Don’t be fooled by the beautiful icicles accenting your roof—these glistening daggers are a red flag for property damage. Icicles are indicative of ice dams forming on your roof’s eaves.
What’s an ice dam? A solid ridge of ice that has formed from melted snow at the edge of your home’s roof, typically as a result of heat collecting in the attic and warming all parts of the roof except the eaves. These frozen puddles can wreak havoc on homes and cost a fortune in repairs.
On the exterior, gutters can clog up with ice and become cracked and torn. With nowhere to go, water runoff can then get trapped by the dam and back up onto the roof, forcing the runoff to travel under shingles and cause them to loosen.
The damage isn’t limited to a home’s exterior. Destruction will continue indoors if water leaks into the house. If the latter happens, you can have even bigger problems: peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings, and soggy attic insulation, aka a mold magnet.
Long term fixes for ice dams include increasing the insulation, sealing, and ventilation in the attic. In the meantime, here are some simple ways to diminish the damage if you spot a dam forming:
Blow in cold air
Take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This targeted dose of cold air will freeze the water in its tracks.
Pull off snow with a long-handled aluminum roof rake (above) while you stand safely on the ground. A rake with wheels won’t harm the roofing.
Take a shovel, hammer, or any other type of apparatus to the ice dam – this is dangerous for the roof and yourself.
Throw salt on the dam – this will do more harm to your plantings than the ice.
(This idea originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author // Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk.)