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Pre-Vacation Ice Dam Prevention Measures

You’re planning a wintertime vacation.  It’s a lovely time of year to travel.  You’ll have a great time!

But when you get back home, what will you find?  Will you find a safe, comfortable home that’s exactly the way you left it—or will you return to a house that’s covered in tons of ice and snow with water running down the walls and dripping from the ceilings?

If you’d prefer toasty over leaky, you’ll want to follow these steps to minimize the chance of ice dams forming on your home while you’re away.   Here’s how I suggest you do that:

1.  Turn down the heat as much as possible.  Ideally, turn your thermostat down right before you step out the door.   As you may know, one of the major causes of ice dams is the build-up of heat in your attic, which causes the snow on your roof to melt, which eventually turns to ice as it runs down the roof and reaches the overhangs.  If the attic stays hot, snow will continue to melt and freeze until there is no longer any snow left to melt.  If you keep the heat dramatically reduced, at the very least you’ll help prevent leaking and will save a bundle on your heating bill.  At most you’ll have prevented ice dams from forming in the first place (and you’ll still have saved yourself a fist full of cash on your heating bill).  Keeping the heat turned down is a win-win.

2.  Rake your roof prior to leaving.  The more snow you can remove, the better.  If ice dams were fire, snow would be the gasoline.  No fire without fuel.  No ice dams without snow.

3.  Pre-schedule a roof snow removal service to remove the snow from your roof if and when it snows while you’re gone.  Make sure they know to come over only if there’s a certain amount of snow accumulation.  If you don’t have a history of ice dams, have them come out only after about 6 inches of new snow has fallen.  Or if you’ve had ice dams before and feel as though your home is particularly susceptible to ice dams, you may want to have the roof snow removal service come by after even less snow has fallen.

A couple notes on having a roof snow removal service come by when you’re out of town:

– Make sure that at the very least they clear the snow off the overhangs of your roof.  It’s even better if they can get the valleys of your roof as well.  And, as always, the very best is if they can clear the entire roof.  Important: Having your entire roof cleared of snow is something you should only consider doing a handful of times per year.  You don’t want to be scraping your entire roof after every 2’’ snowfall.

– Just keep in mind that the roof snow removal company will have some sort of minimum charge per visit to your home.  Either it’ll be a trip-charge plus some hourly rate, or they’ll just have a minimum charge per visit.  Just depends on the company.

Enjoy your vacation—and don’t let the worry of ice dams spoil your rest and relaxation!

Written by on December 2, 2011

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