Knowledge of ice dam prevention and fixes should be part of every Northern homeowners toolbox. Icicles may look beautiful but its a sure sign of problems with a house.
If you see icing in your roof, you’ll want to take steps to keep the ice from building up (or call your home inspector!). Letting ice dams build up can allow water into your home. Check out these ice damage prevention, tips in Queensbury, Glens Falls, Lake George, Saratoga Springs and Upstate NY.
DEALING WITH EXISTING ICE DAMS
1. Remove the ice dam by breaking it free in small chucks. Do NOT use an ax or other sharp tool! You’ll cut through the shingles. Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet. This is slow, dangerous work, so hire someone experienced at roofing. Even if you do it safely, the chunks of ice can take pieces of shingle with them.
2. Clear out gutters and downspouts. Again, this is ladder work and an easy way to damage either plastic or metal gutters and spouts.
3. Melt troughs through the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter. Do NOT use rock salt! It will damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave and wherever the salty water drains.
A good trough-maker is a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of panty hose works well). Fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. It will slowly melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow free.
PREVENTING ICE DAMS
You can scrape snow from the roof whenever it falls, using a snow rake from below or a broom or plastic shovel from above. BE CAREFUL. The first method can bury you in snow, while the second can send you slipping off the roof. Hire someone who knows how to use a safety line.
You can replace your shingle roof with standing seam or other metal roof. Or you can replace the bottom three feet or so of your shingle roof with a wide metal drip edge. Whatever you do, install a water-repellant membrane under any new roofing.
NOTE: If your roof is not very steep, an ice dam can still form on metal roofing and drip edges.
Not sure if you have sustained ice damage? Call Bill Jones at Accurate Home Inspection at (518) 260-2967 for a comprehensive inspection of your home and property.