This winter, take special note of any icicles hanging from your roof. Small icicles are normal, but large, thick icicles can be dangerous if they fall and usually spell trouble for your home. Fortunately, most problems that cause icicles can be remedied easily.
Icicles typically indicate ice damming on your home’s roof, a problem usually caused by insufficient or missing insulation and ventilation in your attic and between your house and your attic. During the winter, this warms the roof, causing snow to melt more rapidly and move down the roof to the overhang, where it refreezes in the form of icicles. It can also cause an ice dam to form, which eventually pushes the water up under the roof’s shingles. This damages the roof and gutters, and it can lead to water intrusion causing leaks in ceilings or walls, or soaking insulation, which would make it ineffective. As if those problems weren’t bad enough, ice dams can cause structural decay and rot to your house, or cause mold and mildew to form in your attic and on wall surfaces.
Try the following remedies to reduce or eliminate ice damming and the damage it causes:
- Seal all holes or gaps connecting your heated living space and your attic.
- Ensure that the attic is properly insulated.
- Attached with clips along the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern, heated cables prevent ice dams, allowing you to equalize your roof’s temperature by heating it from the outside instead of blowing in cold air from the outside.
- Use an aluminum roof rake to pull snow off of your roof.
- Install a ridge vent and continuous soffit vents to circulate cold air under the entire roof.
- Make sure that ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls — never through the soffit.
- Seal gaps between chimneys and the house framing with L-shaped steel flashing held in place with unbroken beads of a fire-stop sealant.
- DO NOT attack an ice dam with a hammer or other tool to chop it up, as you could cause further damage to your roof. If necessary, contact a roofing company to steam the ice dam off.