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Spring thaw is coming… watch for ice dams

Spring in Northern New England is a wonderful time.

Although with the lasting cold temperatures and seemingly endless snowstorms it may not seem like it, spring is around the corner!  But along with the annual traditions of making maple syrup and starting garden seedlings comes another phenomenon that we should be on the lookout for- ice dams.  Older houses that are common in New England often have uneven attic insulation or other building characteristics that can lead to ice dams.  Warm sunny days followed by cold nights are perfect to get maple sap flowing, but they also are perfect conditions to form ice dams.  If your house has places where the insulation is inadequate or there is movement of warm are near the eves, daytime snow melt can refreeze at night and cause water the next day to back up behind it.

Fortunately you can often see this happening.  If you see large icicles hanging from the eves or at corners near dormers or gables, there is a good chance that water is backing up behind the ice you see.  Carefully remove the icicles and allow the water to drain.

Newer houses, even well-built homes, can experience ice dams.  Also, insulation within your house may have shifted or other conditions may cause dams to form where they have not in the past.  So take a quick walk around the house to check for problems, then take action to avoid leakage and prevent expensive damage to your home.

The diagram below is borrowed from (  That site has numerous excellent articles and guides pertaining to building and maintaining buildings.


Figure_01: Ice dam at a typical roof

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