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Could Your Gutter Guards Cause Ice Dams?

Ice dams are a major problem for homeowners in cold environments.

Here in South Central Montana, we see homeowners every year who end up having to make costly repairs to their property because of water damage that was caused by ice dams. This is especially common in mild winters with a lot of freeze-and-thaw patterns.

One of the best ways to avoid water damage during the winter is to protect your home from ice dams. However, it’s important to understand what ice dams are, how they are formed, what kind of damage they cause, and how you can prevent and get rid of them.

ice dams occurs

What Are Ice Dams, Exactly?

An ice dam occurs when ice forms along the edges of a roof, including in gutters. These icy barriers prevent melting snow and ice from properly draining off of the roof. This creates water damage because the water has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it often ends up going into the home, damaging ceilings, insulation, walls, flooring, and more.

Water damage is a frustrating reality for homeowners because it doesn’t just create a wet mess. It also presents issues of mold and mildew. It is important to work with disaster restoration professionals any time you have major water damage in your home.

What Causes an Ice Dam?

Ice dams can be caused by a few different factors. You could be facing an ice dam risk with snow on the roof and fluctuating temperatures above and below freezing. Some circumstances are riskier than others.

Uniform temperature issues

One big issue is having a roof that is not uniform in its temperature. Once the roof warms up to above 32 degrees, the snow will begin to melt. However, it’s not uncommon for poor insulation to cause the higher parts of the roof to be warmer, whereas the lower parts are still cold. That means that the snow and ice along the roofline and in the gutters may stay below 32 degrees. If this happens, you will probably get an ice dam.

The snow on the roof will start melting and flowing down off the sloped roof and then have nowhere to go when it hits the ice.

The best way to avoid this issue is to make sure that your roof is well insulated.

Ineffective gutter guards

Gutter guards, designed to block leaves and sticks from collecting in their gutters, don’t automatically cause ice dams.

But if they are ineffective, old, or poorly installed, there is reason to be concerned. That’s because weak gutter guards can buckle under the weight of ice and then prevent proper drainage through the gutters.

How Can I Get Rid of an Ice Dam?

If you weren’t able to prevent an ice dam from occurring, you’ll want to get rid of the dam as quickly and effectively as possible

Many homeowners use chemical-based roof melters, which can be applied before or after the ice dam forms. If you are tempted to put rock salt on your roof to melt the ice, please don’t! Rock salt can cause significant damage to your roof. However, many chemical de-icers are designed to be used on roofs and can be safely used on your roof.

You can also rake the snow off of your roof to ensure that the water doesn’t start seeping into the home as it melts before the ice dam does. Please exercise caution any time you get onto your roof, especially during winter.

What if I Experience Damage to My Home Because of an Ice Dam?

First, we are sorry that you may be here because you have already experienced damage to your home because of an ice dam. If you are worried about water damage in winter, we understand your concerns. It can be a source of great stress to have water coming into your home and possibly leaving behind damaged walls, ceilings, furniture, flooring, and more. Worries about mold and mildew growing where the water damage occurred are also completely legitimate.

We Are Here to Help!

If you live in Billings, Laurel, Red Lodge, or a surrounding Montana town and have experienced water damage, contact us today! We are a trusted disaster restoration contractor, and we have helped countless homeowners fix the damage that they have incurred due to ice dams and winter flooding.

At Alpha Omega, we can help you understand the scope of the damage and create the best plan to get your home fully restored!

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