How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)

I feel sorry for all of you homeowners stuck in snow right now.  The snowy, blizzard conditions effecting most of the country is causing some serious headaches across our nation.  And it's not just the cold weather I'm talking about.  I'm talking about ice dams— something that more suitably should have been called ice damns, because they pretty much damn your roof to hell.

How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)

That is, unless you have some ice dam removal skills.

An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters or soffit.   When it forms the water then backs up behind the ice dam and creates a pool of water.  This pool of water can leak How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.  [via DIY]

Damn.  Those ice dams can cause some serious damage to your home.

But don't worry, Reuben Saltzman has some hacks for removing ice dams from your gutters.  For the whole article, click here.  He's pretty much covered everything you could think of, and gives the best solution, which is ultimately prevention.

Step 1 Give it the Axe

How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)

Pros:  Fast results.

Cons: Unsafe, cumbersome and can't touch the roof with it.

Verdict:  High risk, but fast and effective, though you'll probably damage your roof.

Step 2 Ice Pick (à la Basic Instinct)

How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)

Pros:  Very fast results, very little effort.

Cons:  Unsafe.

Verdict:  A great choice, if you can't stop yourself from poking holes in your shingles.

Step 3 Roof Tablets

Pros:  Very safe and creates channels for water to drain through.

Cons:  They don't land in place, which negates the whole safety thing— you still need a ladder.  Doesn't remove the dam, just creates a bunch of holes in the dam.

Verdict:  Damn.  Not worth the money.

Step 4 Pantyhose Filled with Salt

Pros:  Pretty safe method.

Cons:  Takes a seriously long time.

Verdict:  Better than nothing.  Maybe try plain salt though.

Step 5 Heated Cables

Pros:  Gets the job done, prevents ice dams from forming in the future.

Cons:  They aren't made for ice dams, posing a safety hazard.

Verdict:  Don't do this.

Step 6 Burn...Um... Melt It (Blowtorch Method)

Pros:  You can tell your wife you tried everything, even a blowtorch.

Cons:  Cold fingers, waste of propane, waste of time.

Verdict:  Um...

Step 7 And the Winner Is... Roof Rake

Yes, it's the safest and best way to lessen the effect of ice dams.  In fact, after every heavy snowfall, you should use a roof rake to prevent ice dams from even building up.  If you're interested, check out our tutorial on using roof rakes.

How to De-Ice Your Gutters (The Secrets of Ice Dam Removal)

But wait... The Ice Dam Guy has another solution...

Step 8 Hot Water Hose

Hook up a garden hose to the hot water valve in the washer room and melt the ice with a hot, steamy, streaming jet of water!

Good luck.

[Image credit: 1, 2, 3]

3 Comments

It looks cool. Thanks for advices.

Nice tips! And the little bit of humor is refreshing. But I'd say the best way to get rid of ice dams is to not get them in the first place! Having the correct ratio of soffit to ridge vents is step one, and then blocking off/insulating the attic so that hot air can't enter it is step 2. You have to create a "balanced system" of air flow through the attic so that the air temp inside doesn't get too warm and cause snow on the tip of your roof to melt and refreeze at the bottom, creating the dam.

Next time, put the camera on a tripod.

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