Uh-oh...rooftop ice dam damage. Dammit!

I had the same problem at my house this year. Water was coming through several windows and staining the ceiling in some rooms. I had some guys come and remove all the ice from the roof and the leakage stopped immediately. My homeowners insurance covered the ice removal and the projected repairs.

Unfortunately, it just snowed and the leaks have started up again. FML and FMRoof. With this weather it’s a pain getting any roofers to show up as they have a ton of work.

From the product Owner’s Manual:

I’ve seen hockey-puck shaped ones around here, called Roof Melts. <- WARNING: That link auto-starts a commercial video for the things.

I did not know that some people try laying melt cables on existing snow or ice and can’t speak to how well it works. Seems to me that if you plug them in to a GFCI outlet, what you mostly risk is damage to the cable, so it might be worth a try – but I’d want to check in with someone who knows electrician stuff first.

My first experience with ice dams was about 2:30 this afternoon when the water started dripping in 3 places. Neither my husband nor I can get on the roof. I will try the panty-hose and ice melt tomorrow, but this year we have icicles all around the house. Someone is coming over tomorrow to see what he can do, but I foresee a long winter. Maybe once the ice melts and we go back to just snow it will be better. I guess I will have a roofer come in and look at everything this spring. I’ve never had this before. Are cables for next year a solution or just a band-aid on a cut?

best prevention is to heavily insulate your attic (above ceiling not under the roof deck) to loose less heat out roof, this also saves you in heating costs and cooling costs. also ventilate your attic space to keep it cold, this also helps in saving summer cooling costs.

the cables keep liquid melt water (caused by heat from your house through roof above attic) from freezing as it goes over the cooler roof overhang.

I saw a story on the news last night where people are filling nylon stockings (panty hose) with ordinary calcium chloride ice melt, then chucking them up on the roof. They claimed that worked pretty welll, and the ice dams were broken in a couple of days.

if you use salt on your roof then you should water the area a lot after the thaw and try to dilute the salt which is bad for any vegetation and soil it lands on.

After unprecedented ice storms, I have an ice rink on a portion of my roof. Solid ice at least 2-3 inches thick. I also have some icicles coming out of one vent on my eaves, which seems like pretty good evidence that water is getting into the attic. The ground is also covered with 3-4" of solid ice, making a ladder ascent impossible. I tried putting some ice melt in a stocking but it just slid off the roof.

I have never had this problem before, so I hope it’s not insufficient insulation in my attic. It only happened on the part of the roof that is always in shade; other parts of the roof that get more sun don’t have any ice buildup.

How much insulation should I have in the attic? There is insulation blown in up there maybe 3-4" deep. I was thinking of putting a thermometer in the attic to see if it is getting too warm. What should the temperature difference between the house/attic/outside be? How much would it cost to get more insulation blown into a two-story, 2000 square foot house?

for some values in USA


having high R values (maybe 36 to 50) might be desired for a heating climate.

you would like the roof surface to stay below freezing (both insulation and attic ventilation produce this) providing it is below freezing outside. on a sunny day the roof will heat up and you want that heat to be only from the sun and not leaked from your house.

We had the same thing from last year and needed a whole new roof a few months ago. Don’t let it go, once water is coming into your house, you can have all kinds of water damage and we will need to re-dry wall our entry way and kitchen sometime sooner or later.

Here in Minnesota, they have been doing it that way for years.

P.S. Remember to ask first, to make sure you get old, worn panty hose. Fixing a roof is expensive, but divorce is even more expensive!