Prevent Icicles on Gutters with These Tips

Winter brings a swirl of blustering wind, snow, and icicles. While the winter wonder-scape is undeniably beautiful, it can also be treacherous. Even something as innocent as icicles can grow and damage your gutters with their weight or pry under your shingles and retreat into the attic, where the ice often melts to cause more damage in its water form.

large icicles forming on gutter

All of this happens because of ice dams in the gutters. When excess heat leaks from the roof, it melts the snow, and as it trickles down, it touches the cold metal on the gutter and instantly freezes. The ice continues to build until the passage is completely blocked. If the gutter is clogged before this buildup, the blockage happens even faster. The dam doesn’t stop the ice from building though. Instead, it starts to spill over the side, forming large icicles. It also pushes back against the roof and can dig under the shingles.

If you’re wondering how to prevent icicles on gutters, keep reading these tips. And if you’re still having issues or you’d rather let the experts handle it, feel free to request a job estimate online.

Related Topic: How to Plow Snow

Icicle Prevention Techniques

As with most issues, prevention is the most effective solution.

  • Clean Gutter: Do clogged gutters cause ice dams? They can certainly contribute to the issue. If the water has no place to flow, it will dam more quickly than if there was a passage for the runoff. That’s why cleaning your gutters in the fall can help prevent icicles from forming.
  • Proper Insulation: One of the best ways to prevent icicles on gutters is minimizing the heat leaking from the roof with proper insulation. Insulating the attic floor will keep the heat in the home where it belongs. Some insulation under the roof could also help as a barrier.
  • Seal Air Leaks: Even if you have your attic properly insulated, leaks from your chimney, flue, or other vents can offer enough heat to melt the snow on your roof.
  • Heat Tape: Apply heat tape to the gutter and crisscrossed on the edge of the roof. This tape plugs into an outlet and uses electricity to generate heat. This heat will keep snow from forming back into ice before it runs off the gutter.
  • Rake Snow: By using a snow rake or a push broom to clear the snow from your roof, you can minimize the chance of snow melting and trickling into the gutters to freeze.

How to Melt Ice Dams in Gutters

Perhaps the ice dams have already formed and are growing. How do you clear them?

  • Calcium Chloride Ice Melter: Fill an old pantyhose with a calcium chloride ice melter and lay it on the edge of the roof, across the gutter. The ice will start to melt and be on its merry way.
  • Don’t Use a Hammer or Shovel: Don’t try to knock the ice loose with a hammer or shovel. Forcefully breaking the ice dams will only cause damage to your gutters and roof.
  • No Salt: Also discard the thought of melting it with salt. Sodium chloride, or table salt, is extremely corrosive. It would wreak havoc on your roofing, siding, gutter, and downspouts sooner than it will melt the ice.
  • Blow in Cold Air: If you have an ice dam leaking back into your attic where it melts and causes water damage, you can quickly stop the water with a box fan. The fan will equalize the temperature between inside and outside, cooling the attic off and forcing the water to chill enough to freeze. It will stop the leak, but there will still be repairs before it’s fixed.

Related Topic: Snow Falls: Proper Snow and Ice Removal

Professional Gutter Cleaning Services

With the number of tasks that go into preparing for and maintaining your house through winter, it could easily be a full-time job. And you can be sure the snowstorms will wait for no one. If you need a hand keeping your gutters clear, we at the Grounds Guys are here to help. Give us a call or request a job estimate online.