Ice in gutters

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With the Denver area undergoing an unusually long cold spell, ice has built up fairly solid in the gutters, and on lower shingles, on the north side of house. The south side does get just enough sun to have melted OK. In 20 years in this house, this has not happened before.
Is there a best way to remove this ice before any damage is done, particularly if it ever warms up again around here ??
The gutter and eaves are first floor, easily reachable with ladder on ground.
--reed
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Reed wrote:

As odd as it sounds go up the ladder and attack the ice with a good load of road salt. It will melt the ice without causing any damage to your shingles. People have been doing this around here for years.
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snipped-for-privacy@nf.sympatico.ca wrote:

OK, I'll try some tomorrow. I assume, like a car, it would be good to rinse everything later with water when possible.
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Reed wrote:

Don't be too generous with the chemistry: salt and brine dripped onto plants below may damage or kill them. Of course, this is a potential problem only if the great snows of Denver aren't permanent.
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Then when the spring arrives, call a roofer and ask about attic ventilation, ridge vents, soffit vents and so on. Primary cause of ice dams is inadequate attic ventilation and they will lead to long-term, major roof damage.
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And do NOT be tempted to break the ice with a hammer or scraper as it will damage the shingles.
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Reed wrote:

If you can get some icemelt just sprinkle a little on the ice in the gutter , if not you can use any other salt granules you can get, (like water softener salt) or just use table salt.
Too much salt will kill plants and grass so use as little as possible. If the air temp is above freezing puring some warm water on the ice in the gutters will work too.
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I have a friend that tried to start an "Ice Dam Removal Service" by using the equipment from his carpet cleaning truck. He cleared the ice dams off of my house and a few others as a "test". The process worked, but insurance costs and others issues made it an non-viable operation.
He heated up the water in the tank in his truck and put a high pressure nozzle on a hose. Next, he climbed up on the roof and using the high pressure hot water, he cut vertical slots in the ice dam at roughly 2 foot intervals. He then under-cut the ice until huge chunks fell off the roof.
You did not want to be under one of these chunks when they hit the ground! If you've never seen an ice dam up close and personal, you might not realize how little of the dam you see from the ground. By the time the dam fills your gutter, they can extend 3 feet up the roof. Some of the chunks he dropped were too big for one person to lift.
I'm sure you can see how this enterprise was wrought with potential problems. Put a guy up on an icy roof, hand him a hose and ask him spray water all over the place. Everything within 15 feet of the house was coated with ice, we went through hundreds of gallons of water, and ended up with a few broken bushes. You don't have much control about where a chunk lands, so there could be damage to property.
But you know what? It was worth it - the dams had started to cause water to run down inside the walls of my house and drip out of the trim around the windows. One section of wall is an exterior wall on the second floor only and melting water from the ice dam was running down the inside of this wall and dripping in the doorways on the first floor and basement. I had buckets everywhere and tarps hung in the doorways to direct the water to the buckets. Once he cleared the dams (~5 hours of work) the dripping stopped immediately.
The process worked, and while it probably saved my house from some serious water damage, it was very labor intensive and fairly dangerous. The problem was that he didn't think he could have charged enough per job to make enough to live on considering it good take an entire day to clear a major dam like I had on my house.
Reed wrote:

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I did that procedure a few years ago. I got an adapter for my kitchen faucet and connected a garden hose. Hauled the hose outside and while standing on the ground made the channels. When the hot water ran out I went inside and waited for it to heat up again. I have a one story home, so didn't have to be climbing on any ladders.

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Reed wrote:

Remove gutters. No further problems.
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That's fine for the desert where you live and it never rains.
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Me wrote: in response to "Remove gutters. No further problems".

Nah. Northeastern Canada. It rains and blows here a kilometre from the North Atlantic. Snows too. Although have only twice in some 36+ years had to actually shovel off the roof. First time it took 13 hours shoveling and our estimate of the weight of snow was a couple of tons! On one of those occasions seriously considered hoisting the snow-blower up on the roof and clearing it that way. But normally snow just blows away. When ten inches of snow melts that's one inch of water and sometimes quite quickly too.
Only used the blower (on the ground!) once so far this winter; it's rained more than snowed. Compared to the amount of snow only a few years ago probably due to global warming. Also acid rain which is affecting clean water supplies.
Can't remember the annual rainfall here but it's considerable! A couple of inches rain over several days would be quite normal. On both our homes, since 1960, we have not installed gutters. This 36+ year old house has sufficient overhangs (24 inches) to drop water away from the basement wall. Although those overhangs do sometimes catch the wind which quite often will hit 60 mph (100 kilometres) or more.
Experience by others seems to be that gutters can cause rot, overflow, fill up with debris etc. And except for two short sections; one over our front porch step and secondly the sliding glass doors from our family room out onto the deck at the back would not be necessary anyway?
So in a nut shell gutters seem unnecessary. If it's raining hard you don't normally go in and out anyway! And if it's blowing, a common occurrence, the water will go in various directions anyway.
Cheers. Have fun and get rid of the gutters!
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terry wrote:

I too live in the northeast. Freeze / thaw. 4 seasons can occur in one day. The purpose of the gutters on my home is to draw water away from the foundation - not to keep me 1/2 dry when exiting my home. I do question the 24" theory but whatever works for you. I do have a 3 foot overhang on my A frame summer home however the slate roof and the pitch is like teflon - nothing sticks to it. I'll keep that in mind if I ever decide to replace the roof / trusses on my exhisting home. I suspect the OP's use for rain gutters is the same as mine (foundation). For now I still recc. salt for a slow melt and cables for next year.
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in buffalo ny i have learned over the years: a hot water hose broke a plastic pressure washer, it was not rated for hot water. a huge chunk of ice on a shallow pitched upper porch during a thaw crashed into and broke the first floor deck, we repaired it that spring. we have tried to use a hot water hose out the second floor window but it does not put much of a dent in the sidewalk snowpiles or ice, and it runs out to cold before you have had any fun with it. at this moment your upcoming four days rising into the sunny 40's are nightly complicated by freezing nights, and the wind chill factor is a hidden danger to water piper in exterior walls which don't belong there. if the roof rafters are not insulated and there is a doorway to the attic, open it and you will safely send up extra heat from the home to the shingles, although electric roof de-icers may be in your future next fall. you will generally find them sold out in the present winter you are having. any other way to do an attack on the ice is generally unsafe. buy the roof size giant tarps to cover any damage in advance before you cause it. they may be sold out. it's only a good day for watching tv when your temp is 25F and the wind chill is 2 degrees. do not use a ladder at this temperature. http://wwwa.accuweather.com/forecast-15day.asp?partner=forecastfox&traveler=1&zipChg=1&zipcode 201&metric=0 and hourly forecasts at: http://wwwa.accuweather.com/forecast-hourly.asp?partner=forecastfox&traveler=1&zipChg=1&zipcode 201&metric=0&hbhhour=7&hbhday=1
terry wrote:

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Well I read this and I would figure on two things.
1. You're CRAZY, I thought global warming had Colorado like Florida by now.
2. Wondered if you thought about using a non-corrosive ice melt?
tom @ www.MeetANewFriend.com
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use calcium chloride not rock salt
wrote:

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On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 12:43:05 -0500, "Gary Niskanen"

Anyone kow if calcium chroide is corrosive?
tom

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wrote:

Yes, it is at least somewhat corrosive. It is a combination of calcium and chlorine.
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wrote:

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less corrisive than rock salt that'll rot your shingle, calciumm won't

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