The Dangers of Icicles

Posted on January 29, 2016 · Posted in Roof Maintenance, Roofing Safety

Most of us fondly remember icicles from our childhood. Looking out the window while they formed, measuring to see how big they grew, and licking icicle popsicles are precious recollections. Despite their innocent appearance and the warm memories, icicles can be dangerous to your home and self.

While small icicles may only sting slightly if they fall on you, large ones can be extremely harmful or even deadly. Sizeable icicles should be removed for the safety of people and pets. Use caution when knocking icicles down from your roof, or when passing under them. Falling icicles can also damage property. They have been known to shatter car windows when falling off tall buildings. Be extra watchful on windy days, and when the sun shines directly on the icicles. These conditions increase the possibility of tumbling icicles.

Another risk is structural damage to your eaves, roof and home. Frozen water is heavy. A gallon of water weights approximately eight pounds. When frozen, water is denser and more compact. As a result, a gallon of water in icicle form may not look like much, but several gallons would dramatically increase the weight hanging from your roof. This hanging burden stresses the construction of your home.

The most common form of damage due to icicles is an ice dam. Ice dams form when snow piles on your roof and the bottom layer melts. This water runs down the warm roof until it meets the cold air at the edge and refreezes. The water then backs up behind the ice dam and could leak into your attic or home. Ice dams typically indicate a larger problem of warmth escaping your home. Left unchecked ice dams can cause large amounts of damage, even a collapsed roof.

Icicles cause leaky roofs, which in turn trigger a host of other problems. Melted snow can slowly leak under your shingles and sit, leading to rotten decking. If you have an attic you seldom enter, before you know it, you could have holes in your roof. Another consequence of roof leaks is mold and mildew. Water can reach insulation and begin to mold quickly.

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true for icicles, and they are relatively easy to prevent. First, seal any gaps or cracks in your roof. Warm air escapes quickly from these openings and melts the bottom layer of snow, creating icicles and a large energy bill. Second, make sure your home is well insulated. Look for uneven snow melting, and target the areas where snow first melts. Make sure you house is properly vented. Lastly, after large snowfall, remove the excess snow as soon as possible.

If you miss the look of icicles, just remember the damage their beauty disguises. Look for them in other places, such as a birdbath or birdhouse, where they cannot fall and hurt anyone, cause significant structural damage, or mold and mildew. If you need help, give Horch Roofing a call 207.273.1111. We’d be happy to help with your snow and ice removal.