It’s almost winter, and homeowners in snowy climates know what that means: ice dams. Ice dams are, of course, chunks of ice that form on your roof and trap snow melt. The melt freezes, then melts, then freezes, then melts, wrecking your roof, straining your gutters, and generally making the winter as miserable as possible. Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with it, and you can do more to stop it than just shoveling out your downspout and making sure it’s clear. Here are three great ways to ensure the melt goes off your roof and stays off.
I. Roof Heaters
A fairly common method of preventing ice dams, roof heaters work exactly the way they sound: wires or other heating elements are placed on your roof, and during the winter, with a flip of the switch, they heat up, cutting through ice dams and allowing the melt to flow through into your gutters.
However, roof heaters do have some serious drawbacks. First of all, you’ll need them professionally installed: electricity and your roof can be dangerous without a professional installation and warranty. Secondly, you’ll need to keep an eye on them and repair any damage to the system before using it: for example, if you’ve got squirrels or raccoon’s, they may chew at the insulation of the wires, leaving bare copper exposed on your roof. Finally, ascetically they are not appealing unless they are hidden among a protection system like Gutter Helmet.
However, newer systems deal with the squirrel problem quite effectively so look closely at this option.
Ice dams are generally caused by varying temperatures on your roof; a few areas in your roof are warmer than others, so snow melts faster there, flows down the roof … and refreezes once it gets to colder areas. This process keeps happening until suddenly there’s a dam with outside temperatures hovering around freezing. If it sounds like the best way to prevent this is to keep your roof at one consistent temperature……you are absolutely correct.
This can really be as simple as installing a few vents to let cold air into your attic and warm air out. Remember, heat rises; as you heat your house to stay comfortable, it rises out of the living areas and enters your attic, where it can become trapped. So vents, like roof peak vents, let the heat escape, keeping temperatures more consistent.
But to really make sure they are even across your entire roof, install some batt insulation. This will keep the heat from affecting your roof, and combined with the vent, will keep the melt where it belongs; in your gutters.
III. Install Gutter Helmet
Why? First of all, it keeps your gutters clear. One of the biggest problems with ice dams forming in gutters is your downspout will get backed up overtime without any routine cleaning and it goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Stopping or clearing that backup before winter arrives will save you a lot of time and headaches, all associated with ice dam damages and repairs. Trust us, we know, the last thing you want in February & March is a couple thousand dollar bill to fix damage caused by ice dams.
Secondly, the design of Gutter Helmet helps prevent ice dams from forming since your gutters are protected from debris year round; when above freezing, water will flow freely into your gutters vs. collecting in your gutter due to clogs, then freezing in the gutter creating a solid block of ice.
Thirdly, here at Gutter Helmet we hear about icicles a lot this time of year and yes you may get icicles with Gutter Helmet but please loose no sleep because the sight of icicles means your system is working as intended, water flowing around the nose and instead of entering your gutter, it freezes due to below freezing temperatures. For extreme winter conditions, please check out our Helmet Heat product that installs right within the system itself.
In short, with a few simple installations and expenditures, you can save thousands in repairs. Not too shabby!