Many homeowners are all too familiar with ice dams. These are thick accumulations of ice that form over the eaves of a house. Water then collects behind the dam and gradually works its way beneath roof shingles through a cycle of freezing and thawing. The result can be leakage into the living areas of the home, which in turn can produce sagging plaster, stains, and other damage. Low pitched roofs are the most likely to be affected, but the problem can occur on many roof styles.
If you are plagued with ice dams despite keeping your attic insulated and ventilated, consider a snow rake. Use the rake to remove snow buildup from the lower 3 or 4 feet of your roof, so that melting snow can drain off before ice dams have a chance to build up. Snow rakes are typically fitted with a 2-foot-wide blade that’s perpendicular to the handle. The handle may be telescoping or extendable with snap-on sections. Better models have wheels that protect roof shingles as you push and pull the rake. Handle lengths range from 15 to 22 feet.
If you are too late in preventing an ice dam, and it’s beginning to back up and leak inside your home, it’s usually best to call a pro. Some homeowners, however, have had success tossing a pair of calcium chloride-filled pantyhose across the dam at 6-foot intervals. Ice melt tablets formulated for roofs may also be effective, depending upon temperature and your ability to safely place them near the ice dam.
The Home Examiner, a home inspection company.