About a year after we bought this house, we learned a new winter term. What is this winter vocabulary item that will now haunt our winter lives? The word is ice dam.
We learned about ice dams the hard way. One late winter morning, I woke up and heard dripping. I slowly turned on the light and saw water coming in our bedroom. Yes, we had a leak there and on the other side of the wall, in our bathroom. We had no clue what was going on. We called a handyman that we knew and he came over. When he went on the roof he immediately saw we had a few giant ice dams that were allowing the rain to flow back into the house via the roof shingles.
Ice dams are something to be feared as a home owner in the northeast. If you drive around and see pretty icicles hanging off of homes, it typically means there is more going on up over the roof. Our fear of water coming into the house from ice dams means that TechyDad is constantly outside raking our roof and working on the ice.
The windows in our upstairs room allow us to get a first hand look at the lower section of our roof on the one side. Checking the ice dams has been very depressing this year. Saturday morning, we were scared of the weather report. It said a lot of rain and ice was coming our way. We went out and bought supplies to target the ice dams after others had suggested this technique. We wanted to make channels for the water to flow off of the roof and not back into the house.
When we came home from Home Depot with the 50 pound bag of calcium chloride, I went and found an old box of knee highs. TechyDad and I filled four of them to begin the experiment. After about an hour, we could see that they were doing something, so we went and filled six more knee highs to tackle the ice dams before the rain. We noticed an area of water pooling in one section and worked there. Sure enough, these nifty knee highs did the trick. The opened up an area for the water to flow off the roof.
So far so good. Of course, next year we plan on installing some heating coils on the lower roof section and other problem areas to try to prevent ice dams from forming. And if you are wondering, I will never be able to look at knee highs the same again!