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12 Strategies for Combating Ice Dams



  ice ponds Icicles hanging on rooftops always give a beautiful winter picture. But if these icicles are hanging on your roof, it is nothing to take lightly. Why? Because the same conditions that formed the icicles are due to ice ponds. And it can be a costly problem.

What are ice ponds and what causes them?

Ice ponds are ice ridges that form along the roof. The heat from the wind warms the roof and melts the snow. However, since there is not much heat collected in the attic at the eaves, the eaves are much colder. So when the meltwater flows, it freezes again at the eaves, builds up and creates an ice pond.

Four basic factors can cause ice ponds to form:

  1. Heat from the wind . Too little insulation or ventilation in the attic is a common culprit. There are also common areas where hot air can come out in the attic such as poorly insulated outlets, fixtures and attic doors.
  2. Ideal temperatures . Temperatures between 30 and 32 are perfect for ice ponds. At that temperature, it does not take much heat from inside a home to push the temperature of the roof over the freezing mark and begin the melting process.
  3. Changing temperatures . Even if the daytime temperature is slightly above freezing but fluctuates sufficiently to be well below freezing at night, ice ponds can form. As long as thawing can take place during the day, ice ponds can form.
  4. Solen . Even when the temperature is below freezing day and night, radiant heat from the sun can continue to melt snow on your roof and contribute to ice ponds.

What damage can ice ponds cause?

When an ice pond becomes large enough, meltwater can no longer flow into the gutters or on the ground. Instead, it backs up and can run under shingles and into the house. And it can get messy, cause stained and suspended ceilings, peel paint, skewed floors and damp insulation on the attic and walls that can collect mold. If the ice pond breaks, it can even pull off shingles and gutters.

What can you do with ice ponds?

If you already have ice ponds, you can try melting a trough through the ice with calcium chloride ice melters in a fabric tube (like a pantyhose leg) over the ice pond. Just do not hack your ice ponds with a hammer, chisel or shovel. You can seriously damage your roof and injure yourself.

It is obviously better to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. Here are a dozen strategies to keep in mind:

  1. Keep snow away from the roof with a snow string, broom or plastic shovel.
  2. Replace the roof with a standing seam or other metal roof.
  3. Replace the three lower feet on your single roof with a wide metal drip edge.
  4. Seal each point where hot air can leak from the living space to the attic.
  5. Insulate your living space properly to prevent conduction and heat convection through the roof.
  6. Make sure you have proper ridge and soffit valves to circulate cold air under the roof.
  7. Seal wind shutters with suitable weather stripping.
  8. Make sure that all ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom and dryer openings lead either the ceiling or the walls outdoors, never through the sofa.
  9. Add more insulation to the attic floor.
  10. Replace older recessed lamps that emit heat with sealed "IC" luminaires.
  11. Apply fiber-reinforced sealant to joints of HVAC and exhaust ducts.
  12. Switch off your thermostat, which reduces the heat to the wind.

It is also a good idea to have a home audit to reveal your home's unique problem areas. With that information, you can plan your strategy to prevent ice ponds from becoming a costly headache.

Need more winter tips to protect your home? Talk to the personnel insurance staff at BNC Agency today.


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