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“My Old Gutters Never Filled With Ice”

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.