By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The recent waves of snow in the region has been the perfect recipe for ice jams on homes. 

Icicles hanging off your gutters may be a somewhat pretty postcard of the winter but they can also be very damaging.

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The weight of the ice can bring down gutters and cause water to back up under the eaves and into homes often leaking down through ceilings.

Andy Amrhein from Evey’s True Value in Bethel Park says you need to treat the ice jam.

“Calcium Chloride or these white pellets are the best type to be using, not the flakes not the magnesium, and definitely not rock solid,” he explained.

Amrhein says the calcium chloride disc is the most effective to get your gutter open again.

“Just like you think of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ hockey puck, you can just throw it up on top of the ice jam or you can reach out a bedroom window a bathroom window and slide it down on top,” he said. “Those hockey pucks are instantly going to burn a hole through that ice.”

Another home remedy is a pair of pantyhose.

“Fill it like sausage links with these calcium pellets, and then tie the end and tie a rope or string to the end of it. A long one,” Amrhein said. “Then throw that up onto the roof or reach out a window and slide it down onto the ice jam.”

It might sound strange but Amrhein explains, “The stockings are a mesh, the beads are going to burn right through the ice itself.” 

He says that string on the end is critical.

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“If your aim was bad you missed the gutter you can retrieve it and try again, or once it melts you’re able to pull what’s left of that stocking back out of the gutter, so everything is going to flow again,” he said.

Amrhein says you may need to do it in multiple places so put the first “sausage” near the downspout.

“You want to start at the end that you need the most on. So even if you do that and want to skip a couple of areas and do another, the more you do, the more ice melts the better off it is,” Amrhein explained.

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Another popular way to get the ice melter up on the ice jam according to Amrhein, “A lot of people take these beads and take a coffee can and tape it to a long pole and just reach up there and dump it into it that works fine too.”

He advises you to leave the ladder in your garage.

“You got an aluminum ladder you got shoes covered in ice and snow, you’re gonna fall and break your neck,” he warned.

Whatever method you use the more ice you can melt off your gutters Amrhein says, “You’re going to drastically increase the flow by melting the ice and getting the gutter damn clear, so it starts working.”

By the way, an ice jam on your gutter does not necessarily mean you have a gutter jammed with debris. 

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Amrhein says jams can happen just from the snow on your roof and the freeze-thaw cycles.