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Hallett News & Tips

Ice Dams

June 6th, 2011

Ice sculptures may look nice and cute, especially when it’s sculpted into good-looking figures and shapes. However, imagine that on a roof. Nature’s “impromptu” creation resting on the very edges of your roof, forming a big dam of ice and even spikes below. Why and how does this happen? How can we prevent this as much as possible?

The gutter system is an unwilling victim to ice dams. In normal weather, a good gutter system setup will work fine. But when snowy weather is around the corner – that’s a whole new game. Heat, snow and the cold temperatures are the main culprits behind this. The outdoor and indoor temperatures (usually from the attic) play a big factor too. The roof catches the snow, then melts due to the attic’s heat which is expected to just flow down the gutter. Instead, when the snow goes near the gutter, the abrupt temperature changes freezes it almost instantly resulting to a small “dam.” When ignored, the process just repeats over and over again until it forms a big and noticeable heap of ice on your gutter.

Some would point out that gutters cause the ice dams, which obviously is wrong. Aside from the damage that’ll give to your gutter system, melted snow could seep through and slowly damage your house interiors.  To prevent expensive repairs, the average homeowner needs to be well-equipped with the proper tools.

The indoor furnace’s intense heat melts snow right away and freezes up when it gets to the roof edge. Insulation and ventilation that’s properly planned can solve it. Exhaust vents let warm air go through and get cool air in. The even distribution of temperatures can ensure that the melted snow won’t freeze instantaneously when it gets to the gutter. Have the vents installed at the soffits and eaves, and make sure it’s regularly checked.

Some use a continuous vent that runs up to the roof’s peak, or a turbine. You can manually rake the snow regularly, and get heat tapes installed.

Posted in: Articles, Gutter System, ice dam