What is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam develops on the edge of your roof, however they can form elsewhere depending on slope and style of the roof. Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house, are they confined around the gutters? If so, and there is no water trapped behind them- you most likely will not find an ice dam. Regardless, icicles are a precursor to ice dams. Icicles also pose a danger, because they can fall off the roof, so you should remove them. Check for water stains or moisture in your attic and alone the ceiling and exterior walls. Water stains are a clear indicator that an ice dam has formed and water has breached the roof membrane.
How Do You Remove It?
It is critical that once you find an ice dam to remove it. This will prevent further damage to your home. One way to remove the ice dam is to melt it using calcium chloride ice melt. Using a roof rake, remove the snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof. When you do this be careful not to damage the roof covering or to block walking paths and emergency exits. Using a calcium chloride ice melt, which you can purchase from your local hardware store, be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride- which can damage your roof. Next, fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt. Safely place the socking vertically across the ice dam, so it can melt a tunnel through the dam. Make sure to cover any shrubbery or plants with a lightweight tarp near the gutter or downspouts for the duration that the stocking remains in place. The calcium chloride water that drips from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants. Remember to that using a ladder in icy conditions is dangerous, and if you cannot safely reach the roof, call a contractor.
Thank you to Travelers for the original information.
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