Stop Ice Dams Before They Form

Time: 4 hours

Snow-capped roofs bordered with picturesque icicles might sound like a winter wonderland, but there’s probably a pool of water lurking behind. This cold combination (read: ice dam) will rip off your gutters and send water through your shingles. NOT cool. Here’s how to stop ice dams before they form.

(Show Me How)

What's in it for you?

  • Extend your roof’s lifespan
  • Stop roof leaks
  • Lower likelihood of falling objects

Stop Ice Dams Before They Form

  1. Clean your gutters. Grab a ladder and climb up to your gutters. (Don’t forget gloves and garden trowel — or a friend, for safety.) Scoop out all the muck that could freeze — we’re looking at you leaves, twigs and dirt.

  2. Check your downspouts. While you’re up on that ladder, dump a bucket of water in your gutters. Does it back up? Your downspouts are likely clogged. No worries. Use a plumber’s snake (that coiled wire thing with a clog-busting spring and plastic drum on the end) to break up the clog. Flush out what’s left with a handy-dandy garden hose. That’s it — time to climb back down.

  3. Keep snow at bay with a roof rake. Don’t go tromping around on an ice-covered roof. Stay safe this holiday season and use a roof rake instead. Your local hardware store will have these oversized gardening hoes with extendable handles. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, extend the handle and “rake” your roof. Start from the edge and work your way to the center, skipping an inch or two around the edges to avoid scraping your shingles with the roof rake. Beware of power lines, ice, and debris, as these can derail your plans for safety. Bonus points: Raking after big snowfalls takes stress off your roof and rafters.

  4. Ventilate your attic by adding soffit vents. Rising warm air collects in the attic and melts all the snow on your roof. Guess what happens when the cold air hits the water — it freezes, forming ice dams. Not cool. Installing vents in the underside of the soffit will bring in some much needed cool air and push out warm attic air that’s collected over time (don’t worry, insulation will keep this from affecting the temperature of your living area). Skip all the math and install about one 8” x 16” vent in every other rafter space. You might get a little extra ventilation depending on the shape of your roof, but more is better in this case.

Pro Tip: Check attic insulation to keep warm air in your living spaces and away from your roof (where it can melt snow).

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