Those large, glistening icicles hanging from rooftops can create beautiful winter scenes, but their beauty belies their message: Your house has some breathing or ventilation issues.
Icicles are formed when ice dams occur along the eaves of your roof. Ice dams are caused from the under layer of snow that starts to melt when heat leaks from your attic. When those drips of snow move down and meet the cold air along the eaves of your roof, they form a dam of ice. As snow continues to melt, those drips are added to the ice dam and can become some perilous-looking icicles.
Not only are they a threat overhead, but the ice dam feeding them also can cause water to back up under shingles or cause leaks in ceilings or walls.
Gutter guards will not create or prevent Ice problems. Free flowing gutters will prevent standing water from freezing but in most conditions water will freeze as soon as a heat source is removed.
In all cases, these recommendations should be followed to minimize ice buildup on roof, in gutters, on gutter cover or on the outside of gutters.
Here are some steps to preventing icicles from forming.
- Improve attic insulation. Insulate your attic to the proper level (refer to manufacturer’s recommended amount). Proper insulation will allow your attic to be the same temperature as the outside air and will help maintain a better temperature inside your home. Ridge vents and soffit vents allow air to circulate, which keeps the air temperature inside your attic at a balanced level to help prevent ice dams from forming.
- Seal leaks around fireplace flues, chimneys, and air-outtake vents. If you have warm air leaking from your heat source, such as your chimney or flue, that heat is going to warm the underside of your roof and that’s what you’re trying to avoid. Kitchen vents or dryer vents will do the same — and they’ll add detrimental moisture in your attic — so be sure those vents exhaust to the outdoors and not into your attic.
- Make sure your attic is well-ventilated. You have to insulate your attic well, but don’t cover the soffit vents or ridge vents created to allow cool air into your attic.
- Clean gutters before and between snowfall.* Keeping your gutters free of debris will help prevent ice dams from building up. When you prevent ice dams, you prevent icicles.
- Use a roof rake to remove snow a few feet from the eaves.* this is a special rake designed to remove snow from roof edges while you remain standing on the ground. It is only to help prevent the buildup of ice dams and should be used cautiously so as not to damage roof shingles or gutters.
Heat from the sun also plays a role in snow melting off your roof, so some icicle formations can’t be eliminated. Century Home Improvements can give you the proper roof and attic treatments necessary to avoid those large, damaging icicles and maintain safety overhead.
*NOTE: if your roof or gutters are too high, do not attempt to scale or inspect them yourself; this can be dangerous and even deadly. Call a professional.