Why there’s only one cure for ice dams: the winter problem you can’t slap a bandage on

Icicles forming on the eaves of your home may seem like a festive element of the winter wonderland that surrounds you. Unfortunately, icicles forming can be a red flag that a larger problem lies up on your housetop.


What are ice dams?

Ice dams form through the stack effect, or when hot air from the interior of your home reaches your roof and causes snow sitting on your roof to melt. As this snow starts to melt, water starts to trickle down your roof, but if there is nowhere for the runoff to go, it begins to pool in spots and from blocks of ice, or ice dams. If left unattended these ice dams can cause structural damage to your roof, walls and even your insulation.


How to fix ice dams?

Homeowners should be proactive and stop ice dams before they start. If an ice dam has formed on your roof, there are three steps that you can take to rectify the problem.


  1. The ice blockages, or ice dams, should be broken up into small chunks without damaging the shingles or the roof. This step should never be done with a sharp tool. Instead, use a blunt mallet that will not damage the existing roof.
  2. Clear out all gutters and downspouts to allow water to runoff when snow begins to melt. If gutters or downspouts are damaged, replace them immediately.
  3. Use calcium chloride or another deicing chemical recommended by your insulation expert (not rock salt!) to help melt larger ice dams. Ideally, you should consult with an expert and ask them to help you with eliminating problematic ice dams that have formed on your home’s roof.


Don’t just apply a bandage

Though these three steps are essential, they do not fix the problem overall. If homeowners do not address the source of the problem, they’ll experience ice dams every winter season. As mentioned, ice dams form because of poor insulation and venting in the living space nearest the roof. Consult with your insulation professional to see whether your insulation needs replacement or what are some ways for you to rectify the problem of ice dams.


Call the experts at RetroGreen Energy today to get a consult and find how to gear up your home for the winter season.

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