Ice dam, that is...
only one thing to say if you look up at your roof this winter and ice is
blocking the orderly flow of water to the gutters and downspouts.
is a situation you don’t want to ignore. Water takes the easiest way down from
any elevation. On your roof, that means if it can’t get to the ground via the
gutters and downspouts, water will pool and eventually leak into your house.
damage is the more minimal problem. The real issue is wondering if the water
leaked into your house from the roof, and if so, where. Water can seep between
and crack walls, soak into the insulation in your attic and ruin ceilings, or
even travel from the point of entry to the opposite side of the house, depending
on gravity and how level your home is.
had people come in and tell us water is dripping, or pouring, through ceiling
light fixtures,” Mike Frentz says.
two basic ways to stop ice dams from forming.
A roof snow rake is the simplest, most straight-forward way to get the snow off
your roof before it freezes. Mike says this solution works well if you own a
bungalow, because from the ground, you’ll need to hold the rake at close to
the same angle as the roof in order to pull off large amounts of snow.
two-story homes such as colonials, handle extensions for the rake are available
in 5-foot segments. Though your reach onto the roof might not be as great, you
can still clear the edges near the gutters -- one of the two places ice dams
key here is getting out there during or right after the snow is falling, before things start
to freeze,” Mike says.
Roof Snow Rake, comes with a 16-foot handle and
a 7-by-24-inch-blade, both made of aluminum. It’s easy to assemble, light, and
the blade sits at an angle to the handle to improve your reach.
is one of the new generation of snow rakes – it has rollers on the edges of
the blade. Those little wheels, rather than the blade itself, are what come into
contact with your roof. That means the blade rolls over, rather tears off,
If snow rakes aren’t your style, then Wrap-On
Roof and Gutter Cables are the way to
basically, are heavily insulated electrical cables you string horizontally along
your roof, in a zig-zag pattern, just above the gutters.
on the picture below
for a larger image
dams form because your entire roof is not heated. Heated air moves to the
highest point it can, which is at the peak of your house.
means snow and ice starts to melt there. But as gravity takes over and melted
snow starts to run off your roof, it cools because it’s moving away from the
heat source. Since your gutters edge your roof, they are furthest from the heat
source, and the water freezes rather than continuing through the gutters and
says the other most common place for an ice dam to form is in a valley on the
roof. This is where two sections of your roof meet – for instance, the place
where the roofing on a dormer meets the rest of the house.
this cabling up now, before bad weather sets in, is the most important thing.
You can’t install this cable properly when snow and ice are already on the
roof,” Mike says.
the cable will take a little pre-planning, because no matter how long the cable
is, using an extension cord is not recommended. The way to do it is plan
backward – think the installation through from the outlet, rather than just
starting on one area of the roof and worrying about plugging it in later.
says the installation isn’t just a safety issue. It’s also a matter of
economics – you’ll want the plug within easy reach. These cables really
work, and do so by drawing a large amount of electricity. For example, a 40-foot
cable draws 200 watts of power.
once installed, you only want to plug the cable in when you need it, when the
snow is falling on your roof or when the conditions are right for the snow to
melt on the higher sections of your roof. That occurs during the day when the
temps are in the teens to the mid 20's. It’s not something to plug in and
leave on all the time.
people have been upset because they’ve installed the cable, plugged it in, and
gone to Florida for three or four months,” Mike says. “When that happens,
they’ve come home to a $700 or $800 electric bill. But if you just plug it in
when you need it, it’s not at all
expensive to operate.”
a look at the diagram, which comes from the instructions for the type of roof
and gutter cable available at Frentz. It shows the insulated end of the cable at
the end of the downspout and then goes up and down across the roof. The cable
attaches to the shingles with aluminum clips.
handle a roof valley, just run the cable up one side of the valley, down the
other, and then keep moving across the roof.
says the average home is about 25 feet across. There are quick formulas on the
cable boxes to help you calculate the length of a cable you’ll need. He says
their store stocks the cable all year, and not only is it best to install it
before a storm, but after the first storm, and all the television new stories
that go with it, these cables become a real sought after item.
and Sons has them available in the following lengths. That way you can buy just
what you need:
here to buy