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Ice Dams: Your Roof’s Winter Enemy

Ice_dam_slate_roof-photo credit dmcroof

Many homeowners despise the winter season and all that Jack Frost has to offer upon “his” arrival. Winter can bring many weather obstacles such as snow, sleet, hail, and ice. These wintry conditions can also lead to large spendings on home damage repairs. Among the aforementioned weather obstacles, one of the most expensive and damaging is ice, which forms ice dams on roofs. Typically, ice dams are caused by poor insulation and venting of the space under the roof. During severe winter conditions, large buildups of ice turn into an ice dam that forms at the edge of a roof. Both your roof and the interior of your home are susceptible to damage from ice dams, not to mention gutters and downspouts.

When the roof warms up, a layer of snow on the roof melts and forms into an ice dam. The melted snow/water drips down to the shingles and all the way to the eave of the roof. The water freezes and eventually forms into a mound of ice. Ice dams can easily accumulate on flat roof pitches. Snow and ice can even build up inside gutters and create the beginnings of an ice dam.

Ice dams can cause further damage, affecting the interior of your home. Large ice dams create a barrier which blocks water from running off your roof and instead soaks into the shingles of your roof. With time, water will then seep into the insulation, ceilings and exterior walls. This will ruin your home’s interior walls and paint.

Ice dams can break free from the roof and rip off shingles and gutters. Falling ice dams can damage any surrounding items, including window sills, shrubs, pets, cars and people. Moisture from the melted ice can also create mildew, which must be treated immediately.

How to Tackle Ice Dams

Use a blunt mallet, or other non sharp tool, to break the ice dam free in small chunks. Tap the mallet lightly onto the ice. Beware, pieces of ice might take parts of shingles with them. If you prefer, you can hire a professional to remove the ice dams from your roof.

Melt the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter to create a trough. Do not use rock salt, as it will damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave and wherever the salty water drains. You can use a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of panty hose) to make a trough. Fill the cloth with calcium chloride, tie the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. It will slowly melt down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow free.

For preventative measures, remove snow from the roof with a plastic shovel, snow rake, or even a broom. Do this while standing below or on a ladder, not while standing on the roof. Again, removing snow from your roof can be dangerous, so use extreme caution or hire a roofing professional.

Contact Carl’s Today for Your Roofing Needs

Carl’s has over 30 years of experience in home improvements and roofing installations. Let our professionals inspect your roof and safely remove your ice dams for you. Contact us  today!

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