Rock Talk

Be wary of ice dams this winter

Last updated on January 4th, 2018 at 12:49 pm

It’s no secret Mother Nature can be relentless during the winter – testing both our will and patience. And as snow starts accumulating, it can cause widespread roofing woes for many residents. So as we remain vigilant in keeping our streets, driveways and sidewalks clear of snow, it’s important to remember the snow sitting on our roofs, too.

Large amounts of stagnant snow on your roof can cause an ice dam. Ice dams occur when that snow melts and then refreezes in the roof overhang, creating a blockage in the gutter and preventing proper drainage. If you notice icicles hanging from your roof, water dripping from the roof overhang, or interior leaks or new stains on your ceilings, it’s likely an ice dam has formed. Ice dams’ damage can be costly, so if you suspect one on your roof, it’s important to address it right away.

Of course, the best way to treat ice dams is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. However, prevention methods are more long term solutions and should be completed before winter’s onset to be most effective.

However, there are some steps you can take during winter to deal with ice dams:

  • Ice dams can only form when there’s snow on your roof. So, after a snowstorm, consider hiring a professional to remove the snow. This is the safest way to remove snow because professionals will have ample experience and proper equipment
  • However, if you wish to remove the snow yourself, remember to:
    • Use a roof rake safely – other tools could damage your shingles
    • Avoid standing underneath icicles or roofs with large amounts of snow
    • Be very careful when climbing ladders because rungs can be slippery with snow and ice on them
    • Don’t use a roof rake near electrical wires
    • Have someone nearby to check on you in case you need help or are injured
  • Create a channel in the ice dam by filling a large sock with calcium chloride and laying it across the dam, perpendicular to the gutter. The sock will gradually release the calcium chloride – a melting agent – and create a channel in the ice for water to flow through. You might need several socks for an ice dam that runs the length of your roof

If it reaches the point that an ice dam has formed and water begins leaking inside your home, collect the dripping water in buckets and pans. Mop up any standing water and remember to move any furniture, clothes and other valuables out of harm’s way. It’s also imperative that you promptly call a professional who can properly remove the ice dam and treat the damage.

You never know how long winter is going to last. So, if and when the next snowstorm hits, consider the snow sitting on your roof just as seriously as what’s piled up in your driveway.

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