The Danger of Ice Dams

Ice Dams

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a build-up of ice in a rain gutter that blocks water from flowing through the gutter and generally prevents a rain gutter from doing what it is designed to do.  The rain gutters on your house aren’t just there for decoration, they are there to do a very important job. That job involves taking all of the rainwater that hits your roof and directing it to a place where it won’t cause any damage.  

Water damage is nothing to laugh at, and you can easily end up with a repair bill in the range of several thousands of dollars or more. Hopefully, you are paying attention now since you should realize that your rain gutters are very important since they can help you to avoid any of these extremely costly repairs.

Now, getting back to the original issue, an ice dam is a build-up of ice that blocks water.  But it’s much more than that as well. It’s a sign that rain gutters are in a state of neglect, which should be a major red flag that helps you to realize that you need to start paying attention to them.  An ice dam is also dangerous, so if you are spurred to action then you should be acting quickly.

What Causes Ice Dams to Form?

An ice dam is an issue that is obviously a cold weather problem.  After all, you probably won’t have to worry about ice forming in your gutters in the middle of summer.  But, with winter approaching the time to start thinking about ice dams, what forms them, and what you can do to prevent them is now.  

Ice dams form when debris is allowed to build up in rain gutters, which then slows down or blocks the flow of water. When that water sits there for long enough, and temperatures drop below freezing, it will turn into ice and for a dam.  Over time more and more water will get trapped behind the dam, along with other debris, and the dam will continue to grow.

While water getting trapped in debris is what starts an ice dam, it’s what allows that debris to accumulate in the first place that is the underlying cause of the problem.  What causes that underlying debris to build up to a level where it causes problems? In a word, neglect. If you neglect your rain gutters and allow debris to build up in them, you are asking for trouble.  Even if you manage to avoid an ice dam, neglecting your rain gutters can lead to a host of other major problems that you should want nothing to do with.

Ice Dam Formation

What Are the Dangers of An Ice Dam?

An ice dam is actually one of the most dangerous types of gutter problems you can have.  Think about it for a minute, your rain gutters are quite a distance above the ground, right? This is especially true when you have a multi-story house.  So, when you have a large, hard, and heavy chunk of ice sitting in a thin gutter above people’s heads, this should obviously look like a dangerous situation to you.  The biggest danger associated with an ice dam is a total or partially collapsed rain gutter. If someone happens to be under that when it happens they could end up seriously injured.

From a financial standpoint, an ice dam represents a serious risk as well.  When an ice dam forms it will frequently lead to significant rain gutter damage.  Sometimes you’ll get lucky and only need to have your gutters repaired. Other times, however, you will end up having to replace an entire segment of your rain gutter system.  This can be especially expensive if you have custom made seamless gutters since you will have to pay an expert to not only fabricate a new segment of the gutter for you but also to fabricate one that matches the rest of your gutters.

On top of the risk of a catastrophic failure, an ice dam can also weaken the joints of a gutter, and gutter hangers, causing the gutters to droop.  If they droop then they could end up leaking, which could lead to water seeping into your house. Or water could end up pooling on the ground in front of your house, which can lead to foundation damage.  The point here is that ice dams are a significant danger and you need to do whatever you can to protect your rain gutters so you can avoid having to deal with them.

What Is the Best Way to Prevent an Ice Dam from Forming?

The most effective way of protecting your home from the danger of ice dams is to ensure that your rain gutters and downspouts are cleaned out on a regular basis.  Now, you could try to clean them out and inspect them on your own, but there are a number of reasons you probably don’t want to take on a job of this magnitude. First, it’s really hard work.  

There’s a reason that there are a lot of gutter cleaning companies in business, and that’s because cleaning gutters is nobody’s idea of a good time. It’s time-consuming, disgusting, and very physically demanding work.  If you do decide to try to clean your gutters yourself, you’ll probably end up doing a very poor job since you will be focused on just getting it done as quickly as possible.

When you take the approach of just trying to get a job done for the sake of having it done, there’s no way you will be thorough and careful enough to properly clean your gutters.  That means you are going to miss things. You are going to leave behind little bits of debris here and there. You won’t properly spray out your gutters and downspouts.

On top of all of that, you also will probably be armed with equipment that falls well short of what professionals use.  All of this will add up to a poorly executed gutter cleaning job. At best you will have to deal with getting your gutters cleaned again in the near future since the job wasn’t done right this time. At worst, you will make a mistake that causes your gutters to fail and need replacing.

If you really want to reduce the chances that you are going to end up having to deal with an ice dam the only way to accomplish this is by hiring a professional gutter cleaning company to come out and clean and inspect your rain gutters and downspouts at least twice a year.  Ideally, you will have a gutter cleaner come out and inspect your gutters prior to the onset of winter just to ensure that you don’t have debris built up anywhere in your gutters that could end up causing an ice dam to form.

In addition to cleaning out your gutters, a professional will also take the time to inspect them while them as they are cleaning them.  This will enable them to spot little problem areas that the average person wouldn’t be able to spot.

These are exactly the kinds of problems that you are going to miss when you are in a hurry and trying to get your gutters cleaned quickly.  Spotting small problems is very important because small problems inevitably become big problems. When that happens, you could be looking at some very expensive repairs being necessary.

Gutter Guards Are Not A Solution

Many people make the mistake of having gutter guards installed on their homes thinking that they will eliminate the need to have their gutters cleaned and that they will also eliminate the risk of an ice dam forming.  Unfortunately, people who are under this impression are mistaken. The truth is that gutter guards do not eliminate the need to have your rain gutters cleaned no a regular basis. Because gutter guards can hide the signs that you have a problem, like a blockage, they can actually increase the odds of an ice dam forming.

If you have already spent money having gutter guards installed then the best thing you can do is have them removed.  At this point, this is a sunk cost, so it’s better to cut your losses now. If you decide to keep your gutter guards they are only going to end up costing you more money in the long run.  

Gutter guards cause a gutter cleaning company to have to do extra work since they have to be removed and re-installed every time your gutters are cleaned. Since they also increase the odds of an ice dam forming, it should be clear that gutter guards are not the answer you were hoping that they were.

Choosing the Right Gutter Cleaning Company

Obviously, you need to hire a gutter cleaning company in order to take care of your gutters and protect your home from water damage.  But you don’t want to hire just any gutter cleaning company, you need a gutter cleaning company that you can trust. You need an experienced company that has a history of outstanding customer service.  You need a company that his licensed, bonded, and insured so that you are covered in the event of any kind of accident.

How do you find a company that meets these requirements? It’s simple, you do your homework.  You just go online, do a little research, and find a reputable gutter cleaning company that is properly licensed and insured.  Spending the time making sure a company meets these qualifications is well worth it because it will ensure that you find a company that you can trust with an important part of your home’s regular maintenance.

The main reason that most people will give when asked why they don’t hire a gutter cleaning company is wanting to avoid the expense.  When you think about it, this is a terrible way to try to save money. First of all, gutter cleaning is inexpensive, so even if you skip paying to have it done you’ll be saving a few hundred dollars a year at most.  

Second, gutter cleaning is a necessary part of home maintenance. Without regular cleaning rain, gutters get clogged, which will lead to a lot of other problems. From failing gutters that need to be replaced, to gutters that allow water to damage your home, the problems that arise from gutter neglect are numerous.

Ice Dam Prevention

Hiring We Get Gutters™ Is Your Best Option

If you really don’t have the time to spend searching for a gutter cleaning company that you can trust, there’s an alternative approach you should consider.  That approach couldn’t be simpler, you just contact We Get Gutters™ . We Get Gutters is a professional gutter cleaning company that is licensed, bonded, and insured.  They employ technicians that are experts at what they do, and these experts are provided with the best tools and equipment in the industry.

If you’ve decided you are interested in hiring We Get Gutters to clean and inspect your rain gutters and downspouts, they’ve made the process as simple as possible.  You don’t need to call them and sit on hold or spend time providing information to one of their employees. Instead, you can go to their website, provide some basic information, and then be given an accurate quote.  That’s all there is to it.

At We Get Gutters they take what they do seriously.  They understand how important the rain gutters on your house are.  They also understand just how dangerous an ice dam is and how much damage it can cause to your home.  If you are concerned about the possibility of an ice dam forming in your gutters the only way to alleviate those concerns is to eliminate the conditions that lead to the formation of an ice dam.  That means you need to hire someone that you can trust to clean and inspect your rain gutters, which means that you need We Get Gutters™.