Icicles may be beautiful to look at it, but unless your Elsa icicles can be dangerous or even deadly. In this post we will talk about how icicles form, prevention, and how to safely remove them.
Are Icicles Dangerous?
How they Form
Specific weather conditions are required in order for icicles to form. The main component for this is that snow has settled. This usually occurs when the temperature is at freezing level. Icicles are more likely to form on days where the sun is shining despite the freezing temperature. They form on areas that are exposed to sunlight.
As well as mother-nature, human action can also cause icicles to form due to the way we heat out homes. When it is freezing outside, we are more likely to protect ourselves from the cold by heating our homes. Even without a specific heat source in the attic of a house, heat can rise from the rest of the property to melt the snow and ice on the roof.
You are likely to find that they will form on the same structures and in the same places every winter. Because the heat source and position of the sunlight will remain the same.
Are Icicles Dangerous?
Accumulated ice and icicles can cause gutters to crash. They can fall on unsuspecting pedestrians or homeowners. While rare, death can occur from being hit by a falling icicle. Icicles are especially dangerous when the temperatures rise and the sun causes accumulated snow and ice to melt during the day. Plunging nighttime temperatures re-freeze, the melting snow, causing them to form along the edge of roofs and other structures.
Precautions When Working Around Icicles
These are some precautions you as a homeowner should exercise when working around icicles:
- Do not stand under structures with icicles. The weight of icicles can cause gutters, awnings, and ornamental features to collapse and fall from the building.
- Never climb onto a snow- or ice-covered roof. You could slip or fall off.
- Never place a ladder directly against a gutter covered with ice or icicles. The pressure of the ladder against the gutter my cause the icicles or ice to dislodge, falling on the person below.2
Can I Remove them Myself?
You may be tempted to get a rake or shovel and try and knock down icicles off your roof. While it may be tempting this can also be very dangerous and leave you injured. These are some solutions for icicle removal:
- Attic fans. Even climates that are generally mild, during the winter months of December and January, can occasionally see cold snaps with low temperatures that drop below freezing, allowing them to form on your roof in the event of snow, ice or freezing rain. When freezing precipitation is expected, turn on your attic fan and aim the airflow at the intersection of your gutter and roof. The flow of air disrupts the formation of icicles and ice dams. This method also works to stop the ice from melting and leaking into your home.
- Rakes. While standing safely on the ground, hold a long-handled aluminum rake and use it to scrape the snow and icicles off your roof. The long handle on the rake allows you to remove icicles and snow from several feet up the edge of the roof and gives you clearance for the them to fall without hitting you. To avoid damaging the shingles on your roof, choose a rake with wheels at the tines.3
- While steadying yourself on the ladder, use a hammer, ice pick, or your hands to gently break off part or all of the icicle, then remove as much excess ice from the area as you can. If the icicle won’t budge, don’t force it, otherwise, you might take part of your gutter or roof off with it. In some cases, it may be wiser to cordon off the area underneath the icicle until it thaws enough that it can be removed or you can call in a professional to take care of the problem.4
Our customer’s safety is our top priority at Industry Elite Services, and we want you to exercise caution this winter when trying to remove icicles from your roof.