Ice dams damaging thousands of Tri-State homes

CINCINNATI – The Tri-State has been hammered this winter with near-record amounts of snow. But area residents are now facing a new dilemma: Ice dams.

Ice dams – formed when melting snow on a roof runs off and refreezes into icicles at the edge – can loosen shingles, tear off gutters and cause water to pour into your home. The dams can lead to mildew, sagging and stained ceilings, distorted floors and peeled paint.

"If you see icicles, there's a problem," said Nick Sabino, owner of Deer Park Roofing.

Icicles may look like ornaments left over from Christmas, but they are wreaking havoc to thousands of homes in the Tri-State, Sabino said.

Sharonville resident Betty Stanger said she never really paid attention to a 2-foot long icicle hanging from the side of her house.

"Never gave a thought to it," Stanger said.

But that icicle was just the beginning of an ice dam damaging her home.

Aurora, Ind., resident Betsey McKee said her home was also damaged by the formation of an ice dam.

"I could actually hear (water) pouring across the ceiling," McKee said.

Experts say you'll notice the signs of an ice dam when you start seeing stains forming in the outside corners of rooms. You may also see water draining down walls and pooling on floors.

Sabino said the problem isn’t actually caused by cold temperatures, but rather heat.

"The heat that you lose from the interior of your house warms up the snow on your roof,” he said. “As it melts down your roof, it gets to your gutters typically and refreezes."

The more thawing and refreezing, the greater the damage, he said.

"It's just a dangerous situation. Roofs are not the safest place to be in the summertime, let alone in the wintertime,” Sabino said.

While a permanent fix for ice dams usually requires increasing the insulation, sealing and ventilation in your attic, experts say a temporary solution does exist.

According to ThisOldHouse.com , the fix involves filling the leg of a discarded pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice melter. You then lay the panty hose onto your roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter.

If necessary, experts say you can use a long-handled garden rake or hoe to push it into position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off your roof.

McKee said she treated her ice dam issue by hammering nail holes into her ceiling and placing containers under those holes.

"This keeps the ceiling from absorbing all the water and falling down," she said. "It is easier to patch than to replace."

To prevent an ice dam completely, experts say you should not heat your roof. Instead, keep it cold. This will cause the snow on your roof to dissipate without creating a large amount of melted water.

According to popularmechanics.com , the best way to maintain low roof temperatures is by ensuring there is adequate insulation and sealing gaps that let warm air pass into your attic from your house.

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