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How to Properly Clean Your Gutters to Avoid Ice Dams this Winter

Posted: in Residential , Commercial

A homeowner tries to clean their gutters after an ice dam has formed on their roof in the winter. Roofs are designed to last for decades and protect your home for as long as 50 years. However, some natural elements, such as storms, snowfall, ice, hail, and strong winds can affect the roof’s structural soundness. Since these events are more frequent during the colder months of the year, winter-proofing your roof is paramount. And, preventing ice dams is an important part of your winter roof maintenance. 

Don’t fall for their appearance - ice dams are deceptively pretty, but they can cause irreversible, long-lasting damage to your roof and house structure! Learn how to keep your roof’s gutters clean and prevent ice dams in this guide by the Sherriff Goslin roofing experts.

Ice Dams and the Damage They Can Cause

Ice dams are those ice popsicles that hang from your gutters and complete your home’s magical winter look. However, ice dams are extremely damaging - for your roof and your entire building’s structure alike. These ice formations appear when heat loss from the house melts with the snow setting on your roof, and low outside temperatures contribute to freezing this newly melted snow.

These ice dams will continue to grow because of the freezing temperatures and stagnant water. As this happens, water will seep underneath the roof shingles and into your home. In turn, this causes severe damage, including:

  • Torn gutters and fascia
  • Loose shingles
  • Water infiltration and interior water leaks
  • Mold issues
  • Peeling paint

Investing in a preventive roof inspection before winter comes can help you winter-proof your roof and avoid ice dams.

Why Is It Important To Clean Gutters To Prevent Ice Dams?

In most cases, ice dams are not directly caused by gutters. What does cause and worsen ice dams is stagnant, slow-draining water that freezes easily. Since gutters play a key role in concentrating water and draining it away, they can create a vulnerable area where ice dams might develop. By cleaning your gutters, you can prevent clogs and standing water that can turn small ice popsicles into large, damaging ice dams. Here’s how!

How To Care for Your Roof’s Gutters To Prevent Ice Dams

The best way to take care of your roof and gutters and get the whole structure ready for winter is to partner with the roof maintenance experts at Sherriff Goslin Roofing. However, there is a lot that you can do to prevent the formation of ice dams on your roof:

  • Inspect and prepare your gutters before winter - ideally, you should clean your gutters twice a year, in spring and before winter. This is because falling leaves and debris are more likely to clog your gutters during these seasons. 
  • Get rid of leaves and debris - leaves and debris that set in your gutters before winter can contribute to clogging and standing water. Make sure you are comfortable with a ladder or use an extendable gutter cleaner for this project. 
  • Beware of mold and algae - mold and algae can grow in the gutters due to humidity, standing water, and debris. This can affect the gutters’ protective layer and cause them to remain wet at all times. You can clean your gutters with a bleach-based household cleaning product.
  • Find (and fix!) leaks - leaks in your gutters can contribute to ice dam formations because they slow down the water draining rate. 
  • Use heated cables - heated cables can be attached along the roof’s edge before winter comes. Once in place, heated cables reduce the temperature difference between the two sides of the roof, thus preventing ice dams. 

Look for a Permanent Solution

If you live in a climate area often subjected to snowfall and freezing temperatures, you might consider a permanent solution to ice dams. For example, you might consider adding insulation, improving interior ventilation, and adding a warmer layer on the roof’s underside. Speak to a contractor to find the most suitable solution. 

Work with Roofing Experts to Ensure Your Roof is Safe for the Winter

Ice dams aren’t fun for any homeowner. Keeping on top of your roof’s maintenance needs and having it regularly inspected by professionals will help to ensure everything stays safe and dry this winter. The roofing experts at Sherriff Goslin Roofing can help you by giving your home a thorough roof inspection to make sure you are prepared. Give our team a call today.