Any Magic Tricks For This?

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Forum topic by littlecope posted 02-05-2009 06:06 AM 2478 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3071 posts in 3524 days

02-05-2009 06:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I know there’s a lot of people here who work in the building trades, my question is, what the heck do you do about this? My parents have lived in the same location for 50 years and have had trouble with ice off and on for most of that time, but never more so than the last few years. Ice on 47 January 29, 2009 The icicles aren’t even that large this year, but the ice dam that builds up at the roof’s edge is anywhere from 10” to 16” thick. On warmer days, it melts from the bottom (next to the roof), and leeches up underneath the shingles, and into the walls and ceilings of the house. A real disaster!! The little rain gutter on the porch has over a foot of ice, all that’s probably holding it on at this point.
There are fellas in our area who are going up in a bucket to try to deal with some of these issues, not really sure what they attempt. I can’t see them chopping with axes or anything, they would destroy the roof eave. Torches? Then there would be fire danger, plus the melting water would go straight into the house.
It’s a real problem, if it melts slow the melt goes straight into the house, if it just falls it breaks anything in it’s path. My Dad has had two car roofs and the porch roof broken and battered by it in the past. Any ideas would be welcome! Michael C.

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

17 replies so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3789 days

#1 posted 02-05-2009 06:14 AM

Invite Al Gore over for dinner. You are in need for some of his global warming.

I am no expert, nor do I pretend to be one. I don’t know how you can prevent ice. Commercial grade gutters should stop the icicles. It will require a new roof, but they do make membranes that go under the shingles to prevent the ice damming. It is more expensive than the felt paper, but not as expensive as constant water damage.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3493 days

#2 posted 02-05-2009 06:36 AM

The ice is caused from poor insulation in the cielings and poor attic ventilation causing heat buildup in the attic and a “hot roof” which melts snow which runs down the roof to the eaves where it freezes and creates the ice dams. The remedy is to make the roof cold which means elimination of warm air in the attic spaces with better insulation and stopping any leaks of warm air into the space along with addiquate ventilation . A ratio of 1 sqft ventilation for every 150 sqft attic space is the common code requirement.

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Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3460 days

#3 posted 02-05-2009 07:36 AM

Mics has the best solution, a cold attic. But it’s hard to do especially with some two story houses without an attic. Here in Maine this is a very very common problem. Roofers have a rubber sheet they put on under the first several rows of shingles that help. But, from what I can see the roofs still will often leak or at least leak after a few years. Oh, BTW, gutters make it worse. As the snow builds up it crosses over to the gutters and the gutters help hold the ice on the edge.

Here is How I never, ever have any roof leaks. (beyond doing what Mics said above). When installing a roof or repairing one; on the first 6 feet. I put felt paper like usual then I put a row of roofing paper. That’s the thick stuff but not the one with the rocks. Place it with few nails and tar the nails. Then overlap another sheet and roll it out but tar 6” where they overlap. Then… seal the edge of the seam again with tar. Next, lay your shingles but tar a few inches of the top half of the shingle that doesn’t show being sure to completely tar the nails on each shingle. So you end up with shingles that are sealed from on row to the next. Tedious but it’s only a few feet. It looks from the picture that you’d have a lot of short roofs and porches to do so you’d have to do this process for all of these.

The other solution is to install a steel roof. They really look nice now but are fairly expensive. Interestingly the material is not that much and the one or two day installation is what costs. i.e. a roof that might have $2000-$3000 in materials could cost 8000-10000 total. Steel roofs are easy to put up. You can find directions online in many places.

I’m not a roofer or even a contractor but I’ve put on both shingle and steel roofs for myself and relatives and a few paying people who wanted one of my roofs because for some reason Mine was the only one on the street that didn’t leak.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3493 days

#4 posted 02-05-2009 08:53 AM

The “rubber sheet” is usually a bitumin membrane like Grace Ice and Water Shield. While installation of water proof membrains or sealed felt products will eliminate leakage through the roof for at least awhile it will not eliminate the ice dams, ice cicles or the damage caused by ice buildup (be sure to guard electric meters, gas meters etc under these areas. ) The only other remedy would be installation of an electric grid to melt the ice dams along the eaves or an “ice melt sock”. Basically both method work the same way by creating channels through the ice dam for water to run off of the roof. I have no experience with either.

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 3800 days

#5 posted 02-05-2009 09:42 AM

They make a heat strip that you install on the roof to handle this problem. Call around. Try Roofing, Gutter, Electrical contractors until you find one familiar with the product.

Bylin Roof Ice Melt Systems

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3902 days

#6 posted 02-05-2009 01:55 PM

move them to florida , we seldom have ice on our roofs ! lol

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3821 days

#7 posted 02-05-2009 02:19 PM

low voltage wires attached to the roof can help

-- making sawdust....

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3766 days

#8 posted 02-05-2009 02:24 PM

I had a two story house when I lived in Maine and I bought a roof rake. Got a 10’ piece of 1” metal conduit to extend it, and raked the snow off of the roof as far as I could reach after every snow. I also vented the attic with a couple of the square vents that Home depot sells, and with eave vents. No more ice dams.

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3524 days

#9 posted 02-05-2009 03:00 PM

The roof was re-done around 1995. I’m not certain, but I think they applied membrane because my parents would have told them about their ice difficulties. When my Dad did the roof himself back in “63 he went so far as to install copper flashing to the roof edges. But that only left less for the ice to cling to, with the result that it came down falling faster and would then rebuild and fall again. As far as heat loss into the attic, I agree and there is presently no insulation in the attic and only about a 6” vent in the whole roof. But that doesn’t explain the porch, where some of the thickest ice is, nor the garage which is unheated as well.
The folks aren’t alone in this of course, there are 100’s of people in the area with similar problems. The guys that do something about it are out straight and you can’t get anybody to come right away, you have to go “on the list”.
Moving to Florida is a great idea, but trust me, they’re not going anywhere until they get called to their Final Home….
Tenontim: just saw your post come in and believe it or not, my Parent’s neighbor has been roof raking it!
The good news is that it has stayed cold, and windy, and the wind is slowly shrinking some of the ice, through erosion and moisture stealing. Come Spring, I’m going to try to talk the folks into insulating the attic. I can do that and also knock some holes through the eaves. Thanks to all for their help! Global Warming my eye! Michael C.

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3493 days

#10 posted 02-05-2009 06:36 PM

I dont see any ice damns on the garage. The porch is heated and the roof of the porch is melting. Dont argue with me.

View woodyoda's profile


117 posts in 3479 days

#11 posted 02-09-2009 08:18 AM

On highrise construction, we bituthane the roof, it’s a material that you peal and stick down, a tar like material.
It could make a pool on your roof if you wanted it. Sounds like you’ll have to at least peal back park of your roof, then bituthane it and get rid of gutters where you don’t walk under them, let the water run off….easier to break off icecycles than keep repairing roofs….................yoda

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3736 days

#12 posted 02-09-2009 08:32 AM

I think that mics_54 and woodyoda have the answers. A hot roof (remember, ANYTHING above freezing is hot) will create those pesky ice dams in a flash. Insulate the heck out of it. Put more than is recommended. When summer comes around, peel back that roofing and install that bituthane roofing. I’ve heard it called “ice breaker” before. It’s sticky and nasty, and the hot summer sun will make all those shingles melt right into each other… it really does a great job.

If your dad has to peel back the top 2 feet of his siding on his walls to get blown insulation down them, I’d do it. The warmer you can insulate that house, the more money he’ll save in heating bills, and the less ice dams you’ll have (if any) in the winter.

It looks like the garage doesn’t have the ice dam problem, and the front porch (what I can see of it) doesn’t either. The back porch, whether heated or not, looks like it’s taking the water from above and then freezing.

Good luck, let us know how it works out.


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Mike's profile


391 posts in 3639 days

#13 posted 02-09-2009 12:44 PM

Your attic is actually too warm in the winter, ice dams are because the snow melts on the roof and the water when it hits the lower part by the gutters it refreezes. Causing the dam. more ventilation and more insulation between the house and the attic is needed. It lowers the temp in the attic in the winter, but the house will still be warm.

Clear the snow above the gutters pour on some ice melt, take some pantyhose and fill it with ice melt it stretches and put it in the gutters.

If they can, add soffet vents and roof vents when it gets warmer and insulation on the attic floor.

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3915 days

#14 posted 02-09-2009 02:53 PM

heated metal cable sold for exactly that purpose….................done

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Halling51's profile


55 posts in 3498 days

#15 posted 02-13-2009 12:34 PM


No electric wire or other sofisticated idea’s will help. The only solution is to make the isolation under your roof better.
Here in Norway we use 12”isolation and then the air should have the posibillity to move in and out on top of that. Al lot of things has been tested only isolation is the thing here.
look at my picture of my house – NO ice. And the house is from 1850! The new part is from 1980.

-- Steinar, Norway - - Nothing is impossible! Just the impossible takes longer time! Hegner SE

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