ICE DAMS & PANTYHOSE
The past few weeks saw numerous areas in New England experiencing the most intense ice dams of recent memory. The Frugal Yankee had four major ones on his old 1801 farmhouse. This hadn't happened in years.
The cause of ice dams lies with snow, the weather conditions and the structure of your house. Getting at the root cause is NOT what this HOW TO... is about. This report is a simple, effective and less dangerous way of alleviating an ice dam once they have started to develop.
The ice dam occurs at the edge of the roof by the eave (see diagram). The ice forms and any melting snow or water behind the dam builds up. Water being water, it will start looking for a way to flow. At these times, that usually means through your roof and into your house. This is not a good idea.
If this does occur, here is the Frugal Yankee solution. Take an old pair of pantyhose, preferably your wife's. Cut the legs off by the crotch. Take a whole bunch of snow melting salt and fill each leg with it. Tie the end off.
Carefully climb a ladder to the ice dam. Scrape as much snow off as possible and then lay the salt filled pantyhose across the ice dam. The leg should be perpendicular to the dam. The ice will slowly melt creating a channel for the water to flow. This can take from a few hours to a full day depending on the thickness of the ice dam.
Two words of caution, this is a temporary solution and be extremely carefully climbing on a ladder or on your roof in the winter. It is dangerous.