Monthly Archives: January 2017

DAM ICE

To be clear, we do not condone profanity in this space. But I’m not above employing lame puns. A topic for any winter once the snow piles up is ice damming. You see all that snow on your roof? It’s fine where it sits unless it’s the spot where the roof meets the gutters.

When it’s liquid, water just follows gravity: off the roof, through the gutter, down the down spout. Solid water accumulates in the gutters and along the roof edges. The freeze-thaw cycle gets involved. It partners with warm air escaping from the building. And suddenly, you have a ridge of ice.

Would that it would stay that way. But the building heat and the weight on top reduce the bottom layer to liquid. This water has to go somewhere, so it will work its way up under the shingles and in through the soffits.

Voila! You have an indoor water feature on your wall or around your window.

There are short term and long term strategies for remediation. The common denominator with the short term is to rid the roof of the ice. Recommendations run the gamut, from shoveling to chipping to melting (ice melt wrapped in socks or pantyhose—I’m not kidding about this). The problem is, it can snow more than once in a winter. Then back to square one, with a lighter wallet.

A primary cause of ice damming is inadequate insulation. Warm air and cold air just shouldn’t be talking to each other. In the warm months, consider an energy audit and insulation upgrade. Doubtful it will offer a 100% fix. But in winter, in Minnesota, we seek manageability, not perfection.

Water is best in bath tubs and tea kettles, while ice belongs in a glass with a beverage (or under your skates). Wishing you a minimum of departure from these locations.