It can be a terrifying view for any homeowners: Ice dams built up along the roof-line against the gutters, or blocks of ice thoroughly blocking gutter downspouts. It’s true; ice dams and frozen gutters can cause damage to your gutter system and your home. Gutters weighed down with ice can pull away from the home, sag or break. Ice dams can force water back up under the eaves of the home, causing mold, mildew, leaks and water damage. So what do you do if you have ice in your gutters or along your roof-line?
The first instinct for many is to go after the ice aggressively. That means hammers and picks pounding against the ice, and consequently against your roof and gutters. If your ice dams look intimidating, getting rid of the ice at all costs can be tempting. Avoid the temptation to avoid damaging your roof, gutters, and eaves. Attacking the ice forcefully likely will do more harm than good.
Address leaks first.
If you notice ice dams along your roof-line, your first move should be to check the interior of your attic for signs of water leaks. The ice dams might look intimidating but actually not be doing any damage. If you see water leaking into the corners of your attic, try aiming a fan at the water spots. The heat from your attic causes the ice to melt and allows water in. Blowing cold air onto the water should be enough to freeze it and stop the leak.
Rake away snow.
Do you know how ice dams form? The heat from your attic warms and melts the snow, which then refreezes along the colder edges of the roof-line. So, the most sensible way to stop ice dams is to get the snow off of the roof. You can use a specialized rake for that purpose. Some such rakes even provide adequate heat to melt ice dams, so you can gently pull them off of your roof.
Wait it out.
Patience might be the best remedy for ice in the gutters or dammed against the edge of the roof. Often, removal methods are ineffective or cause additional harm. If you don’t see the damage being caused by the ice dams, it is best to wait until temperatures warm and the ice melts away naturally.
Prevent ice dams next winter!
With ice dams, prevention is key since there is little that can be done once dams form and gutters freeze. Keep gutters clear of debris so that water can flow freely through them in the winter. Ice blocks form in the gutters when water hits an obstruction and can stand long enough to freeze. Clean gutters at least every six months, or consider a gutter guard system to keep debris out of the gutters in the first place! Along the roof-line, increased attic insulation and heated cables along the edge of the roof-line can help to prevent ice dams that can damage eaves.
If your gutters have been damaged by ice, or if you would like to hear more about gutter guards or gutter systems that keep debris out, call The Gutterman of TN to schedule a consultation!