Hints & HELP!
Can Mean Problems
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the February
8, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.
snow and more snow. This is something we have gotten away
from in Nebraska for the last several years. With more snow
and cold weather predicted for our area there are more problems
and concerns arising among home owners. The question of
why icicles are appearing on some home while not on others
is very common these days.
icicles hanging from the eaves of your home may be beautiful,
they may also indicate ice dams. Ice dams form when snow
piles high on the roof and the weather stays cold.
these conditions, snow touching the roof often melts. Water
runs down the roof under the snow to the eaves. There, the
roof temperature drops and the water refreezes. As this
ice dam melts, water drips over the eaves and creates icicles.
more snow melts, water flowing along the roof may back up
behind the dam and leak into the attic or sidewalls of the
home, causing damage.
aid for ice dams
snow from the roof a few feet back from the eaves with a
roof rake. You need only remove snow far enough back
so the meltwater does not reach the ice dam.
roof rake has a rectangular piece of aluminum where
the teeth would be on a garden rake, and a handle that extends
to 15 feet. This rake is designed so you can remove the
snow from the ground.
do not need to remove snow completely. A thin layer of
Protects shingles from the roof rake.
Keeps the roof cold enough so no more water flows down
the roof to add to the ice dam ó and
Simply melts away.
not try to break up ice dams. Using picks and axes to
break up ice could damage shingles. Usually, removing the
snow behind the dam as described above will stop both water
damage and ice buildup behind the dam.
icicles hanging from the dam become large, itís OK to remove
them to reduce the weight on the gutters.
you cannot reach the eaves from the ground with a long-handled
roof rake, consider hiring a roofing contractor. They have
the equipment to work on the roof safely.
can you prevent ice dams?
prevent ice dams, make sure your attic stays cold.
for air leaking into the attic. Look around chimneys
and plumbing. Non-expanding foam in a can will plug most
leaks. If air leaks around something hot like a stove pipe,
form a gasket with sheet metal or us fiberglass insulation
that will not burn or melt.
insulation. In Nebraska, the attic should have an insulating
value of R-38 or moreóat least 1 foot of insulation on
the attic floor.
the attic. In older homes, attics should have 1 square foot
vent opening for every 150 square feet of floor, divided
equally between the ridge area and bottom edge of the roof
(eaves). Cold air flows in through vents in the eaves, pushing
warm air up and out vents near the ridge.
removing snow from the roof it is very important to practice
safety. Do not try to do the job yourself if you canít easily
reach the roof from the ground. Enjoy the snow and cold
weather for now as summer will be here before weíre ready.
to Household Hints & HELP