When you start seeing icicles hanging off the gutters, it's time to be concerned about ice dams, which can build up along roofs and gutters and cause major problems for homeowners.
Ken Carney, president of Baybrook Remodelers, said ice dams start to form when an attic heats up.
“All we need is the inside of a roof to reach 33 degrees. Once it reaches 33 degrees, the snow on the roof begins the melting process," Carney said. "If we have two or four inches of snow it's not a big deal. You start putting 10, 12, 14 inches on your roof, there's enough fuel to create a major ice dam."
The melted snow turns to ice when it hits a cold gutter, and that's how the ice dams form. The dams block additional water from running down the gutter and away from the house.
“What happens is the water gets underneath the shingles and that's when it starts to pour into the house,” said Carney.
Carney suggested emergency measures to take if water starts to enter your house. First, turn down your heat to 58 or 60 degrees.
“If you have water coming in and it's affecting your sheetrock, take a broom handle and put a hole in that ceiling," Carney said. "That directs the water to that hole to the bucket you put down. You don't get that spreading action where you start wiping out parts of the ceiling."
You can also fill stockings with ice melt and lay them in your gutters to melt any ice. Don’t try to chip the ice away – you could make things worse.
The ultimate solution pertains to the insulation in your home and will prevent your attic space from getting warm in the first place.
“We recommend and code demands on a new home, R38 on an attic, so you need this much insulation from your attic floor up,” said Carney.