How to prevent icicles from forming in gutters

Winter comes with many challenges to your home. The most profound impact is on the roof and gutters as they are your first line of defense against all that winter snow and ensuing icicles.

The combined weight of snow and icicles accumulating on your gutters can tear the gutters of their supporting struts. This will not only leave you with a repair bill come spring but can also be a safety hazard in case the icicles and snow falls on your loved ones.

Why do I get icicles on my gutters?

High attic temperature makes the lower section of the snow on your roof to melt. This causes a significant runoff that trickles down to your gutters.  Since the surrounding temperatures are still low and the gutters are heated by the attic, the water will re-freeze forming ice.

With time, these ice deposits get thicker forming a dam that prevents the roof water runoff. The cycle repeats itself as long as your attic is warming the roof, there’s snow on the roof and the temperatures outside are below zero.

Should you break icicles off your gutters?

Yes. You can break icicles off your gutters. This is a short term solution that prevents very large icicles from forming. However, you should focus more on making the conditions unfavorable for icicle formation. This will leave you with fewer to no icicles to break off the gutters in the first place.

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How do you get rid of icicles?

There are two approaches to this problem, short term, and long-term.

Knock them off with a rake or pole (short term)

In the short term, mechanical removal would do the job. Use a gutter rake to remove the icicles, but pay attention to safety so that the ice blocks don’t fall on you.

Use gutter heaters (long term)

The use of gutter heaters to prevent ice dams has been used for a while and works well since it ensures the liquid is maintained and flows of the drain. However, it is economically since you need power to generate heat. it’s not a good idea if you are keen on reducing your utility bills.

Tame the heat buildup in your attic (long term)

The best ice dam remedies lie in taming the heating up of your attic by using better insulation and aeration vents to improve attic air circulation. This will drastically reduce the chances of ice dams forming on your gutters.

It should be done after the physical removal or before the onset of winter. Have a professional visually inspect your attic insulation and replace any damaged sections – assuming your attic is insulated in the first place.

However, insulation never guarantees 100% protection It should be used in conjunction with other methods like ventilating the attic. Ventilation ensures that the heated air from your house escapes before it heats up your roof.

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Are icicles signs of poor insulation?

Yes and no. While attic and roof insulation can drastically reduce their formation, icicles don’t necessarily mean your attic isn’t adequately insulated. Other factors like attic and eaves ventilation, slop of the roof, house design, and type of gutters can also accelerate icicle formation even on a well insulated home.

Icicle prevention tricks vary depending on the design of your home. While the attic is a key contributor to icicle formation, its worthy of note that your kitchen chimney may play a role due to the rise in heated air. Also, if your dryer vent comes out under the roof, you are likely to have more icicles in your gutters. You can easily cushion yourself from those troublesome icicles by reducing heat going up to either your attic or roof by leveraging insulation, fixture redesigning and ventilation.