As iconic as icicles may be, donning the fronts of holiday cards and mimicked in lights and all kinds of other winter decor, the real ones can mean bad news for your home. Specifically, icicles can be signs of an ice dam. Not necessarily, though. So how do you know if your home’s icicles indicate an ice dam issue and what to do about it, if they do? Stay tuned to find out.
Ingredients for Icicles and Ice Dams
There is not a causal relationship between icicles and ice dams, one way or the other. But where one appears, the other is likely to emerge as well. Essentially, the same mixture that causes icicles can also lead to ice dams. The combination of snow followed by heat and then cold weather causes snow to melt and then freeze. Often, warm air inside your home can melt rooftop snow; as the water submits to gravity’s pull, it encounters the colder eaves, which extend beyond your home’s walls. At that point, the melted snow can refreeze, creating a buildup of ice we refer to as an “ice dam.” While icicles can certainly be signs that an ice dam has been formed, icicles don’t necessarily appear whenever there’s an ice dam.
Problems Caused by Ice Dams
An accumulation of ice and snow, along with temperature fluctuations, create the ideal environment in which ice dams can form. These temporary structures can cause damage to your gutters and roof, but the damage can affect your home’s interior, as well. When the roof is damaged, the melted water can easily affect your attic or ceiling. Peeling paint, wet insulation, and other problems connected to higher moisture levels can result.
Solutions to Ice Dams
If you have a heavy snowfall, you can reduce the chances of an ice dam forming by removing snow from your roof. A roof rake is the best choice for a sloped roof, while the stiff bristles of a push broom will do the job on a flat or nearly flat roof. Especially if your roof is particularly high, you may wish to contact a snow removal professional in your area who has the proper equipment to safely remove snow from your roof.
Prevention of Ice Dams
One way to prevent ice dams from forming is to ensure that your roof and eaves retain approximately the same temperature and that your attic has proper ventilation. You can do this by adding insulation to your attic floor, keeping warm air out of the attic. You can also help achieve that goal by removing any heat sources in the attic and sealing the attic hatch or door with weatherstripping.or a cover. You can also make sure that all ducts exhaust to outside your home, instead of to the attic. Make sure the flashing around the chimney is in good repair, as well, since cracked flashing can allow for hot air to escape and water to get into the space next to the chimney.