Ice Dams - Oh My!

Rid Your Home of Ice Dams (Easily)

For many people, icicles bring thoughts of holiday season and crisp, winter air. For knowledgeable homeowners, they conjure images of damaged shingles and costly repair bills. To keep your home free of ice dams, consider the following guide.

Why it’s a Problem

At first, an ice dam might seem like a minor nuisance. If it gets big enough, however, melted water can back up behind it and make its way beneath shingles. After a while, the water can migrate into ceilings and exterior walls, damaging paint and sheetrock. If a large ice dam breaks away from a home, it can pull gutters and shingles with it. It can also damage underlying items, including cars, shrubs and windowsills. If a pet or a person is in the wrong place at the wrong time, serious injury can also occur.

Ice dams are most times the result of INADEQUATE INSULATION in your attic. Check to make sure that all surfaces of the attic have enough insulation. If there are bare spots or thinly insulated surfaces, heat can escape through your rooms into the attic and up to the roof melting the ice which runs down to the gutters and freezes.

How to Eliminate an Ice Dam

First, make sure to clear the area beneath the dam, removing any items that might sustain damage due to falling ice. Next, clear away snow and ice beneath the dam. Once you’ve opened up enough level space, set up your extension ladder. Be sure your shoes are as dry as possible and follow the safety precautions listed on the ladder. Take your time and move slowly, especially if your shoe soles are moist from melted snow.

Once you reach the dam, remove as much ice as you can by breaking it loose in small chunks. Use a blunt mallet instead of an ax or sharp tool, since this can damage shingles and put your life at risk. Again, work slowly so you won’t damage your shingles or risk a fall. Avoid the urge to hurry and try to work with a steady, meticulous pace.

When you’ve removed enough ice, start clearing out your gutters and downspouts. Maintain your slow, steady pace to keep from damaging metal or plastic gutters and spouts. If you need to melt through the ice dam, use a calcium chloride ice melter. Never use any type of salt, since this will damage metals, paint and any plants beneath the dam. You can saturate an old pants leg or roll of cloth with the calcium chloride and lay it across the ice. After a while, it will slowly melt its way through and allow water to start flowing freely.

Remember to take an extra step in protecting your home from winter with a 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty Home Warranty Service Agreement. 2-10 HBW offers the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for homeowners.