Roof and Gutter Ice Dams Are a Winter Menace!
They can build so quickly and go unnoticed until it is too late. The water starts dripping in through the trim on the window. Or it shows up as a stain on the ceiling. The icicles dripping on the stairs leading to the front door or the walk to the garage. What are we talking about? The Dreaded Ice Dam!
Just what is an ice dam? It is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, in the gutter or in a valley (the area where two roofs meet and form a trough). This ridge of ice or ice dam has the ability to stop water behind. Roofs are constructed to shed water that is fallind as rain not to protect against pooling water trapped behind an ice dam. There are many reasons for the formation of ice dams. Snow melt from heat loss, solar radiation, and temps fluctuating above and below freezing. What do you do if you have an ice dam? How can you remove it?
How to remove an ice dam
There are several ways to tackle an ice dam yourself. The first thing to remember is that your roof can be a dangerous place. It can be very slippery up there and falling ice can be very heavy. If you do not feel comfortable, please call a professional. The method used by the homeowner in the two pictures here was to melt the ice dams with hot water. A hose was hooked up the the hot water heater (through a sink) and hot water was routed onto the dam. You can see the hose above is connected to the roof rake to safely direct the water onto the dam. This process took all day and was exhausting. The hot water heater could only put out warm water for about 15 minutes before it needed time to reheat. Eventually the dam was cleared. This homeowner has had to do this several times this year. (This is a vacation home and the ice builds up before the snow can be raked from the roof.) If the homeowner had hired a professional steam ice dam removal company - the cost could have been $500-$1500. Are there other ways than using hot water to remove an ice dam yourself?
There are several "salts" on the market that can be used. Some put the salts in a sock, stocking or panty hose and lay that perpendicularly over the dam to try to melt channels in the dam to let the trapped water out. Over a period of time, moving the stocking can clear the dam. The briney melt water may also be able to clear the gutter and downspout. Others pour the salt right on the dam, repeating the process until the dam clears. It is also helpful to remove as much snow as you can from the roof as well using a roof rake. Removing the snow from the roof will rob the dam of its fuel - the melt water. It is important to get snow off as high as you can. Removing only a little at the bottom may mean the dam will be able to build again in a short period of time.
This removal process works well when the roof is easily accessible and one is physically able to do this work. What if you are not around to care for these tasks? What if you have physical limitations that prevent your from removing the snow and ice from your roof and gutters? What if you would rather not risk your life climbing an icy ladder?
Roof and gutter ice dam prevention systems to the rescue!
The homeowner from the two top pictures contacted Vermont Ice Dam Solutions to quote a system that would prevent his ice dams. He was tired of battling the ice dams year after year. He had sustained drywall damage. There is also the possibility of mold because of the dampness. Would you like more information on how we can help you protect your home from the damaging effects of roof and gutter ice dams? We would be happy to meet with you. Fill out the Contact Us form to get the ball rolling. We promise to get you off the ladder and let you put the roof rake away.