Same Old Story…

…same old song and dams!! After a day of shoveling and clearing off snow-covered paths and cars, Coach and I were resting our weary bones next to a roaring fire last night, having nachos and beer and watching reruns of Pawn Stars (I know, but how many on demand movies can you watch in a day when you are trapped inside!?!) When all of a sudden, I hear it: drip, drip, drip. Like Edgar Allen Poe’s Telltale Heart, the sounds grow louder, pounding into my consciousness with each drop until the deafening waves can no longer be ignored! (well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea…) Looking up, I notice the tiny drops along the ceiling moldings that are slowly spiraling their way down my freshly-painted walls!

Ceiling Drips

Ice Dams!!!! For those of you blissfully unaware of this natural phenomenon, according to Wikipedia: “An ice dam (or ice jam) occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice. Ice dams can occur in various ways which include a glacier blocking an unfrozen river and a thawing river being blocked by a still-frozen section further on.  This is a pic I took in Alaska from a ship- beautiful, right?!

Alaskan Glacier

On a small scale the term can be used for ice blockages of gutters and spouts on buildings.”  Not so pretty.

roof ice dam diagram

In above diagram you can see how the ice dam forms on a building:  inadequate insulation, incorrect pitch in the roof, no ridge or soffit vents, multiple roof lines causing areas of built up icicles- all of those conditions are present in our old house. What you don’t see is Coach up on the lower roof with a hammer and a roof rake removing the glacier of snow that piled there during the storm on Friday night.

roof hammer

roof rake

These pics are taken from my upstairs bath window. I think Coach takes some kind of pleasure taking a hammer to our old house.

roof coach

Yes, much like the House of Seven Gables of Nathaniel Hawthorne fame, we have many roofs-or is that rooves-hmm…

roof gables

Our original 1850’s home was a small cape with a deeply pitched roof. Add a few rooms and a porch, and you have a recipe for ice dam disaster. This is Coach on the roof, shoveling off the six foot snow dune sitting over my family room!!! Now you may wonder where I was during all of this roof-climbing and snow raking…I was inside taking care of the dog. She is scared by the sound of pounding on the roof! Right.

roof dune

The confluence of roof lines causes large icicles to form on the upper roofs, which then drip down onto the lower roofs, resulting in multiple areas of built up ice dams that then leak back into the house and leads to the drips down the inside walls.

roof ice

Damn!! We have tried caulking, adding a rubber ice shield roof, heating cables, but nothing has prevented the return of the ice dam after a big snow storm. Now, looking at the front of the house with the gigantic icicles dangling ( just waiting for some unsuspecting mailman), you would think that would be the problem area.

roof icicles

Not so, because those just melt and fall harmlessly to the ground. Which in the spring leads to another problem, the leaky fieldstone foundation. But that’s a story for another blog. Of course, in the overall scheme of things, a bit of a drip is not a big deal, while in other places folks are being evacuated as their homes along the coastline are being swept out to sea.  And we have had a reprieve of sorts, with the weather being so mild the past few winters. So, it’s time to venture back downstairs to see if there was more dripping overnight. And do a bit more digging out.

roof view of street

And wait for spring, which is just a few short weeks away!! Have a (hopefully) sunny and safe Sunday everyone!! Susan


  1. restylinghomebykelly says:

    If it’s not one thing! Always something when you own a home. Unbelievable amount of snow wasn’t it? Enjoy your sunny Sunday also!


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