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Ice Dams: Sock It To ‘Em1


Those icicles on the roof sparkling in the winter sun may look pretty, but they’re actually an indicator of something pretty ugly – ice dams. Ice dams are buildups of ice along the eaves of the roof. Dams form when the roof warms up enough to melt the snow but the edges of the roof remain cold enough to freeze the runoff into icicles. When the runoff reaches the frozen edge, water builds up behind and freezes creating a dam.

Ice dams can lead to rotted rafters, ruined insulation, moisture inside walls, and indoor leaks.  The good news:  there’s a relatively simple solution for breaking up ice dams. Make yourself some ice melt socks.

Take a pair of stockings (or knee highs) and cut off the legs at about knee level. Fill the “socks” with calcium chloride ice melt pellets then tie off the upper ends and you’re done. Calcium chloride pellets are a more effective ice melter than rock salt (sodium chloride). It melts faster and works well even at extremely low temperatures.

To use the ice melt socks, first remove as much snow as you can from your roof. Then arrange the socks so they cross the dams and rest in the gutters. It’s an inexpensive way to remove those damaging ice dams that can result in major household repairs.

text and photos by Ann D. Travers

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Comments / Discussion

  1. Richard
    Can an ice dam or icicles be an indicator of poor insulation in the roof or of something else going on? I notice not all of the houses in my neighborhood have icicles. Thanks
    February 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
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