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Winter Weather Response

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Winter Weather Response

Being a homeowner during the winter can be stressful. Focusing on maintaining heat and energy with the Iowa weather outside while dealing with snow removal can be stressful. Unfortunately, there is lots more to be aware of and proactive when it comes to preserving your home’s functionality, safety, and appeal.

Roof leaks and ice dams are very common in Iowa, especially during the winter and on older homes. Although the icicles that hang off the roof of your home may seem aesthetically pleasing, and remind you of an icey, wintery wonderland, they can be highly dangerous. Not only for patrons passing under the icicles, but also for your home’s structure. These icicles form in situations where the heat in your home is not being released properly.

These icicles are called ice dams. They can weigh down and tear off gutters, loosen shingles and cause water back-up. Water back-up can be as harmful as paint chipping and watermarks  to sagging ceilings and warped floors. Below is an image explaining this process.

 

 
How to get Rid of Ice Dams:

After ice dams are formed, not all hope is lost. You can still get rid of them with a few easy methods. However do not hack at the ice with a hammer or chisel. Doing so can damage your roof and gutters. Additionally, one should not throw salt on top of the ice. This can be harmful to plants and other landscaping from the ‘flood’ of salted, water run-off.

  1. One way to get rid of ice dams in a quick and efficient way is by aiming a heater in your attic towards the lower area of your roof. This however, if the heat is not distributed evenly, could increase your risks of water back-up and roof leaks. In this scenario, blowing cold air would be beneficial with the goal of freezing it all to prevent any water sinking through the roof.
  2. Utilizing a rake or shovel to pull off as much snow from the roof as possible is also a feasible option. This will prevent snow from melting and building up the ice dam and will change the exterior temperature of your roof allowing more of the ice dam to melt.
  3. Another method that is less work intensive is filling a stocking with calcium Chloride ice-melter and putting it towards the edge of the roof to generate the melting of ice.

 

 
Prevention:

There are a couple methods of attack that are used to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.

  1. Heated Cables are a great way to eliminate ice dams. Heated Cables are strung across the edge of one’s roof in a zig-zag pattern and assist in equalizing the temperature of the house’s roof. By equalizing the roof’s temperature, it allows all the water/snow to melt down and roll into gutters at a consistent pace. This is a long-term solution that should be installed prior to the cold weather hitting Iowa.
  2. Make sure your home is energy efficient:
  • Ventilate the eaves and ridges of a home by having continuous soffit vents in order to better circulate cold air.
  • Cover unsealed attic hatches with weather-stripped caps to keep the home’s heat inside.
  • Ensure that all ducts lead to the outside through the roof or walls but never through the soffit.
  • Add attic insulation.
  • Add flashing around your chimney to minimize small gaps that heat can escape the house.

Maintenance:

To maintain a home’s ice dam prevention, get an energy consultation every 6-15 years. These consultations can determine where energy is escaping your home and what to do to fix those problem areas. If one has the heated cables in place, checking their productivity every 3-6 is vital to ensure they are still working properly.

 

References:

(2022). How to get rid of Ice dams, This old House. Retrieved from https://www.thisoldhouse.com/roofing/21017660/how-to-get-rid-of-ice-dams.New Paragraph

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