Don’t Let Your Ice Dam You
Ice Dams occur when the snow melts on your roof and the water runs down and freezes over the eaves. The melting snow keeps running down the roof but there is nowhere for it to go so it backs up behind the ice and under the roofing shingles before it refreezes. When the melting begins again the water will cause seepage through your ceilings and walls. This can cause considerable damage. The good news is there are some steps you can take to prevent ice dams, and all of their damn damage, from freezing and melting all over the insides of your home.
1) Keep your gutters and downspouts free of snow, debris, and ice so all that melting water has somewhere to go.
2) Remove the snow from the edges of your roof. You can buy a long-handled roof rake from a hardware store that allows you to remove the snow while standing safely on the ground. We do not recommend going on the roof. If you are unable to use a roof rake and no neighborhood teenagers want your money then please hire a professional!
3) You want to trap all of that nice warm air you’re paying for inside your house. A thick layer of insulation in your attic or crawl space provides an effective barrier to keep that warm air in and allows the roof to stay cold so that the snow does not melt as fast and cause problems. The recommendation is to use insulation with an R-value of at least R30 to R38.
For more information on this see SGI Canada’s Website
In case you still aren’t quite sure what ice dams look like – here are some warning signs you should look out for on your house:
1) Icicles along the edge of your roof or gutters.
2) Ice forming on the exterior of your house OR water dripping down the exterior.
3) Your gutters are full with ice or ice develops along the overhangs of your roof.
4) You have icicles forming or water dripping from your soffits (or underside of your roof)
5) Or if you have any water coming into your home (walls, ceiling, etc.) it’s a pretty sure sign you have an ice dam. Please don’t let it get to this stage! If you go outside after reading this and notice you are having a problem, or if you start to see water stains in your ceiling and walls, please don’t try to take care of it yourself. Hire a professional to remove it.
Here is a link to an article by a man who tried everything just to see what DIY methods worked and what didn’t. It’s an interesting read and a good idea to take a look at before disregarding everything I’ve said and trying to take care of it yourself anyways. His conclusion is the same as mine: the safest and most effective way to have an ice dam removed is to have a professional steam it off.
Here is an article about what you can expect when hiring a professional.