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Ice Dams & Ice Melting

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Don2222, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    Messages:
    7,085
    Loc:
    Salem NH
    Hello

    With all the roof ice dams and icy front stairs and driveway, I finally did something.

    Has anyone tried hooking up a hose to get a nice Hot water spray for melting some of this ICE?

    I found 3 ways to easily connect a garden hose up to blast hot water on the steps, roof and driveway to melt the ice.

    1. Attach a portable dish washer adapter to the kitchen faucet
    Connect the hose and turn just the hot water on.

    Adapter can be purchased at Home Depot for approx $4.95

    2. Purchase a shower water diverter and hose adapter for the shower. Install when noone is taking a shower. :)
    Connect up the hose.
    Turn on just the hot water.
    Divert the water to the hose with the diverter button.

    Hot water hose blasting kit for shower!
    __1. Watts A-668             $2.95  
      3/4 †MH to 1/2 †FIP
    __2. Shower Diverter       $15.98
    ________________Total   $18.93

    3. Solder in a ball valve Boiler drain to the Hot water pipe on your hot water heater or DHW line.
    Connect up the hose
    Turn the water on and Blast away.

    Parts (Home Depot or Local Heating Supply Store)
    __1. 3/4 x 3/4 Sweat T with 1/2 " Thread $10.93
    __2. Ball valve threaded Boiler Drain $3.29
    __3. 3 ' piece of pipe insulation $5.50
    _______________________________$19.72

    Since adapters and hoses are NOT the best items to have in the kitchen and bath I went with # 3

    01. Cut Hot water line
    Clean and Flux
    02. Install Brass T
    Solder
    03. Use TFE Paste on Boiler Drain
    Screw in
    04. Insulate and Label

    Attached Files:

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  2. davmor

    davmor Member

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    How did it work? Often thought of trying the same thing. Seen a company on the news that removes ice dams with a steam pressure washer.
  3. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    They also make freeze proof hot water hose bibs. Very nice for getting the salt off bikes in the winter. You just have to make sure you don't leave the hose connected.
  4. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Salem NH
    Hello daymor

    I picked up one of these at Walgreens for $19.95 for the Garden Hose!
    Water Jet
    http://tinyurl.com/68sudmd

    So with the pure Hot Water right from the Hot water Tank and the Pressure attachment it cuts thru the Ice like a Knife thru BUTTER !!

    Attached Files:

  5. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Peru, MA
    I was going to suggest hooking up your hose to the silt drain on the hot water tank and use the hot water right from the source...Don beat me to it.

    Its a good idea I think...initially I was thinking it would just amke more ice, but any ice you may form from the residue is easily melted with some ice melt or rock salt...alot easier than the 11" ice dams that form in some spots on my house!

    I found a great method for my ice dams...I go to the worst spots where I've got water pooling up and cut into it with the bow saw...you have to be careful of your roof of course, but the saaw rips right through the ice like nothing and then you've got a nice managable chunk thats separated from the main dam and its pretty easy to chip out of there. It helps that I have a skylight to poke my head out of thats right near the dam...on the other hand if I didn't have the skylight I likely wouldn't have that ice dam there either.
  6. davmor

    davmor Member

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    Thats a great idea Don. Thanks for letting me know how it works. Dave.
  7. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    You can use the hot water hook up for the clothes washer too.
  8. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

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    I've fought ice dams a lot of ways. For big dams you can't beat a chain saw. Cut down vertically every six inches or so stopping an inch or two above the shingles, then rip horizontally following the roof pitch. Sometimes I drill 1 1/2 inch holes in the ice and then cover the ice and fill the holes with salt. Salt works best on warmer days. Hot water works but it's expensive and it takes a lot to melt ice.

    Whatever the method the key is to avoid damaging the roof. I've fixed a lot of leaks caused by axes and hatchets.

    The best solution is proper insulation which will prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.
  9. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    I just used a hammer to smash the ice. it got all of it but the thickest ice. If I needed it, I would have just used the cold water. 50 degree water will melt the ice just fine.

    PS - I just use the drain on the hot water tank to wash my car once per year b/c I like to flush 5 or 10 gallons out anyway.
  10. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hi Czech

    That is another great idea!

    Also I hooked up a Thermometer from the Plumbing & Heating supply store. (Do not use a Boiler Temp Pressure Gauge)

    The temp for this test is 130 Degrees F.

    If I crank up the Aquastat on the Water tank to 150 F or 160 F then it will really be steaming!!!

    Attached Files:

  11. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    That's what I was gonna say. This is how I fill my hot tub. Garden hose from hot water side of washer hookup. It helps that my house has an unused washer hookup in a kitchen closet that is near the door to my deck and the tub.
  12. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    wish I'd read this earlier... my father had water dripping into his basement that had run down the inside of his walls because of the glacier on his roof.
    I used rock salt to help cut channels and eventually broke the dam.
    The saw ideas sound great and I wish I'd thought of them. Hopefully next winter I'll have insulated his top plates and reinstalled the ridge vent that the boneheaded roofer took off and roofed over last year.
  13. doubledip

    doubledip Member

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    Just an observation. You all are addressing the issue after it occurs, you need to prevent the ice damming by removing the snow at least two to three feet up with a roof rake… no more ice dam. Or else insulate the *%#@ out of the attic and make sure there is proper ventilation. There lies the problem.
  14. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Or better yet do both . . . remove the snow and insulate. That said, I insulated my crawl space and it helped some . . . and I remove snow and it helps a lot . . . but I still get some icing and will toss some rock salt on the roof when it starts to get a bit thick.
  15. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    I have hot and cold hose bibs in the heated garage
    it is nice to have warm water to make soapy water
    to wash the vehicles and rinse
    never thought of trying it for ice removal
    I figured it would just refreeze really fast
  16. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    With 300 gallons of hot water? You must have a large water heater...
  17. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    No. It took about 4 hours. I let it run for a while, then let water heater catch up, and so on...
  18. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

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    Ice dams are far worse than usual in my area this year. However, very few of the victorians and bungalows seem to have them. They have no snow on their roofs!

    My guess is ice dams aren't a problem for houses with either R7 or R70 in the attic. Its the typical houses with R19-R30 in the attic that have the ice dams this year.
  19. doubledip

    doubledip Member

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    Keeping the attic space and the roof as cool as possible is the key. Without proper ventilation ice damming will be an endless battle.
  20. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

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    My point was the houses with little attic insulation apparently don't have any problem with ice dams. You can either keep the roof below freezing OR you can keep the roof warm enough that the water doesn't refreeze before it drips off. Anything inbetween is the problem.

    I've got R28 in the attic, a ridge vent, plenty of soffit vents, and huge ice dams. *shrug*
  21. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Your going to get ice damming no matter what.
    The snow/ice on the roof will melt from the sun and refreeze when it hits the gutter. The gutter fills with freeze to the top and the ice damn bridges back onto the roof.
    No amount of ventilation or insulation is going to stop that. Ice & water shield will though.
  22. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, but do you have any rafter vents??

    Like this:

    Then cover the rafter vents with Home Depot's Reflectix foil so the whole house is 10 Degrees F in the summer!!

    Attached Files:

  23. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

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    Venting can help reduce ice problems on a poorly insulated house but good airtight insulation is the key to avoiding ice dams. The last few houses I've built have had no venting at all and have no ice problems even with 30 or more inches of snow on the roof and temps well below zero. These roof systems have urethane foam sprayed to the bottom of the roof sheathing. Venting would be ineffective due to second floor cathedral ceilings with hips and valleys.

    If you are going to invest money in fixing ice problems put the money in insulation, not ventilation. The vents are just allowing your expensively heated air to escape without causing ice. Insulate the roof properly and the heated air stays inside, and your house is tighter with a lower heat bill. Of course retro fitting insulation is always easier said than done.

    Sometimes ice is caused by an interior chimney or the sun melting snow off a portion of the roof. There isn't much you can do about it. I hate to build interior chimneys above a valley, that usually leads to ice in the valley. Especially if the chimney is used a lot.

    KarlP- The only way a house with no insulation will not develop ice dams is if it has no overhangs. The water is going to re-freeze the instant it runs onto a cold surface, which is usually the overhang above the eaves.
  24. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello Reggie
    That is very interesting. Is that urethane foam on the outside or inside of the roof? Do you have any pics of it?

    Also you are 100% right on the Heating Bill!! For the Winter, I blocked up the Gable Vents with a door I made out of plywood with blue foam core insulation glued to the inside of the Door!! My house is warmer now than it has ever been !! That means money in my pocket for not wasting heat!!
    The cold winds do not blow into the Attic anymore sucking the heat out of the house like what I call the "Heat Vacuum" effect!!!

    Attached Files:

  25. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

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    Foam insulation is applied in the rafter bays, just like fiberglass. It's the same stuff that comes in the cans.

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