When you were a kid, I bet icicles were the highlight of your winters.
Knocking them off the roof and refreshingly nibbling on them or using them to play impromptu swordfights with other kids in the neighborhood.
Oh, those were the good old days.
Now that you are a homeowning adult, icicles have become less fun and more of a nightmare, especially considering that these glistening, festive-looking spikes of ice could be a sign of trouble.
So, are icicles a sign of an ice dam on your roof? They could be.
What Is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam in a huge mass of ice that collects on the lower edges of a roof or in the gutters. The formation of an ice dam happens in a number of steps, namely:
- Snow accumulates on the roof following a snowfall.
- The heat from the attic warms the surface of the roof, but this heat doesn’t reach the eaves.
- Snow melts on the warm roof surface and flows down to the edges of the roof.
- The melted water refreezes at the cold edges of the roof, initially creating icicles which then develop into a thick layer of ice along the roof’s edge.
- This layer of ice can them become thick enough to be an ice dam.
So, while icicles present on a roof’s edge might be a warning sign, icicles can end up forming even without an ice dam present.
At the same time, ice dams can also form without the presence of large icicles on the roof.
Why Should You Worry About Icicles and Ice Dams?
It all seems pretty harmless, so why are icicles such a huge concern for homeowners?
Well, as roofing Austin tx explains, when an ice dam forms, meltwater from the warm roof could back up behind the dam, therefore forcing it to flow under the shingles thereby, making its way into your home.
When this happens, you will notice a leak in the attic, which can, in turn, lead to the growth of mold, damaged insulation, and structural damage, among other moisture issues.
At the same time, the weight load of ice dams and heavy icicles could be more than the roof has been designed to bear.
If left unchecked, the weight could damage the structural integrity of your roof, causing failures that can result in the roof caving in or gutters falling off.
A large icicle could also come loose and fall off right onto the windscreen of a vehicle parked below, or onto someone walking by, resulting in lacerations and even concussions.
Tell-tale Signs That You Have an Ice Dam
- Formation of large icicles along the roof’s edge. Small icicles are usually harmless.
- Water dripping out of the gutter or soffit.
- Worn or faded shingles along the overhang.
- Seeing ice where it shouldn’t be i.e., on the edges of your roof, behind your gutters or through the soffit.
How to Remove Icicles
You could gently tap small icicles off your roof edge before they get a chance to grow bigger.
The same could also be done for large icicles. However, do this using a wooden stick to extend your reach and never stand directly beneath an ice formation while dislodging the icicle.
If you need to use a ladder, be careful not to prop it against an icy roof or gutter.
How to Deal with Ice Dams
Immediately you notice something’s amiss; you might be tempted to take a chisel or shovel and hack away at the ice dam.
Well, don’t. This approach is not only dangerous for you, but it is harmful to your roofing as well.
Never try walking on your ice- or snow-covered roof.
Instead, if you have a sloped roof, take a long-handled roof rake and use it to pull off snow from the roof. A wheeled rake won’t harm your roof’s surface.
For flat and low-slope roofs, you may use a push broom with stiff bristles.
Avoid using salt or other ice melt products on your roof. These could damage your shingles as well as your plants.
Alternatively, you may also opt to form channels in the ice dams to facilitate water draining. While standing on the ground below, use your garden hose, spray lines of warm water upwards from the roof eaves.
Suppose the ice dam has already caused a leak in your attic, you could blow in cold air using a box fan aimed at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This will freeze the water in its tracks, preventing further seepage.
After that, make sure you keep the attic cold and well ventilated. The colder your attic is, the less melting and refreezing that will take place on your roof.