With winter weather comes snow and ice. And when that snow or ice builds up on your roof, heat from the sun causes it to melt creating water drips. A few drips refreeze to begin the base of the icicle. So how can you remove them safely? If the icicles are less than a foot long and an inch wide, they can be removed with a telescoping roof rake (like Snow Joe rake, $30; amazon.com), says Don Mandeville, a Home Depot district manager in Flint, Michigan. (Call a contractor for help with larger ones, to prevent roof damage.) Wear safety goggles and gloves (icicles can hurt), extend the rake from a distance, and gently push the base of the icicles to free them. Then drop some ice-melting tablets (such as Roofmelt, $19; amazon.com) into the gutter to liquefy ice in there.
To prevent icicles from forming in the first place, clean out gutters before freezing temps hit to keep items like leaves from clogging the downspouts and allowing water to build up says Jason Miller, a merchandising director for Lowe’s. After snow falls, use a roof rake to remove all snow and ice as soon as you can. “Pull the snow in the direction of your roof's slope. You don’t want to pull the rake across your roof because you’re more likely to damage shingles,” says Miller.
Also make sure your attic is properly insulated. Add more insulation, proper soffit and roof ventilation before the colder months. The attic should allow cold air to enter and exit to maintain a temperature cold enough to keep the snow from melting and forming icicles.