Not Child’s Play
Icicles And Ice DamsMike Calendrillo, Writer
Snow is every child’s dream. The falling flakes mean sledding and snow forts, snowmen and snow angels, cold noses and wet mittens.
For adults, a winter wonderland is more concerning with fears of slippery sidewalks, heavy snow on the roof and damage causing ice dams. As a homeowner, you might wonder if you should clear the snow on the roof or knock the icicles down.
The answer, unfortunately, isn’t cut and dried. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself with an excessively snowy winter.
Stay Informed About Winter’s Mess
The thing to remember is that icicles and ice dams are a direct result of one another. While you won’t always get both, understanding how they form, what to do and how to avoid them can be the key to a less stressful winter, says Rem Brown, senior engineering manager at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
If your home has inadequate insulation, heated air will escape through the roof, melting the snow. The water then begins to run the length of the roof — potentially creeping under shingles and entering the home, causing water damage. Back up on the roof, the melted water gradually begins to freeze, putting pressure on your gutters and even forming dense ice dams capable of trapping pools of water.
The presence of ice dams pushing water inside the home can lead to rotted wood and insulation in the ceiling and attic, increasing the chance of damaged walls, windows and even flooring inside the dwelling.
Be Careful What You Remove
Falling chunks of ice are unpredictable. Never try to remove icicles — they can cause severe bodily injury to you or damage to your home. Hitting ice around the gutters or roof with a metal tool will cause more pressure on those areas, which could cause them to collapse. If snow has begun to pile up on the roof, but has yet to form ice, stay firmly rooted on the ground and use an aluminum snow rake with a telescoping pole to remove the snow on eave edges. Also, pay attention to electrical power wires. Metal rakes and electrical wires make for a shocking combination.
Climbing a sloped surface, even when the weather is nice, can be a recipe for disaster. Leave the roof climbing to a trained professional.
Ways To Counteract Frozen Obstacles
Properly fitting your home to counteract the effects of icicles may sound like a chore, but it's easier than you think.
- Plug any air leaks in your attic with caulk, foam or extra insulation.
- Replace your old attic insulation with blown-in cellulose or fiberglass more than 8 inches thick.
- Install a continuous ridge vent across the peak of the roof to allow for maximum ventilation.
- Install heat tape in a wave-like pattern along the eaves. The tape warms up when plugged into an electrical system and melts the ice.
With a little bit of forward thinking, you and your home can safely make it through the harsh winter months. Once the snow begins to thaw, hire a professional roofing contractor to assess what winter may have left behind.