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!
Jon

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Snowflakes

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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Figure: Observed Change in Very Heavy Precipitation Caption: The map shows percent increases in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events) from 1958 to 2012 for each region of the continental United States. These trends are larger than natural variations for the Northeast, Midwest, Puerto Rico, Southeast, Great Plains, and Alaska. The trends are not larger than natural variations for the Southwest, Hawai‘i, and the Northwest. The changes shown in this figure are calculated from the beginning and end points of the trends for 1958 to 2012. (Figure source: updated from Karl et al. 20091).

As we were re-scheduling projects and meetings because of the incoming blizzard, a co-worker from another department asked me: Are we seeing more frequent and more intense storms because of climate change? Yes, we are. Even my … [Continue reading]

Not Running Against the Wind Anymore

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When Jon and I first started writing Green Lifestyle Changes over 5 years ago, we felt that we had to write it. Very few people were talking about climate change or green living. We had become aware of the issue, and we were very concerned about … [Continue reading]

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Is your shampoo, body wash, or toothpaste killing fish? Not with some crazy new chemical, but something very simple: tiny microbeads of plastic. At some point the companies that make personal care products realized that they could put tiny … [Continue reading]

Review of Eco-Renovation Strategies Book

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We were contacted by Self-Counsel Press and asked if we would review some or all of the books in their new Green Series. We are always interested in finding good books that we can refer people to, so we agreed to review them if they sent us copies of … [Continue reading]

Win 3 Green How-to Books!

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