Breaking Ice Dams with Lady’s Lingerie

ice dams on a roof

The beautiful large icicles are a sign that you may have ice dams

Do you have ice dams on your house?  While the long term solution to preventing ice dams is proper air-sealing and insulation under your roof, people with ice dams want to know what to do now, not next spring. A good way to deal with them in the middle of winter is using discarded pantyhose filled with Calcium Chloride. The stockings create a channel by melting through the ice dam allowing water to flow out as it melts behind the dam and on the roof.  While this does not necessarily get rid of the ice dams completely, it slows their formation and helps prevent ice and water from backing up under your roof shingles.

This might not be the sexiest use of lingerie, but it sure is practical!

How to reuse discarded pantyhose to break ice dams

  1. Save pantyhose when they get small runs throughout the year
  2. Fill a 1 foot section of the pantyhose with Calcium Chloride (CaCl)
    •  Watch out for large runs or holes as the CaCl can leak out.  You can fill it some and tie off sections with holes/runs with knots on either side and fill the remaining stocking
    • We found using an empty toilet paper tube with a rolled piece of cardstock makes a good funnel that holds the stocking open.
    •  We recommend CaCl because it is effective as an ice-melt down to -25°F
    • You probably want one CaCl filled sexy dam breaker every 4-6 feet.
  3. Tie a double knot about a foot higher in the pantyhose
  4. Cut the stocking above the knot
    • Tip from a reader – Tie a string to the end of the stocking so that you can adjust it or pull it down from the roof.
  5. Place the sexy ice dam breaker over the dam.
    stocking filled with CaCl over an ice dam

    Sexy Ice Dam Breaker

    •  You should use a roof rake if you have one to clear as much snow as you can reach.
    •  This can be challenging if you do not have enough snow piled up to reach the roof safely.
    •  If you have a roof rake or long broom, you can use that to carefully lift it up over the dam.
    •  Be careful using a ladder and be sure to have someone else holding the ladder if you do.
  6. The CaCl will melt a channel through the dam.  As snow and ice melts, it will be able to drain through that channel and off of your roof before it refreezes or works its way back into your home.

For more on why we recommend CaCl instead of Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt) or Potassium Chloride see our original post on ice dams.  Also check out our Green Snow Removal post.

Lower effective melting point makes Calcium Chloride the clear choice of ice-melt for breaking ice dams

Lower effective melting point makes Calcium Chloride the clear choice of ice-melt for breaking ice dams

Please share before and after pictures of using sexy ice dam breakers on our Facebook Page.

Happy Greening!

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Our area has had over 60″ of snow in the past 17 days.  That may not sound like a lot for some people, but on average we get 44″ of snow a year and it has been so cold here that it has not been melting between the storms. 

This morning Ellie took my phone and took pictures of the beautiful crystalline structures on her bedroom window.

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snowflake in front of gingerbread house

Ellie liked how our neighbors house looks like a gingerbread house in the background of this photo


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Huge pine tree with snow

Ellie calls this one “Christmas Tree”


Snow where the front door was.

And one from Jon – when he opened the front door this morning the snow against it made a beautiful pattern.

This much snow is hard on a lot of people, but we need to be happy that our problem here is too much snow, and not a lack of water. Other parts of the United States are going to have a serious problem this year because of the multi-year droughts they have been having.

Happy Greening,
Alicia & Ellie

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