Why Icicles Need Attention to Keep You and Your Structure Safe

icicles

In areas that are particularly susceptible to cold winters and heavy snowfall, it’s difficult to predict when winter is going to end. Icicles are particularly beautiful this time of year, but most people don’t recognize the danger that comes with these hanging picks.

Icicles form after snowmelt begins to drip off and is frozen again by sub-zero air. New drips continue to pile up on the icicles and extend their length every time the temperature adjusts. Growing downward, some icicles can extend exponentially with the largest measured one somewhere in the range of 28-45 feet long.

Although Phil the groundhog saw his shadow on Groundhog’s Day predicting an early spring, the warming weather could be dangerous.

What Dangers Do Icicles Bring?

Beautiful as they are, icicles are not as harmless as their attractive nature may give off.

Icicles can be knocked down by a strong gust of wind or even a strong burst of afternoon sunshine. With temperatures warming as the sun reaches its peak in the sky, icicles are more susceptible to fall.

As insignificant as some may look, icicles are more dangerous than you think. Due to their shape, icicles cause a pinpointed and blunt impact regardless of if they have a point.

It’s not the sharpness that spells danger for individuals, but rather the weight and gravitational thud icicles can make. Icicles cause significant bruising and even broken bones. If an icicle hits you on the head and there is no minor cut, make sure you’re aware of the potential for a concussion if the icicle is large enough.

Think Twice About Ladders

Your instincts will tell you to knock the icicles down with your hand. In some cases, this is an effective method, but getting up to them causes problems.

Think again before using a ladder. The ground will most likely be slippery and create an unstable base below the ladder’s legs. Snow build-up might be present on the rungs and access snow on the bottom of your shoes can cause slippage.

If a ladder is leaning against the wall, the odds of an accident increase even more.

Getting pesky icicles off your roof shouldn’t mean risking your safety. If you feel you need to use a ladder, make sure the ground is clear of any obstructions and snow. Set up should be done on a flat surface with plenty of contact points.

Removal and Strategy

Taking care of the problem as early as possible is your best bet to avoiding large icicles.

Tap off small icicles before they have the chance to grow. When dislodging larger icicles use a gentle approach and make sure you’re not standing beneath an ice formation.

Brooms or sticks can add some reach from the ground to help you in your quest for destruction. Shovels and brooms are also a good tool to remove snow from your roof and avoid dripping all together.

Ice melt products on the roof are also not advised. These products can destroy shingles as can the use of hatchets or ice picks when breaking the ice.

Use a rubber mallet instead and hit the top of the edge where the icicles hang. Subtle taps will remove a large amount of the smaller ones hanging. Make sure when you’re completing this task that there is no one below you or in the vicinity to avoid any injuries.

As far as preventative measures go, creating an adhesive ice and water barrier is a good idea when you’re installing a new roof. Metal roofs are also ideal as it gives the snow a chance to slide off rather than catching on grooves in the shingles. The sun plays a big role in making the roof hot to prevent ice buildup on a metal roof.

Structural Damage

If your own personal safety isn’t enough reason to be cautious, the safety of your building could also be in question.

Ice deposits can be heavy. If icicles are beginning to form on a wire, beam or pole, odds are you’re going to have a problem. The weight of the ice alone can cause structural damage and put its reliability in question.

Down the line these structures could break and even worse, ice dams could form. Ice dams are a build-up of ice that occurs on the slopes of the roof of heated buildings. Much like icicles, ice dams are formed through the constant melting and freezing of the liquid.

This can impede meltwater draining and could even cause further damage in the form of a roof leak.

Call a Professional

The building you’re targeting for icicle removal is larger than a common house so another idea might be to call in a company with certified rope access technicians.

High solution specialists are used the most in commercial and industrial settings. Looking for safety and effectiveness? These individuals are highly qualified and experienced through rigorous training and climbing techniques to get the job done right.

If you don’t want to risk it yourself, a quick phone call to a professional could save you time and hospital bills in the future. Before taking the leap to hire these individuals, do some research and decide if you need this type of expertise.

Up On the Rooftop

Epic Rope Access Inc. can handle those pesky icicles on your roof. When you’re in need, we’re here to help.

Based out of Edmonton AB, we know that snow is a big part of your life in the winter. Avoid injuries and don’t waste your time removing these dangerous objects that should be handled by professionals with advanced equipment.

We have created a family of employees to achieve an incident and injury-free workplace. And it doesn’t stop there.

Call on us for your commercial and industrial needs. From window washing, vent cleaning, lighting maintenance and more. Epic Rope Access Inc. only is a call away.

So why wait? Give us a ring and leave the heights to us.

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