It’s Ice Dam Season

If you reside in the Midwest or anywhere else that receives a lot of snow, you either already know about or have experienced the damaging effects that ice dams can cause to your home. If you find yourself with damage from ice dam’s, contact Precision Roofing to repair your damaged roof.

Following are some facts about how ice dams form, as well as one remedial method to help prevent your home from being damaged from the effects of an ice dam.  Although this method may or may not work, remember that its best, and safest, to contact a professional roofing contractor to inspect and remedy ice damming.

Ice-Dam

How An Ice Dam Forms

Ice dams are created when either heat from the sun, or heat loss due to inefficient attic insulation and ventilation causes the snow on your roof to melt and the gutters clog up with ice when water runoff re-freezes.

When further runoff from the roof gets trapped, it builds up in the gutter and the ice begins to grow higher as it re-freezes by coming in contact with the existing ice.  As the build-up of ice grows thicker it travels up your roof, thereby creating the large ice dam.  This dam leaves the water with no place to escape so water runoff backs up the roof behind the ice dam.  As the water backs up the roof it seeps under the shingles and ultimately leaks into the house.  Even on roofs with no gutter, ice dams will accumulate when runoff hits the colder roof eve directly above the soffit.

Is There A Permanent Fix?

While a permanent fix for ice dams may entail any number of measures that include increasing the attic insulation, installing ice and water shield, and improving attic ventilation, these remedial measures are often not feasible until warmer weather conditions return.
Although it is also possible to chip away the ice dam to eliminate the water build-up, not only can this be very dangerous and time consuming, but inevitably the ice dam will return with further melting and water runoff. Further, chipping away ice dams will likely result in damage to the shingles and additional leaking issues in the future. However, there is a simple way to minimize the damage caused by an ice dam — A salt sock.

Implementing A Salt Sock

A salt sock is an effective method to use that will literally melt a channel through the ice dam so water can escape.  Although this doesn’t guarantee that any existing leaking will stop, it will aid in diminishing the extent of any leak, including the increase in the size of an ice dam.

Salt-Sock

What you will need is a pair of panty hose.  Either a new or discarded pair will work just fine.  You will also need to purchase some calcium chloride pellets from your local hardware or convenience store.

  1. Cut off one of the legs and fill it with  calcium chloride de-icing pellets. *(See end-note)
  2. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter or roof edge as shown in the illustration.

 

How To Install The Ice Sock

To install the salt sock there are many methods you can use depending upon the style of your home.

Single Story Homes
On single story homes you may use a long-handled garden rake or shovel to push the salt sock into position.

Multi-Story Homes
On a multi-story home where only a ladder makes this task possible I strongly recommend that you call a professional roofer to perform the installation of the salt sock.  However, even on multi-story homes some times it’s possible for a home owner to drape the salt-sock over the ice dam from a bedroom window, but extreme caution should be used and I would recommend against it due to the risk of falling out the window!  A small investment to a local roofing company will eliminate the risk of great bodily harm or even death.

How The Ice Sock Works

Once you have strategically placed the salt-sock over the ice dam, the calcium chloride will begin to melt through the ice dam and create a channel for water to flow down and off of the roof.  Again, this salt sock is only a temporary fix and it is recommended that you contact a local roofing contractor to remedy the problem permanently.

*Calcium or magnesium chloride pellets are less harsh on shingles and stain less than sodium chloride.