Two summers ago, my mother decided to have additional insulation installed in her attic. Her timing was perfect because last winter was one of the coldest on record. Alloy Gutter Company received numerous calls inquiring about icicles and ice dams during this frigid weather. It’s not unusual for people to blame their gutters for their icicle problem. However, insulating your house is the best preventative against ice dams. My brother was out in her backyard, blowing the snow, when he noticed something interesting. He could see that all of the other houses had icicles hanging from their gutters. Her gutters had NO icicles. She had insulated her attic in order to help keep the upstairs bedroom warmer but the bonus was that it prevented the ice damming that all her neighbors were experiencing. If you want more information on what causes ice dams, we do explain it in more detail on this website. For most of us, the icicles are a minor annoyance. However, we can come out and apply calcium chloride in order to help melt the ice if leaking becomes a problem. As usual, Alloy Gutter Company will be here for you all winter long.
Here at Alloy Gutter we get many calls during the winter regarding Ice Dams. What is an ice damn? An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Ice dams form when melting snow on a roof runs off and refreezes at the edge of a roof. This happens because of poor roof insulation. Ice dams do not mean there is something wrong with your gutters or that your gutters are leaking. The most common area of an ice dam is your eaves. This occurs because of the condition stated above. The corners of your gutters (Miters) are also a very common area for an ice dam to form. We here at Alloy Gutter Company get many calls stating that their gutters are leaking at the corners, however the gutters are fine, it’s the water finding the lowest location to drain and the water is running over the frozen gutter causing the dam and homeowners to think that the gutters are leaking. If you are experiencing ice dams on a regular basis there are some things you can do to prevent them. You can give Alloy Gutter and get your roof raked. You could also purchase heat tape and have us install that for you. Before you give us a call to install the heat tape make sure you have a licensed electrician install a plug for the heat to connect to.
It looked like it was going to be a mild Michigan winter this year, but in the last couple of weeks Winter has unleashed her fury... And where there is melting snow on roofs, there are icicles. But do your icicles indicate a problem? As you can see from the above picture, moving water freezes whether it is falling from a steep waterfall or a steep fall off the gutters of a home. Many people worry that the presence of icicles hanging on their gutters indicate a problem with the pitch of their installed gutters. This is most likely NOT the case. So what does cause icicles on your home? Experts say they are a byproduct of an “ice dam,” a buildup of ice on the roof along the part of the roof that extends beyond the exterior wall or the eaves. The buildup is a result of energy loss from inside the house. Not only does this loss of heat have a high monetary cost, but It also can lead to problems like rotted roofs and rafters, ruined insulation, moisture inside the walls, mold, peeling paint and even physical injury from falling icicles. When the snow on the roof melts from the loss of heat off the roof, it runs down to the eaves. When the outdoor temperatures are cold enough to freeze, the eaves are also frozen since they extend beyond the warmth of your house. The melted snow freezes when it reaches the eaves and your gutters. Eventually, enough melted snow (that has now frozen) fills the gutters. When melting snow runs over the filled frozen gutters, icicles are the result. How can you prevent icicles? It's simple! Fix the problem that is letting heat get out of your home by way of your roof. Insulate or re-insulate your attic. In the mean time, have the snow that will eventually melt removed. We can help with our Roof Raking service.
We field calls like this on a regular basis during the winter months. Ice dams are one of those “inconvenient truths” that we as Michiganders have to deal with each winter. Ice dams are created when ice and snow begin to melt off of the roof due to the home losing heat through the attic and through the shingles. As the water then flows down the roof, it reaches the gutters which are much colder than the shingles, and re-freezes. When water re-freezes, it can do a number of things: 1. It can pour over the front of the gutter, creating large and sometimes dangerous icicles. 2. It can work its way between the gutters and fascia, giving the appearance of a leak. 3. It can travel up the roof line and, unfortunately, even underneath the shingles. All of these problems, albeit frustrating, are normal. Ice dams occur on homes regardless of the pitch, condition, or workmanship of gutters. A couple of possible solutions to this problem are: 1. Additional insulation to slow the heat loss through the roof. This will save you money on your heating costs and could potentially improve your ice dam situation. 2. Another solution is hiring someone to remove the ice and snow from your roof and apply CaCl to the gutters and roof edges. The folks who call stating, “My old gutters never filled with ice” are mistaken. Either they never paid attention to the condition of their old gutters, or the old ones were magical. This would be like buying a new car, and after the first snow you call Ford Motor Company and tell them that you’re tired of using your snow scraper and you want them to do something about it, because your old car never got covered with ice and snow. (Maybe they actually field calls like this!) Of course I’m being facetious but ice dams are difficult to impossible to avoid in Michigan winters. Be patient, wait for a thaw, and your ice problem will go away. I know, these Michigan winters sure feel long, but they always end.