Removing ice dams

Old 02-11-04, 05:40 AM
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Removing ice dams

I live in Minnesota, and recently purchased an older (1950's) 1.5-story home. It's cozy, but needs alot of work. I noticed the other day that huge ice dams have formed in the gutters, and are probably causing damage - if not now, definately later when they melt and the water comes into the house. I know the underlying problem is poor attic insulation / venting, but how can I safely remove the 6" of ice before it has a chance to melt? And, can I buy some sort of electrical heat gadget to keep the water flowing next year? Should I remove gutters? Help!!
Old 02-11-04, 02:03 PM
Ed Imeduc's Avatar
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Well for now you could use a heat gun on it. it would be in tools Down the line look up the Chromalox Thermwire Melt its made just for what you want to do you can zigzag in on the lower part of the roof and down in the gutter its a melting cable ED
Old 02-12-04, 08:25 AM
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Hi JClark,

Like you, I have an older home (built 1949), no ventilation to speak of, a location where snow is common (Montreal), and perennial problems with ice-damming. I've tried heating wires in different configurations, but they work erratically, and leaks still happened. For several years, I cleared off the snow in the valleys and eaves after each snow-storm, but as you can imagine the novelty of this wears off pretty quickly. If I didn't get out in time, the ice dams would form and the only way to get rid of them was to chip them off. I tried Ed's solution, but it takes a lot of heat to melt the ice, and I just did not find it to be a practical solution. I removed the gutters and this helped, but ice dams still formed. Finally, I solved the basic problem by building a second deck above the first, creating a good airspace, put in soffit and ridge vents, and used aluminum shingles (to get the snow to slide off instead of accumulating). After all this (and it wasn't a cheap solution!!) I have a roof that works. I admire the icicles on my neighbours' homes and get my exercise by going to the gym, not up the ladder.
Old 02-13-04, 07:20 AM
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You can salt the ice. Chip in some grooves and fill w/salt. Come back the next day (in the afternoon) and see if the ice dams have softened enough to break off. PS. the salt is not good for landscaped plants on the ground. Another way is to jam some rods (rebar, ski poles, etc) into the snowpack and drape heat cable around the poles in a zig-zag manner. As the snow and ice melts, the wires will slide down the poles until it reaches the roofing material. This can take a day or two for big ice dams.

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