Ice Dam It!


Enjoying the snow – unaware of our mounting problem.

I love the winter. I love the snow. I even embrace the cold because despite the coldest of winters it always warms up. I live in New England. This is our weather. It is the basis for our famous salty Yankee dispositions and there is no other place I’d rather live. We had a late start with the snow this winter but February has been one of the snowiest on record. At first I was thrilled. The snow is beautiful.  We’ve hung out with neighbors. We’ve gone skiing, sledding, driveway snowboarding and snowshoeing. We’ve built snowmen and snow forts and taken some great photos. We even took beautiful photos of the icicles, shining like jewelry, on our house. That’s when we noticed the ice dams and suddenly I had a new opinion of winter.

Ice dams are no joke and can cause serious damage. The ice builds up in the gutter and edge of the roof and then its little icy fingers lift up your slumbering roof shingles and the ice pushes its way into your home. The ice melts into water and reveals itself in the worst of ways, creating dark wet circles in your ceiling or dripping down a wall.

Our ice dams were growing, more snow was predicted and the temperatures were still frigid. In all of my snow glow, I had overlooked preventative measures to remove the snow from the roof edges: dam it!

Notice the nylon stockings filled with ice melt - it works!

Notice the nylon stockings filled with ice melt – it works!

Eventually I was able to push off some of the snow by leaning out the dormer windows where I was able to get an up close view of the glacier in our gutters. My husband tackled the back by climbing out our bedroom window onto the one story roof above our family room and working on the back dormer of our cape. He has spent hours chiseling the ice off our roof edge and out of the gutters. HOURS. It is a painfully slow process only to look at the roof the next morning and see that it has grown back.

A clean gutter!

A clean gutter!

We’ve been chiseling and shoveling for days  and have made some progress. We did spring one leak in the corner of our kitchen but we’ve got that under control now. No other water spots have revealed themselves on our ceilings: yet. I hadn’t wanted to climb into the attic to really assess the situation but my curiosity won out. I brought in the step ladder and pushed open the hatch.  I was thrilled upon first glance. Unbelievably there were no wet spots! Hurray! Until I heard the tell tale “drip – drip – drip”. I shimmied into a bay with my knees on the ceiling joists. There, in the soffit edge, was a trough of water. A two inch rise in water level could push it over the header and down our interior walls. I could feel a tightening in my chest cavity. We were in a race against time.  IMG_3862

Our contractor came over and took a peek. “It’s not bad. I think you’re going to be fine. You’ve opened up some spots for it to move out so it should be okay.” Easy for him to say. He left and my husband and I went back to work: shoveling and chiseling. It’s a waiting game and we’re at the mercy of the weather. But “dam it” we’re going to try to beat this.