Icicles hanging from the gutters may look beautiful, but they are nothing but trouble! The same conditions that allow icicles to form also lead to ice dams. Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves. The conditions that create ice dams are quite simple. Heat collects in the attic and warms the roof, except the gutters. Snow melts on the warm roof and then freezes on the cold gutters. Ice accumulates along the gutters forming a dam. Melted water from the warm roof backs up behind and flows under the shingles and into the house. Ice dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. This can cause peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings and can lead to mold in your attics insulation.
Your initial response may be to get up on your roof with a hammer and start hacking away at it, but that is not what you should do! Taking a hammer, chisel, or even a shovel to it is bad for your roof AND super dangerous for you. Throwing salt on it will do even more harm. Getting rid of ice dams for good is simple, just keep the entire roof to same temperature as the gutters. You do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof. By taking care of common trouble spots, you should enjoy dam-free winters and also save tons of energy.
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Stay Safe, and Stay Warm!