One of the most common problems affecting the integrity of your home in cold weather is the build-up of ice dams.
Ice dams occur in the winter when conditions are most unfavorable for roofing. Freezing and thawing snow causes ice to form in gutters, preventing the normal flow of water from exiting by way of downspouts as it should. And since water always seeks the lowest level as it flows off your roof, it will find a path downward, even if that path is to migrate under shingles and underlayment and into your home – leaking down from the ceiling or from around interior window frames.
Naturally, people need a quick fix to this problem until something more permanent can be put into place. The problem is, there is rarely a quick fix for ice dams. For one thing, it can be difficult or dangerous to get up to where this ice is.
You can try rock salt to melt the ice. You can also try using an ice pick but you run the risk of damaging your roof or your gutters – or falling off a ladder and ending up in the hospital! You can also try using heat tape – which can be purchased at a hardware store. Sometimes these products are called “roof ice melt cables” and they may go by other names. However, because fires have started from heat tape you need to be sure that your smoke alarms are working and it would also be a good idea to review your homeowner insurance policy. Stay away from cheaper products and look for heat tape that is thermostatically controlled and made from heavy gauge wire. Some people may want to use a propane torch to melt the ice quickly but that method is a big fire hazard and you can end up burning the paint off your gutters, damaging or melting fascia and soffit material and damaging the roofing materials adjacent to the gutters, all of which will not likely be covered by home insurance.