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Ice Dams and Other Winter Worries

Winter is nearly here and that means if you haven’t prepared for the cold winter weather, it’s time to get moving.  Getting ready for winter is more than waxing your skis! Winter storms mean heavy snow and ice and if you’re not prepared, you could have some cold nights or sustain some costly damage to your home.   

Ice Dams

When a snowstorm hits, people get out their roof rakes to pull snow off their roofs, fearing the dreaded ice dam.  Ice dams can occur when snow collects on a roof and then begins to thaw and refreeze. Normally, the water from the snow would flow into the gutters and away from your house.  However, if your attic is poorly insulated, it can cause the snow to begin to melt even on below-freezing days and it begins to refreeze before it can flow through the gutters at the edge of the roof.  Here, the dam will continue to grow, backing up the melting snow until it finds a weak spot in your roof where it can get in, creating an expensive leak. Homes with cathedral ceilings often experience heat loss through the roof.

Ice dams can also originate in gutters, not from gutter guards causing buildup but by clogs due to unprotected gutters.  Leaves build up in the fall and cause clogs that will trap water and ice in the winter. In this case, there is often damage to the gutters, fascia, and soffits along with the leaky roof.

Some people believe that gutter guards are the reason for most ice dams but ice dams can form on the cold edge of your roof, even if you don’t have gutters.  Reverse-curve guards may cause water to freeze on top contributing to ice dams so if you live in an area where you get a lot of snow accumulating on your roof, sturdy microscreen aluminum gutter guard covers are a better choice.  They keep out leaves and debris and are sturdy enough to withstand heavy ice without buckling. Heated gutter guards are also available that melt snow and ice immediately to keep ice dams from starting.

The best way to fight ice dams is to make sure your roof is properly insulated and to have your gutters cleaned and inspected for any issues before winter.  It would also be a good time to have leaf protection installed so you don’t have to worry about clogs in the future.    

Other Worries

Other areas of your home should get some attention as part of your winter prep to avoid problems in the middle of winter.  

Inspect your roof.

Most roofs should last 20-25 years but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to replace a shingle or two along the way.  Before winter storms start rolling in, have your roof inspected for any loose shingles that might be further damaged by snow and ice and let moisture in.  

Have your furnace serviced.

Your furnace will be working overtime to keep you warm during the frigid nights.  Make sure filters are changed and your furnace is in good working order to avoid inconvenient breakdowns.  

Have Your Chimney Cleaned.

If you have a chimney, be sure to have it cleaned before use.  Creosote is highly flammable and should be removed along with any nests that may have been built in there since the last time you used it.  

Check Your Doors and Windows.

Your doors and windows are the main ways that cold air gets into your home in the winter.  Check to make sure they’re properly sealed and if they still feel drafty, consider plastic insulation for the windows and a door sweep on the door.

At Gutter Pros, we’d be happy to be part of your winterization process.   We can clean and inspect your gutters so when the snow begins to melt, your gutters do their job and keep ice dams from forming. We can also help you choose the right leaf protection to keep those clogs away.  At Gutter Pros, our trusted technicians are skilled in the installation and maintenance of copper gutters, as well as other types of gutters, leaf protection, and commercial gutters.  Call Gutter Pros today at (314) 656-7195 to make an appointment.