How to Deal with Ice Dams in Your Gutters

If you live in an area where snow falls each winter and the temperature dips below freezing this time of year, chances are you may have to deal with ice dams at some point. Not sure what ice dams are? It’s when ice builds up in your gutters forming a dam that prevents water from flowing off your roof and forcing it to find other places to go – likely inside of your home.

What makes me an expert on ice dams? Well, let’s just say I’ve felt their wrath this past winter and have exhausted all avenues to try and deal with them.

The biggest issue with ice dams is that because water can’t flow off of your roof it finds any crack or crevice to go in which often causes leaks in your home’s ceilings, water to flow from windows and even the insides of your walls. I’ve experienced all three this past month and it is zero fun. Zero fun.

To help you avoid my own painful homeowner experience here are some questions and answers to consider when winter wields its frostiness at your home’s gutters.

How do I know if I have ice dams?
Easiest way to tell is if you look up at your gutters and see a string of icicles hanging off them. While they look picturesque, this is a tell-tale sign that ice dams might be a problem.

How do I prevent ice dams from forming?
There are a couple of things you can do. Some are easy. Some take some preparation:

  1. Clean your gutters – gutters with leaves or debris in it freeze faster than clean gutters.
  2. Insulate your attic – ice dams can form faster when your attic isn’t well insulated and the roof actually melts the snow faster than the snow in your gutters. A properly insulated attic can help with that and also keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  3. Check the age of your gutters – a lot of newer gutters have built-in measures to help avoid ice dams from forcing water to flow back into your home. If you have gutters that are 20+ years old, you may want to consider updating them if ice dams continue to be a problem for you each winter.

I have ice dams! What can I do?

  1. Fill a tube sock with rock salt and lay it across the ice dam so a part of it hangs off the gutter. What this hopefully does is form an avenue for water to flow off the roof.
  2. DO NOT try and chip the ice away. You will likely ruin your gutters or worse your roof.
  3. If water is coming in your home at a particular spot and there’s an attic above where it’s leaking, try taking a box fan into your attic and having it blow air at the point where it is leaking. The cool air can freeze the leaking water if it’s cold enough outside. Not a guarantee that it will work but worth a try if you’re desperate.
  4. If you …read more

    Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


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