If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern portion of the United States, you know each winter season brings harsh and potentially damaging snowfalls, ice storms and freezing rain. Extreme winter weather can shut down your community and leave you without power or access to roads. Another damaging but often overlooked result of extreme winter weather is gutter damage from heavy snowfalls and ice dams. Ice dams form in the winter and are a potential menace that may require you to replace your home’s gutters in the springtime.¬†Checkout effects of climate changes to gutters for more info.

How does an ice dam form?

An ice dam forms when the snow that accumulates on your roof begins to melt from the bottom up. Heat escaping from your roof melts the lower layer of the snow while sub-freezing air temperatures keep the top layer frozen. Water then drains down to your gutters and, upon touching your frozen rain gutters, freezes instead of properly draining down your downspouts. The frozen runoff fills the gutter, seals off the down spouts, and forms an ice dam. An ice dam will contract and expand as temperatures change, damaging your gutters and, in worst case scenarios, rendering your gutters inoperable. As the ice dam slowly thaws and melts, water can seep beneath your shingles, tar paper, and eventually into the supporting plywood, wreaking havoc with your roof, fascia, and soffit. So replacing your gutters may just be part of the problem caused by ice dams – you may be looking at damage to your home’s walls and foundation.

Another potential problem to consider is the strain that just one snowfall can put on your home’s gutters. Even gutters that are adequately installed, using the proper materials and size for your region, can succumb to the weight of snow and ice, and break off the side of your house, or become damaged to the point where they no longer function properly.

To prepare your home’s gutters for winter make sure they are routinely cleaned out and that you have adequate insulation beneath your roof. An improperly insulated roof will allow heat to seep out, increasing the chance of ice dams forming in your gutters. A clogged gutter with leaves and other debris will accelerate the creation of damaging ice dams. If cleaning your gutters is too difficult, dangerous or time consuming, consider investing in a gutter protection system. A gutter protection system will keep leaves and other debris from getting into your gutters in the first place.

Unlike do-it-yourself gutter mesh and gutter filters, gutter systems are installed professionally to ensure that your home’s rain gutters never clog. Gutter protection systems with sturdy bracketing can also reinforce your gutters from heavy snow loads, giving you extra piece of mind during those notorious blizzards that have become so commonplace in the Northeast corridor most commonly referred to as “Snowmageddon”.

Don’t fall victim to poor preparation this winter. Follow these easy steps to protect your greatest investment, your home. Make sure your home is prepared for heavy snow falls. Clean your gutters. Ensure that you have good insulation for your roof. Consider investing in a long term solution by purchasing a gutter protection system that will prevent ice dams and keep your home’s gutters from caving under the pressure of heavy snow.