All About Ice Dams

ice dams

Are you living somewhere that gets cold? If so, there is a high chance that you have seen an ice dam in a gutter before. Icy chunks begin in the gutters and slowly extend onto the roof. To prevent ice dams, we’re discussing how to clean your gutters. Also, we’ll discuss how to fix leaky gutters and sagging gutters, and how to remove ice dams without damaging your roof or gutters.

Iced Up Gutters

When gutters are clogged or slow to flow, ice can build up. Let me explain why. Do you ever leave your tap running during cold weather so as to avoid having your pipes frozen? We do this because flowing water is more difficult to freeze than standing water. As long as your gutters are flowing, water rarely turns to ice before reaching the ground.

However, slow-draining gutters are more likely to freeze. As soon as the temperature drops below the freezing point, any standing water in your gutters will freeze.

How Snow And Ice Damage Gutters

When water freezes, it expands. As a result, it can cause cracks in sectional gutters and open seams. Ice and snow can be very heavy! If either weight is too much, gutters can sag, gutter brackets can break, and the whole gutter system can collapse. The slope of the gutter can be affected even by a very slight change. In addition, sagging or iced-over gutters are unsightly and can reduce the value of your property.

Is It True That Gutters Cause Ice Dams?

There is no mystery as to why gutters could create ice dams. Clogged or slow-draining gutters can no longer drain water off the roof properly after they freeze. Consequently, more and more water accumulates on your rooftop, which may freeze when it reaches the ice dam, making the problem worse. Nevertheless, most ice dams are caused by poor attic ventilation and insufficient insulation. Improperly draining gutters just make matters more difficult.

Can You Get Rid Of Your Gutters To Prevent Ice Dams?

This depends on the situation. In cases where your ice dam is caused by ice gutters, it might be helpful to remove them. Most American areas, however, require gutters. Replacing your old gutters with ones that are more suitable for your climate can be a worthwhile idea. 

In addition, gutters are rarely the reason for ice dams. A proper attic ventilation system is usually your most effective option for preventing ice dams.

Other things you can do to prevent ice dams include:

  • Minimizing damage by installing water and ice protectors.
  • Regularly and thoroughly cleaning gutters.
  • Installing properly sloped gutters to prevent standing water.

What Are The Benefits Of Regular Gutter Cleaning?

Falling leaves are typically seen in autumn. Many of them will end up in your gutters. When this happens, your gutters will likely clog. Even if they don’t, they will still slow down the flow of water out of your downspouts. In winter, both of these problems can lead to ice dams. Clean out your gutters before winter, rather than trying to melt an ice dam after it has formed. Therefore, they must be cleaned and inspected twice a year.

You should also clean your gutters more regularly in the following situations:

  • There are many trees in your yard.
  • It is quite easy for your system to get clogged.
  • You have leaking gutters or overflowing water.

Gutter Leaks: How To Stop Them

You can fix gutter leaks by following these steps:

1. Decide what material to use.

If you want to seal vinyl, aluminum, or steel gutters, you will need caulking so that you can paint it to match the gutters. It is generally advisable to avoid silicone caulking, as it cannot be painted. As an alternative, use caulking made of butyl rubber, polymer or urethane.

Repairing copper gutters should be left to a professional. Copper gutters are long-term investments, and caulking them is only a temporary fix. If holes are present in your copper gutters, a professional can solder them together to seal them.

2. Clean the gutters, then let them dry.

Remove any debris from your gutters near the leak. If you attempt to seal leaks before the gutters have fully dried, the caulking may not adhere or dry properly. You should also wait until the weather is sunny.

3. Clean the old sealant.

You will need to remove old caulk near the leak, especially if it is near a seam. You can soften the old caulk by spraying it with caulk remover. Next, scrape it off with a utility knife or another sharp object. Mold and debris may also need to be removed with a bleach solution.

4. Seal the joints using caulk.

Caulk tube tips should be trimmed. The caulking tube should be placed in a caulking gun and applied. Caulk the seam first, then around it, if working at a seam. Use one straight stroke to cover a hole or seam. Don’t apply more than you need to cover the leaky area. Make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the amount of caulking you should use.

The Most Effective Way to Fix Sagging Gutters

Other structural problems include sagging gutters. If your gutters are sagging, they may not be able to handle your weather and will need to be replaced. You can either fix sagging gutters yourself or hire a professional if you are not ready to replace them.

Here are some tips for fixing sagging gutters:

1. Purchase a new bracket.

Supporting the sagging area will require a brand-new gutter bracket. Wrap-around brackets are more supportive than hanger-style brackets.

2. Realign the gutters.

After unscrewing the old bracket from the fascia, reposition the gutter at the appropriate height.

3. Use a bracket to secure

The bracket should be installed in the wall so that it holds the sagging section at the correct height.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Gutters From Freezing?

To prevent gutters from freezing and contributing to ice dams, attic insulation needs to be addressed. In order to prevent and limit ice dams, you will need to consult a roofing professional to find out what each roof requires.

You can also prevent gutters from freezing by:

  1. After a heavy snowfall, hire a professional to remove snow from your roof.
  2. Make sure your gutters are properly sloped.
  3. Consider installing roof heating cables.

Ice Dams in Gutters: How to Get Rid of Them?

When blizzard conditions prevail, ice dams become inevitable. In cases where you’ve failed to prevent ice dams and your gutters and roof have formed one, professional help is usually required to remove it. It is possible, however, to deal with small ice dams yourself in a safe manner. Consult a professional roofer before attempting these techniques.

1. Let hot water run through them.

Although this method uses a lot of water, it does not harm your roof. To melt the ice dam, run hot water from your house top-down, starting at the top. Starting from the bottom may cause the ice dam to slide down, possibly injuring someone.

2. Avoid damaging techniques.

Axes and ice picks should never be used on your roof or gutters unless you plan to replace them soon. The use of blowtorches or other fire sources can also damage gutters and your roof. Your roof’s wooden components can catch fire even during the winter due to direct flames. Furthermore, you should avoid putting salt on your roof, as this may cause rotting or corrosion of gutters, as well as damaging your landscaping.

When you’ve exhausted all safe ice dam removal methods, hire a professional.

Final Thoughts

It is wise to consult a professional to inspect your gutters regularly to avoid problems. Call us today at (636) 699-0449.