a regular contributor to Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa program.