ice dam questions


1950's ranch-on-a-slab in western NY. This is our first winter in the house.
There are ice dams front and back. We've been reading up, know about improving overall ventilation, etc. The most immediate situation is on our 3-sided room that sticks off the back of the house (faces west-ish). It's more of a porch-like 3 season room, made 4 season with the addition of a heating duct in the wall adjoining the original structure of the house. The roof/ceiling is not very thick on this room. The ceiling is a drop/acoustical tile ceiling, and when you push up the tiles, there are only a couple of inches before you touch the insulation, which I am assuming is up against the underside of the roof? It appears to be foil backed bat insulation (?). From where you enter the roof off the kitchen, the ceiling slopes from the standard 8 ft down to about 5.5ft at the furthest wall.
Today was sunny and temps were up a bit, and I noticed seepage above and around the windows in this outermost wall. No gutters, no eave on this extension, and a very thick ice dam at the edge, probably 4-5 inches and extending up the roof a good 3ft or so. There were some impressive icicles hanging, which I chipped away quite handily with a rubber mallet and a cardboard box to protect the windows. Lots of runoff while I was out there.
I did a bit of this chipping along one edge of the roof surface from a ladder, cleared maybe a couple square feet, but got tired fast (I had roof-raked already) and worried about all that pounding on the thin roof of this room. The overall roof is in good condition, we're 6 years in on a 30yr asphalt roof.
Questions:
Would some other kind of insulation a)be possible and b)improve the situation for the future of this room? Heating wise, we use/heat this room for approximately 12 hours a day and close it off after dinner with lovely plastic accordion doors and close the heat vent.
Would the heating cables along the edge of the roof be a good solution for this small expanse, maybe 14 feet? There is an outdoor light, which I despise, mounted at a corner and would happily see it turned into an outlet for wires with a switch just inside on the wall.
Read in the paper today about a metal roof snow slide? Anyone have a ballpark on what that might cost for this small area, and does it seem a reasonable idea in this situation?
For the immediate moment, meaning tomorrow being the one day accountant/it's-tax-season mister will be home, we want to make some serious headway with the ice dam itself. I read about making the pantyhose filled with melt chemicals, and wonder can we just spread the chemicals out all along the ice dam and clear the whole thing off over the course of the afternoon, instead of just creating the drainage channels? The height is very low, so we'd be able to reach it all from the edge with the stepladder. Is there any reason not to spread the melt stuff around on the dam?
Any other suggestions, besides the very helpful ideas of moving or demolishing the room, would be appreciated.
Karen
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Any kind of insulation is possible but the insulation is only a part of the problem. the bigger part of the problem is ventilation. If you atttic were properly insulated AND ventilated then ice dams would be minimized. The insulation should not be touching the bottom of the roof. there should be an air gap between the insulation and the roof ideally.

Heating cables are a good solution. They just cost you to operate year after year.

Not sure what you mean but metal roofs often have a diverter which directs water away from say an entry way. Although I have seen them used with metal roofs I'm not sure it would be compatible with other materials.

That is what I do. Just climb up there with a bag of salt and sprinkle directly on the ice. After it has had time to take effect you can go back up and gently push the ice off the edge with a plastic shovel.
What I do is, after a large storm I just go up and shovel the entire roof. it's a bit of work but totally solves the problem. ice dams can cause a lot of damage to your house when they melt so please do take care of it right away.
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I have a lot of vents and also good insulation. Still get icicles as most people do around here. I,too, live in WNY and have a 50s ranch style.

That's an option, but with the snow on the roof now, it's too late.

Only seen a few of them, don't know about how they work.

There shouldn't be any problem with you doing the melting procedure. Just don't do like others and hammer off the ice because you may damage the roof and make matters worse. You may want to create a couple of channels and also apply the chemicals. It's a long job that I spread over an entire day and took rest periods. Only worked outside in the daylight. I used the "safe" melting stuff that I bought especially since it's safe for pets, so it's also safe for the roof and bushes on the ground. Got it at the pet store for $15 a jug.

From my experience it's the Temps and the sun that produce the icicles. In this month long cold I noticed that if it was sunny it was enough to get the snow melting on the roof. But the daylight isn't long enough to sustain the melting and when it gets dark then the icicles form. It repeats the next day and so on.
When there is no sun (in my area it's been cloudy a lot) plus the temps are below the teen there are no icicles.
It's been a while since icicles formed and they started forming today. Received some sun today. Along the south side of the house. Also getting icicles on 2 valleys. In a day or so it's supposed to go up into the 20s and I'll use my roof rake to remove some of the snow. Good luck.
Marina
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try spraying Icynene Insulation problem solved
| | | Questions: | | Would some other kind of insulation a)be possible and b)improve the | situation for the future of this room? Heating wise, we use/heat this | room for approximately 12 hours a day and close it off after dinner with | lovely plastic accordion doors and close the heat vent. | | Would the heating cables along the edge of the roof be a good solution | for this small expanse, maybe 14 feet? There is an outdoor light, which | I despise, mounted at a corner and would happily see it turned into an | outlet for wires with a switch just inside on the wall. | | Read in the paper today about a metal roof snow slide? Anyone have a | ballpark on what that might cost for this small area, and does it seem a | reasonable idea in this situation? | | For the immediate moment, meaning tomorrow being the one day | accountant/it's-tax-season mister will be home, we want to make some | serious headway with the ice dam itself. I read about making the | pantyhose filled with melt chemicals, and wonder can we just spread the | chemicals out all along the ice dam and clear the whole thing off over | the course of the afternoon, instead of just creating the drainage | channels? The height is very low, so we'd be able to reach it all from | the edge with the stepladder. Is there any reason not to spread the melt | stuff around on the dam? | | Any other suggestions, besides the very helpful ideas of moving or | demolishing the room, would be appreciated. | | Karen | |
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