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Clairmont Ltd. Advises on Ice Dams – Strategies for Success This Winter

Finally the weather is acting like January.  Cold and snow and plenty of both.  In addition to health risks for some, the large amount of snow, wind and now an imminent thaw brings risks for buildings. The menace in this case is ice dams. These occur when it is warm enough for the snow to melt but cold enough that gutters are still frozen. So where does the snow melt go? Two places: The first, over the edge of your roof and gutters in the form of icicles. The second place is inside your house. Your roof may look snow covered, but underneath, where the snow and the roof shingles meet is a whole different story. It can be quite active with water flowing down the shingles. Then it meets the gutter which is frozen. Just like bridges that freeze when the rest of the road is fine, your gutter; which is designed to hold water, freezes and freezes and freezes until if fills up. What happens next is both intriguing and maddening. As a recent episode of This Old House illustrated; water, when it has pressure behind it of more water pushing it, will flow uphill. It goes under your shingles or under an adjacent wall and flows into your house.

What to do? Short term, purchase a Snow Rake and your local home store. They come with multiple extensions and can reach quite high. Pull the snow off the roof about three feet above the gutter.  Also pull snow off the valleys and pull it away from any walls that meet a lower roof. Long term? When the gutters are empty, install gutter cable and leave it there year around. Gutter cable is a heated wire that you lay in the gutter and run down the downspout. The day before a thaw, plug them in. It will keep the gutter flowing and allow the roof to drain properly.

The best feature about a snow rake is you do not have to go up on the roof.  In fact let me state:  when your roof has snow or ice on it, DO NOT go on the roof.  One last word of caution:  when using your snow rake, keep away from power lines!

For more information, do a search for each product in YouTube.  They will illustrate the use of both snow rakes and gutter cable. We use the Frost King Gutter cables for our customers and at my own house.

Image Courtesy of RoofRake