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Tips for taking care of ice dams
First things first, put away those ice picks and shovels.
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If you live in a colder climate, chances are you’ve seen them: ice dams. In fact, whenever you’ve admired beautiful icicles along the side of a building, you’re actually looking at a roof leak waiting to happen. When ice accumulates on the eaves or in the rain gutters of a home, it’s just a matter of time until your roof develops a leak. That’s because melting snow can’t run off your roof. Eventually it backs up and gets beneath your shingles. If you’ve spotted the tell-tale signs of ice dams forming on your roof, don’t hesitate to take care of them. Here are a few tips for getting rid of them.
Don’t hack away at them
First things first, put away those ice picks and shovels. Though it may seem like the fastest way to get rid of ice blockages, it certainly isn’t the smartest way. You can damage your rain gutter system and fascia by hacking away at ice dams. You can also cause premature granule loss if you have an asphalt shingle roof which will shorten the life of your roof. In short, you’ll do more harm than good if you try to remove ice dams in this way.
Though it takes a little longer, the best way to get rid of ice dams is to melt them. You can use an ice melt product or hot water to slowly dissolve the ice dam. Don’t use salt as it can stain your roof. However you do it, don’t work from on top of your roof. Climbing up on your roof always involves some risk but it’s much more dangerous in the winter when your roof might be slick. Use a ladder and slowly work your way around the house. It will take longer but you’ll be glad you did it that way.
Long term solution
If ice dams are a recurring problem for your roof, you might be tempted to blame the cold. In actuality, it’s warmth that’s the problem. Specifically, warmth from your home. If you’re noticing ice dams forming on your roof, and especially when it’s not happening to your neighbors, it’s a sign that your attic insulation is to blame. The warm air inside your home is escaping into the attic space where it heats the underside of your roof and melts the snow there. Ice dams form when snow melts on your roof and refreezes at the edges. To prevent the snow on your roof from melting before it’s warm enough outside to prevent ice dams, you’ll want to improve the insulation in your attic, otherwise you’ll spend a good portion of the winter outside melting ice dams.
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