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Is Your Leaf Protection Causing Ice Dams?

Ah, winter.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  The holidays, a fresh blanket of snow, a warm, a cozy fire…

Unfortunately, all of this wonderfulness of winter also brings with the scourge of every person who owns a home―the dreaded ice dam.  The fear of ice dams cause homeowners to run outside after every storm to rake the snow off the edge of the roof because, as everyone knows, snow builds up on your gutter guards causing ice to form along the edge and form dams, right?


Gutters and gutter guards do not cause ice dams.  What does? In a word, roofs.  Poorly-insulated roofs, more specifically, are the real culprit.  The heat from your home escapes through the roof and melts the snow.  When it runs down and reaches the edge where there is no warm roof beneath it, the water refreezes.  As this happens, a dam gradually forms, and grows as more and more snow melts and freezes again. The real damage happens as the ice builds up and pushes against the roof shingles, finding a weak spot and getting underneath where it begins to melt and leak into your home.  

Your gutters are not completely innocent when it comes to the formation of ice dams, however.  Gutters that are clogged with leaves and debris cause water to sit in your gutters instead of draining out as it should.  This stagnant water freezes, contributing to the formation of ice dams. Your gutters may cause larger ice dams than if you had no gutters, but you’d still have ice dams.  

One problem that sometimes occurs with your leaf protection is buckling.  If they’re not strong enough, they can bend or break. Microscreen aluminum gutter guards hold up well against snow and ice.  Snow can easily be raked off them and once the sun hits them, the ice should melt off and drain away.

Fixing the Problem

Fixing the problem of ice dams should begin in your attic.  Make sure that it is fully insulated―even a small area of poorly-insulated attic can cause heat loss/melting.  The good news is that once your roof is sufficiently insulated to prevent heat loss and ice dams, you’ll save money on heating costs too!

Having your gutters professionally cleaned will help lessen ice dams, as well as cause other damage to your home such as foundation cracks, landscape problems, and broken gutters.  Professional gutter companies, such as GutterPros, can clean and inspect your gutters and gutter guards regularly so you know they’re always in working order.

Don’t throw out that roof rake!  If you have a problem with ice dams, raking your roof after a storm can certainly help.  If there’s no snow, it can’t melt!

If an ice dam forms, you can melt it by filling an old nylon stocking with calcium chloride (not rock salt or sodium chloride which will cause damage to your roof), tie a knot in the end, and put it on your roof across the dam vertically.

So don’t be afraid of leaf protection.  Gutter guards are an important addition to your gutters by keeping leaves and other debris from clogging them and contributing to your ice dam problem.

GutterPros is a full-service gutter company that specializes in commercial gutters, copper gutters, and leaf protection.  Call Gutter Pros at (314) 656-7195 and schedule an appointment today.