PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ice dams occur when warm air from the attic melts snow on the roof and that water freezes.

Getting rid of them can be dangerous because it requires someone to go one-on-one with the ice.

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In 2013, nearly 176,000 people fell from ladders and ended up in the hospital.

“If you’re tackling removing an ice dam yourself, the number one concern you should have is for your safety. Be sure you have a buddy who’s going to help you with the ladder because remember, it’s snowy and icy out,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks.

You can try using de-icing pellets that look like white hockey pucks to clear ice and roof rakes to clear snow yourself. Angie says it’s a good idea to do a self-evaluation as well as to think about your tool collection before you climb up to roof height.

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“If you’re not in good shape or you’re afraid of heights like I am, this is probably not a do-it-yourself job for you. Hiring a handyman or even a roofer to come tackle this job, they’ll have the right equipment and the right safety gear,” Angie Hicks said.

To prevent ice dams in the first place, make sure you don’t already have a problem in your attic. That means two things have to be in place: enough insulation and proper ventilation, which includes exhaust through the roof-line and intake vents in the soffit, or eave, area.

“Provided that your roof is installed properly, you should never have any problems,” said roofing expert Rod Standifer.

Adequate insulation is the best preventative. Two-thirds of American homes don’t have enough insulation in their attics.

“Your insulation should be almost up to – depending on how tall you are – up to your knee. But 13 and-a-half inches, 12 inches, I mean you’re going to be okay,” Standifer said.

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Properly insulating your home and sealing drafts can save you 10 to 20 percent on yearly utility costs. An average insulation by a professional costs about $2,000.