Icicles – Good or Bad?

Living here in Western New York – we’ve all seen them.  They come in various sizes and are a pretty solid indicator that Winter has indeed arrived.  But why do some houses have them and others don’t?  Could this mean that they aren’t necessarily a good thing?

Well, it isn’t the icicles themselves that are the bad indicator.  Experts say that icicles are a byproduct of an “ice dam,” a buildup of ice on the roof along the overhang, or eave (the part of the roof that extends beyond the exterior wall).  But what causes an ice dam?  Loss of energy from inside the house!  Ice damming could also lead to other problems with the roof and inside the attic as well.  How exactly does the heat from inside the house cause them though?  Ice dams form when the upper part of the roof is warm enough to melt snow and the eaves are cold enough to freeze the runoff into icicles.  What typically causes a roof to be warm is air from inside the house seeping into the attic and heating it up.  When water from melting snow gets to the cold spot where the eaves begin, it re-freezes and creates a dam, and then a pool of water accumulates behind it.  From there, as the pool of water builds up it can either go down to form the beautiful icicles or up, pushing up shingles and exposing the roof to the elements.

One way to prevent them is to rake the snow off of your roof.  Of course that is pretty dangerous, cold, and you will have to do it each time it snows.  There are many other solutions as well such as putting heat tape on your eaves so that when it will heat up and melt the ice and keep it moving to the ground.  You can also have a professional check on the insulation in your attic or for cracks that might be allowing the warm air to the roof.  For either of those check out some of our Home Service Partners!

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