Coeur d'Alene area residents are
seeing a bumper crop of ice dams right now.
We've had the "perfect storm" of weather conditions - deep snow and extended bitter freezing temperatures - to make for some very impressive ice dams and icicles on the eaves of roofs all over town.
Ice dams occur when thick ice forms on the eaves and roof edges and prevents melting snow from draining. This occurs because the eaves that overhang the roof don't have insulation beneath them. When the heat rises inside the house, the warm air warms the roof above and begins to melt snow on the roof. As this melted snow drains down the roof, it reaches the eaves which are unwarmed and it freezes again. This refreezing of the runoff continues to build up and creates the ice dam.
These ice dams can cause real problems. The draining water pools behind the dam and works its way under shingles and roofing causing damage to roofs, ceilings, walls and other areas. Repairs can be very costly.
So what do you do
to get rid of them?
First, resist any thoughts you have of climbing onto the roof to remove the snow. This is too dangerous.
Remove as much of the snow from the roof as you can using a long handled roof rake. You can find a roof rake at most home improvement stores, but a long handled garden rake works just fine if the roof rakes are sold out!
There are products on the market that can help. One remedy is to fill a pantyhose stocking with sodium chloride. Lay the stuffed pantyhose on the roof perpendicular to the gutter so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. The calcium chloride will melt the ice and will create a channel for water to flow down the gutter.
Keep in mind, your downspouts
are probably clogged as well.
To clear ice from your downspouts, fill a pitcher with hot water from the tap. Pour the water in the top of the gutter until it's full. Pour more hot water on the exterior of one side of the downspout to create a small channel inside the pipe for the water from the top to start running down. Usually, this will only take 1-2 gallons of hot water dribbled down the exterior to thaw enough for the interior channel to start flow. Finally, add more hot water from the top of the gutter to melt the rest. Always make sure downspouts are extended away from the foundation for proper drainage.
The experts recommend against
trying to chip and hack away at the ice dams.
You will risk doing damage to your roof and gutters. Professional roofers may be able to remove your ice dams, but you'll have to take a number. They are VERY busy right now!