The worst has happened. There’s an ice dam on your roof and water is gushing into your home. Now you’re in damage control mode. You’ve got to minimize the damage.

So what do you do? Take the following steps.

Step 1: Call for Ice Dam Removal

You waited and waited, hoping the ice dam would just “go away” eventually. But it didn’t, and it won’t.

Your leak will not go away until the ice dam is completely gone. You’ve got no choice now—you’ve got to get some help. And don’t be fooled if the leak stops for a little while. Usually that happens after it gets dark, because temperatures plummet. Your leak has just frozen. It will come back.

Note! When one house is leaking it seems like just about every house in town starts leaking. You might start getting busy signals and full inboxes when you reach out to ice dam removal professionals. Keep trying! You can’t afford to do anything else at this point. Just stay patient and keep dialing the phone.

Incidentally, this is a great argument for calling an ice dam removal professional early, before they are slammed and before the water starts pouring into your home.

You could also take a little time to call your insurance company. They may pay for at least a portion of the ice dam removal (usually only the portion of the ice dam that’s causing the active leak). There are no guarantees, but you might as well see if you can save yourself a little money while you’re sitting there.

Step 2: Start Dealing with the Water

There’s no getting around it. Water’s coming into your home now. You’re going to have to find a way to catch it. You may have to wring out towels and put them back into service. You’re probably going to run out. You may also have to use some bed sheets.

You might also want to set up some fans. If you don’t have any, make a hardware store run and get one (or as many as you can squeeze into your SUV). Getting the water to evaporate is one of the smartest things you can do!

Just don’t do the dumbest thing you can do, which is reach for a space heater. Space heaters plus water equals fire hazard. And, as you’ll see below, heat is actually your enemy right now.

You should also check your sheetrock. If any has gotten water logged, you may want to drill a small hole into it and put down another bucket. This can help to save as much of your sheetrock as possible.

Step 3: Turn Down the Heat

Yes, it will be a bit chilly in your home until the crisis has passed, but you may very well slow down your leak by doing this. That’s because you’ll be encouraging it to freeze again, which could buy you some additional time. At the very least, you’ll slow down the rate at which the ice is melting so the flow of water slows as well.

Step 4: Think About Your Next Steps

Once the crisis has passed you need to think about how to prevent this problem in the future. One good step would be to schedule a home energy audit as soon as the snow goes away. This will allow you to fix some of the problems that are making your home prone to ice dams in the first place.

Making a commitment to rake your roof and ordering the tools to do it is another smart step.

Finally, winter’s not over yet. If you don’t want to repeat this same bad scene in just a few short weeks, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on your roof so you can call the ice dam removal professionals a second time at the first sign that a new ice dam is forming.