How to Remove Icicles Safely (and Easily!)

Banish the icy formations from your roof and gutters.

Icicles hanging off a roof
Photo: maghakan/Getty Images

When snow or ice builds up on your roof during winter, heat from the sun causes it to melt and creates water drips. As they re-freeze, these drips form icicles. And voilà! You've got teeth-like chunks of ice above your head–which could potentially hurt people, pets, or your gutters.

So how can you remove them safely? If the icicles are less than 1 foot long and 1 inch wide, they can be removed with a telescoping roof rake (like Snow Joe rake, $49.99;, 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, $23.82; into the gutter to liquefy ice chunks in there.

To prevent icicles from forming in the first place, clean out leaves and debris from gutters before freezing temps hit. This keeps them 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 snow and ice as soon as you can. "Pull the snow in the direction of your roof's slope," says Miller. "You don't want to pull the rake across your roof because you're more likely to damage shingles."

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