Preventing Ice Damming

Preventing ice damming with these helpful tips. Icicles hanging along the eaves of a roof may be prettier than store-bought twinkle lights, but these sparkling natural beauties are a symptom of a major home ailment.

| December 2003/January 2004

  • Preventing ice damming is easy with these helpful tips.
    Preventing ice damming is easy with these helpful tips.
    Illustration by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • Preventing ice damming is easy with these helpful tips.

Learn about preventing ice damming to keep damage to your home at a minimum.

Preventing Ice Damming

Find and fix this costly energy thief.

Icicles hanging along the eaves of a roof may be prettier than store-bought twinkle lights, but these sparkling natural beauties are a symptom of a major home ailment.

Icicles form when snow accumulates on the roof, melts and then refreezes at the roof's edge. This ice build-up is called "ice damming." Although the icicles themselves are harmless, the build-up prevents melting snow and ice from draining into gutters and off your roof. The blocked water can work under your roofing and into your home.

Once inside, water causes a host of problems you can and can't see. Some of the easiest problems to fix include gutters sagging from the weight of the ice, stained or Baggy ceilings, and loose roof shingles.

But the most serious problems are the ones you can't see. Water dampens and compresses wall and attic insulation, lowering R-values and increasing heating costs. Even small amounts of moisture feed nasty mold and mildew growths that can affect your health and lead to major structural damage in your house.

12/13/2007 11:11:07 AM

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12/11/2007 5:46:15 PM

"...icicles themselves are harmless..." Far from true. Even from 5-10 feet up, a falling icicle can cause serious injury. And consider my office: a 2.5 story 1920s brick duplex in Denver -- ice damming causes icicles over the rear entryway some 20 feet up. A 1 or 2 pound falling icicle from there could cause serious injury or even death. We have to know them down in the morning, until we can find out why the new anti-ice-dam gutters are failing.


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