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Damn! Those Ice Dams!

Yet another storm is hitting New England this week.  Damn those ice dams!  Kevin has been working outside and it’s cold and wet.  Wouldn’t you know it, everyone is asking him, “Why do I have ice dams? And how do I get rid of them?”

What is an ice dam?  Water runs off the roof from under the melting snow.  As soon as the water hits the cold air it freezes creating a dam.  As more water runs down, the dam gets bigger.  Ice dams are usually formed from heat loss due to lack of insulation below your roof.  The heat escapes into your attic or walls and heats the air which melts the roof snow from below.   Another common cause is when the warm bright sun melts the snow yet the temperature is still cold enough to freeze the water.  At this point, you have icicles outside and possible water leaking into your living space.  Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up into your house.  (*note, not all icicles mean you have a water dam).

What do you do?  Warning! DO NOT strip away the first 4 feet of snow off of your roof!  This could potentially cause the ice dams to form further up over your living space.  It is advised that you either leave all of the snow or remove it all.  It is all or none.

To prevent ice dams, you can add more insulate your attic so that the air in the attic remains the same temperature as the air outside.  You can take advantage of programs like Mass Save 1-866-527-SAVE (7283).

Remember:

Things NOT to do:

* Do not climb on your roof when there is ice on it.

* Do not hack away the ice with a hatchet, shovel, or hammer.

* Do not melt ice with a blow torch (Yes, we have seen this)

* Do not use salt.  It will do more harm to your garden soil then your ice.

Remember! DO NOT take the first 4 feet of snow! All or NONE!

Things to DO:

* Pray for spring

* Preventative maintenance; proper insulation, clear gutters and roof debris

* Purchase a roof rake (with wheels) and safely pull off all of the snow.  (If your roof is low enough that you can reach)

Updated: February 18, 2014 — 1:14 am

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