Sure, icicles are pretty. And as kids it was fun to use icicles as swords or find the biggest one to see how heavy it was and show all our friends. But now that we’re the ones paying for roof repairs, icicles have lost their magical appeal. Icicles are a sign of poor drainage on your roof, possibly creating major issues such as an ice dam. Take note: you can still have an ice dam on your roof without the presence of icicles.
Factors such as the direction your home faces, the pitch and angles of your roof, and areas where it remains shady for a good part of the day can affect how the snow melts off your roof in the wintertime. The warmth from inside your home can seep out of the roof, which makes the snow melt and drip. You want the snow to melt and fall off your roof, but sometimes this doesn’t happen, and the water gets stuck at the eaves and refreezes. An ice dam forms creating a run-off and refreeze cycle that can cause damage to your shingles, gutters, and even inside your home.
If you see icicles forming, respond quickly. You can tap small icicles off your roof before they get too big but be gentle as to not cause more damage. Damage to your roof is an inconvenience, but a personal injury from falling icicles is far worse. Additionally, if you use a ladder to remove icicles, prop it up in a secure location, make sure you don’t step on any icy spots, and have someone below you to help out. You may also want to check the insulation inside your home to make sure everything is sealed well. In the fall, clear out your gutters for better drainage pathways.
It’s common in Utah to get a big storm with heavy, wet snowpacks. If it’s safe to do so, you can climb on your roof and remove the snow with a shovel or rake. Decide beforehand where you want the snow to land as you shovel it off your roof. Don’t use ice melt products or ice-breaking tools on your roof—these don’t just damage your shingles, they destroy them, forcing you to redo an entire roof.
Being proactive about icicle and ice dam prevention will save you money and headaches in the future. Here at RAM Builders, we can install a self-regulating heat tape on all the potentially problematic places on your roof. Our team knows where problems are typical and can place the tape only where necessary. Self-regulating heat tape turns on once temperatures fall below 40 degrees, which is much of the winter in many places around the Wasatch Front. We use commercial grade heat tape, which means it is GFI protected, doesn’t need to be always left off, and is durable. Most tape we see in hardware stores is poorly designed and doesn’t work until the temperature falls before 19 degrees. For all home related questions, reach out to us today.