Avoiding ice dams (and showers indoors)
When you’ve got kids, there are certain comments you just don’t want to hear.
“Daddy, the cat peed on your workbench.”
“We all traded hats in school today! How come my head itches?”
And then I'll never forget this one: “Daddy, Daddy, it’s raining in the family room!”
When I heard that, I rushed downstairs to discover my children frolicking about as a steady shower sprinkled downward from the ceiling beams. What fun!
It was on that unseasonably warm March morning when the term “ice dam” entered my vocabulary.
Looking out our family room window, I could see portions of the ice dam – a solid layer of ice and icicles encrusting the rain gutter along the edge of the roof.
The rapidly melting snow running down the roof was blocked by this dam, and the water began creeping its way back up the roof, seeping under the shingles and dripping through cracks and holes in the roof covering.
Meanwhile, inside our house, the ceiling had become so sodden that it began to shower indoors.
Three factors contributed to this predicament:
Insulation and structural issues: We had warm air in the attic, largely due to improper insulation, and the lack of ridge and soffit vents. This warm air heated the underside of the roof, increasing the rate of melting snow on top. So, uh, it was the house’s fault!
Clogged gutters: Okay, this one’s on me. I was lazy and didn’t clean my gutters the preceding fall.
Snow buildup: If I had removed about 3 to 5 feet snow feet from edge of the roof, that would have reduced or even eliminated the ice dam(age). Hindsight is 20-20.
Maybe there were other causes, but those seemed to be the big ones.
By the time I figured all of this out, the “rain inside” was starting to get out of hand. When your kids have to wear raincoats and boots just to watch TV, you know you’ve got a problem.
I had to act quickly. Using a hastily purchased roof rake, I pulled enough snow off the roof to bring the indoor showers to a virtual halt.
Then came the arduous work of cleaning everything up, and addressing the lack of insulation and venting.
Ever since then, I’ve religiously cleaned my gutters in the fall, and have used my roof rake to remove snow from the roof throughout the winter.
No more ice dams.
I guess that’s water under the, um, bridge.