Ice Dams a Big Problem For Boston Residents

The weather in Boston has been extremely cold this year, but now there is going to be some warmer temperatures coming in this week. So what exactly does this mean for residents? If you have any type of winter-related damages to your home, including excessive snow on your roof or even ice dams, then you could be in trouble. With the temperatures warming up this week, it will cause the snow and ice dams to melt quickly, meaning that this water could then seep into your property by means of cracks between shingles.

Many residents throughout the Boston area have ice dams on their roofs, and although they may look pretty, they are definitely troublesome if they aren’t taken care of. An ice dam is a thick ridge of solid ice that builds up on the sides of your roofing structure along the gutters. In most cases, they cause the water to back up and pour into your home. Obviously when this happens, it causes a lot of water damage to the home: sagging ceilings, soggy insulation, peeling paint, and even can cause the floors to warp. Then, if this isn’t taken care of in a timely manner, it can lead to mold and mildew issues.

Here is a breakdown of just how these large icicles form on your home:

1) First, heat collects in the attic of the home and warms the whole roof except for the eaves (sides).
2) The snow melts on the roof that has been warmed up and then freezes once it reaches the cold sides of the roof.
3) The ice accumulates along the sides, therefore forming an ice dam. The melted ice from the warm roof then backs up behind the ice dam and begins to flow underneath the shingles and into the house.

You, the homeowner, can take care of this issue yourself or you can hire a professional to do so if the issue seems that it is too large for you to tackle on your own.

One way to combat ice dams is by purchasing heated cables at your local hardware store. This solution will allow you to even out the temperature of the roof by heating it from the outside instead of blowing in cold air from the inside. The only thing with heated cables is, is that you have to install them before the heated weather hits.
Something that a lot of homeowners think is a good idea is hacking away at the ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel. This actually isn’t good for your roofing structure at all, it can actually be dangerous for you. Also, just throwing salt on them won’t do any good either. More than likely it will just harm your plants and won’t tackle the ice dam issue.

One thing that you can do that will help fairly quickly is take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where the water is leaking in. This cold air will freeze the water in its tracks, and you will stop the leak in a matter of minutes. Another thing that you can do is pull the snow off of the roof with a long-handle aluminum roof rake while you stand on the ground. A rake with wheels will instantaneously change the temperature of the roofs exterior without damaging the shingles.

Another idea that some people use is using panty hose to diminish the ice dam. You will begin by filling the leg with a calcium chloride ice melting agent. Then, you will lay the hose onto the roof so that it crosses the ice dam and hangs over the gutter. If it is necessary, you can also use a roof rake to push it into the correct position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off of the roof.

You can also stop ice dams before they even occur. You will just have to keep the entire roof the same temperature as the sides. To do this, you will increase ventilation, add insulation, and seal off every air leak that could warm up the underside of the roof.

Here are some steps to take to avoid ice dams at all:

1) Ventilate the sides of the roof and the ridge
2) Cap the attic hatch
3) Exhaust to the outside
4) Add Insulation
5) Install Sealed Lights
6) Bridge the gap between the chimney and house framing
7) Seal and insulate air ducts
8) Caulk any penetrations

If you believe that you cannot tackle the issue of ice dams or snow on your roof by yourself, you can hire a professional service to take care of it for you! Be sure to take care of all of your ice dam and snow issues before the end of this week, as the weather is starting to warm up and that means that the ice and snow will be melting, making flooding and water damage to your property an even bigger threat.

Here is a video that explains how to properly remove an ice dam from your property.

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