Protect Against Ice Dams and Frozen Pipes This Winter

By Austin Cowley

Winter in Calgary can be especially harsh on your home. This is true when it comes to damage from ice dams and frozen water lines. These two risks can cause serious damage to your home and potentially thousands of dollars in damages and repairs.

This article will showcase some key tutorials that will explain how ice dams and frozen pipes occur, and what you can do to prevent them. Also, if they do happen, what you can do to minimize the damage and better protect your home.

How to Prevent and Remove Ice Dams


Ice dams are pretty but vary damaging to your home’s roofs. Ice dams are a common and damaging roofing problem during winter. When you see icicles hanging down off a gutter on a roof edge an ice dam is right there along with it.

Ice dams are created by poor roof ventilation and a warm attic space and can cause serious damage to your gutters, roof, interior and exterior paint, insulation, drywall, wood structure, and can even contribute to mold. Serious indeed.

Ice dams will form when snow melting off a roof refreezes at the roof’s edge. This happens when the warm roof surface (caused by poor insulation for example) melts the snow and creates a water stream from snow melt running between the snow and the warm roof surface, then freezing and turns to ice when it is past the exterior wall and arrives at the cold unheated roof edge or gutter.

As the snow pack continues to melt the water will continue to flow down the roof surface.
When it hits the ice the ice dam will continue to grow and increase in size, weight and potential

The tutorial will look at these issues:

• What causes ice dams?
• How to prevent ice dams.
• Determining proper roof ventilation areas.
• Battling ice dams before winter.
• Battling ice dams during winter.

Preventing and Thawing a Frozen Water Pipe

A frozen water pipe can burst causing serious damage to property and your home.

Next to ice dams, frozen water pipes are the next most common winter risk to your home. They are also even more damaging however, since they can occur suddenly and instantly create damage to the home with flooding water in wall cavities.

Frozen pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather and can be created by something as innocent as a hose being left attached to an outside water faucet. Water expands

as it freezes in a pipe and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. With no place to expand, the freezing water which will rupture most any pipe filled with water.

When the frozen pipe bursts it will dump several hundred gallons of water per hour and cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home.

Pipes are most vulnerable to freezing when located in these areas or conditions.

• In an outside wall;
• Under a sink on an outside wall;
• In an unheated crawlspace.
• When connected to a hose

The tutorial will cover these topics and get you ahead of frozen pipe problems including how to get an early warning on your phone about frozen pipes!

• Preparing to Thaw a Frozen Water Pipe
• How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe Behind a Wall
• How to Thaw an Exposed Frozen Pipe
• Preventing Frozen Pipes
• Remove the Garden Hose or Risk a Frozen Pipe
• Passive (no heat) Freeze Protection Against Frozen Pipes
• Get an Early Frozen Pipe Warning with an IP Thermostat

The frost proof sill cock is a good way to minimize frozen pipe risk.

One of the best ways to prevent frozen pipes is to stop an outside faucet from freezing. The simplest thing you can do to minimize that risk is remove your hose from the faucet. The next thing is is to install what is called a frost proof sill-cock.

This special exterior faucet has remote control of the water supply faucet valve located inside the home. The faucet head is connected to to an extension tube between 6” to 20” long.

At the end of the tube is connected a copper or PEX tubing water supply line. With the water valve inside the home and away from the exterior wall, freezing cold temperatures are now kept away from the water supply line which feeds the exterior sill cock or faucet. Frost-proof sillcocks can also include anti-siphon valve to prevent contaminated water from back flowing into your drinking water.

Steam ice dam removal requires a special steaming tool, not a power washer.

If your ice dam situation is severe and you choose not to tackle it yourself, you may want to call in a professional service company to remove the ice dam.

Make sure you do not hire a company who want s to attack the ice dam and your roof with picks and chisels and hammer drills.

A professional roofing company will use either a steam machine or a hot power washer. A steam machine will be probably be used if they specialize in ice dam removal.

These machines do not look very different but operate vastly different from each other. The steam machine is the tool of choice (the tutorial explains why) and you should select an insured contractor that uses a special steam cleaning machine to remove the ice dams on your roof.

Hot power washers use higher pressure and have the potential to be misused by the operator. One small mistake and the roof shingles on your home can be easily damaged from the power washer’s high pressure discharge.

Using a steam cleaning machine to remove ice dams is best. It operates under lower pressure and higher temperature and will not damage your roof.

Top 6 Places to Outdoor Skate in Calgary

Best Ice Skating in Calgary 2018/19

Can you believe we’re already halfway through December, that means its the season for outdoor skating in Calgary! Countless amazing rinks around the city it can be hard to choose. While you may have the luxury of living in one of Calgary’s lake communities such as Lake Chaparral or Sundance others will need to find their outdoor rink of choice. City maintained rinks will normally feature Christmas lights and fire pits, and some even have skate rentals available. Here are the best skating rinks in Calgary and what is great about each of them.

Admission is FREE to each of these outdoor rinks!

The city-maintained rinks (with the exception of Olympic Plaza) are usually open from mid-December to February, weather permitting. Check rink conditions here.

1. Bowness Park Lagoon features a stunning rink and many amenities: skate shop, teahouse, Christmas lights, fire pits, and washrooms. This is natural ice so it can be a bumpy, but all the kids have enjoyed skating here since they were a couple years old. Skating aids, strollers, and sleds are permitted on the ice so the whole family can enjoy the fun!
Address: 8900 48 Ave NW.
Hours: 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily, 5 a.m. – 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Rentals available.

2. Olympic Plaza Located across from City Hall in the hear of downtown, Olympic Plaza is an adorable date night activity or afternoon skate. There are skate rentals and washrooms onsite and many nearby choices for dining and shopping. A fun fact, Medal presentation ceremonies took place here during the 1988 Winter Olympics?
Address: 228 8 Ave SE
Hours: Olympic Plaza is open from mid-November to mid-March. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily.
Rentals available.

3. Prince’s Island Lagoon also located downtown, is easier to access as you can park at Eau Claire Market or the public parking lot near the Calgary Curling Club. It’s also more welcoming for families as strollers and sleds are permitted on the ice. The nearest washrooms are below the River Café (seasonal) and Eau Claire Market. Beautiful lights at Christmas and lots of places to eat just a skip and a hop away.
Address: 4th St & 1st Ave SW
Hours: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., daily

4. Carburn Park’s pond is in a natural setting near the Bow River. Washrooms are open year round and the rink has lights at night. Strollers and sleds welcome. After skating, stroll or snowshoe around the ponds; it’s a pleasant 1.5 km loop with no elevation gain.
Address: 67 Riverview Dr SE
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily

5. Rosemont Rinks at Confederation Park is maintained by volunteers and won the award for best outdoor rink in 2011. There are 2 rinks – 1 for skating and 1 for hockey – a great sledding hill beside the rink is a pleasant addition. Be sure to drive by the Lion’s Festival of Lights on the way there or back. It’s northwest Calgary’s best Christmas light display! See updates from Rosemont Ice Guys. Sleds and strollers ok on the skating rink (but not on the hockey rink for your child’s safety!).
Address: 2807 10 St NW
Hours: Mid December until February, weather permitting. Please note that the rink is flooded every Monday and Thursday at 8 PM so you must stay off the ice Monday and Thursday nights!

6. Spruce Meadows: Go skating on a lovely pond with an island in the middle, warm up in the Founders Plaza with a hot coco and baked treat (5-8 pm), then enjoy the 2 km long Christmas lights drive (5-10 pm). For more information, visit Spruce Meadows’ Website.
Address: 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW. Park in Lot 4 (Map).
Hours: December 9, 2017 – January 7, 2018 (weather permitting); 9 am – 10 pm daily (closed on Christmas Day). *Christmas lights are on from 5 pm – 10 pm.

Enjoy your time outdoors in the winter months and remember to bundle up and stay warm.