Some Effective Tips
Each winter brings with it the threat of snow and ice storms. And with each storm comes the potential for ice damming. In fact, ice dams are a common occurrence for homes in colder climates. This happens with the melting snow and ice refreezes in your gutters and roof edge. If you have icicles hanging down from your eaves, you have ice damming happening.
These dams can cause substantial damage to your home. If the dam grows large enough, the melting water will back up and seep under your roof shingles and into your home’s attic, insulation, ceilings, and walls. The dams can also cause your gutters to pull away from your home, resulting in more water damage. And, don’t forget about how dangerous those icicles are to those who walk beneath them.
Mother Nature can’t be defeated, but there are some things you can do to fight back to prevent ice dams from forming in your gutters.
1. Before Winter Starts, Make Sure Your Gutters Are Working Properly
A properly working gutter system is your best defense against water damage. It is important to check to make sure you don’t have the following gutter issues:
- Improperly installed gutters
- Sagging gutters
- Gutters separated from downspout
- Loose gutter joints
- Leaking gutters
- Wrong size gutters
Some things like sags or separations, and even dripping gutters are easy to notice. Whether the right size gutters were installed and proper installation can be trickier to identify. Look for water damage around your home – rotting facia, water creeping into your basement, soil erosion in the plant beds, marks on siding or foundation, and pools of water. These are telltale signs of a gutter issue. We also recommend a routine assessment of your gutter system by a professional. This can be done during a gutter cleaning.
2. Routinely Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
One way to help prevent ice damming is to make sure your gutters are free of debris so that the melting snow and ice can freely flow from the roof to the gutter to the downspout and away from your home! Even a single, strong storm can carry leaves and twigs into your gutters and downspouts. And if your home is surrounded by trees, you have even more of a reason to keep on top of clogged gutters. Be sure to clean your gutters as needed.
3. Ensure Your Attic Is Properly Insulated and Ventilated
The temperature inside your home also plays a role in ice damming. If your attic is not properly insulated, warm air will rise up through the ceilings of your home, into your attic and out to your roof. This can cause your roof’s temperature to be warming than the outside air. This warmer temperature will cause the snow and ice on the roof to start melting, but then re-freezing in the colder air. If the attic is not effectively ventilated, you will also have a temperature issue. Take steps to prevent this type of temperature fluctuation by addressing any insulation and ventilation issues.
4. Rake the Snow Off Your Roof
If a storm dropped a lot of snow on your roof, it is a good idea to promptly remove it. Of course, you can’t remove it all. Use a special, long-handled roof rake to remove about four feet from the bottom edge of the roof to help prevent ice damming. Do not go on the roof, use the rake from the ground.