Gutter Ice Dams form when water is unable to leave the guttering system due to blockages and other debris. This in turn causes the water to sit in the gutters and with the onset of colder temperatures, the water will then turn into ice and at that point you are in a world of hurt. Preventing ice dams in your gutters is a simple task but the methods used will vary depending on what area of the country you live in and how severe your winter is.
In most areas in the middle to lower United States, making sure that you gutter have been cleaned out on a regular basis will be enough to insure that you will not have any issues with ice dams forming in your gutters. If your guttering is prone to collecting leaves, it is best to have it cleaned out a few times through-out the fall/winter to make sure that no debris is left in the gutters that could cause the downspouts from doing there job.
We suggest making sure your gutters are cleaned out once in late fall and once again in the middle of winter (during the occasional warm up periods). This way any debris that fell after the last cleaning will be taken care of and your guttering will be good to go throughout the rest of the winter.
If you live in the northern portion of the US, then you might have to take more drastic measures. The first step, like your southern neighbors, is to make sure you had your gutters and downspouts cleared out after the fall leaves have fallen and that you are positive that nothing was left in them. It is critical that the downspouts be tested and you know for a fact they are clear. A good way of doing this is by inserting a penny in them to see if it comes out at the bottom. If it comes out, you know they are clear and will do their job.
Once you know the gutters are clear, the next step is to do a few things to assure that your roofing will stay the proper temperature so that the rain/snow/ice will melt properly. You can do this in a few ways. You can make sure that you have soffit and attic vents and that they are working properly as this will allow enough air circulation to aid in making sure the moisture on your roof melts off properly.
Another thing you can do is to make sure that you have adequate insulation in your attic to assist in keeping the temperatures level in your home and in your attic. The last thing that you can consider doing is installing heated cords that will run on the roof line and enter your guttering so that it constantly supplies a heat source that will melt any ice. If you would like to read more on what you can do to prevent ice dams from forming, check out this article that we found.
No matter what you end up doing to solve your ice dam issue, the first thing you must consider is making sure your gutters are cleaned properly. If you are the DIY type, be safe and do a great job. If you prefer to hire out work like that, we would love to help. You can get a quote for gutter cleaning here and enjoy your weekend while we do the work.