How to Prevent Ice Dams in Gutters

How to Prevent Ice Dams in Gutters

By Jaimie Zinski, eHow Contributor
updated: June 1, 2010

One of the most common problems that homeowners face in the winter are ice dams. Ice dams are collections of large, hanging ice formations that occur when melting snow refreezes at the edge of the roof. This can cause the gutters to break under the overwhelming weight of the ice. Ice dams can also damage shingles, peel paint from the exterior of a home and cause water damage in the home's attic. Installing insulation and cleaning out the gutter system are two ways to prevent ice dams from forming.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You'll Need:

  • Insulation
  • Ventilation system
  • Weather stripping
  • Caulk
  • Spray foam
  1. Install insulation in the attic of the home. The insulation can be manufactured from cellulose or fiberglass and can either be attached to the attic's framing or sprayed directly into the space between the framing and the attic's roof. Sheets of insulation should be at least 12 inches thick and run continuously throughout the entire attic. The insulation will help trap the heat inside the home, which will keep the snow on the roof from refreezing and making ice dams.

  2. Install a ventilation system to help keep the attic cooler during the winter. Some types are a soffit-to-ridge ventilation system, roof vents, power vents and gable louvers. Install insulation baffles to help protect the insulation from the cool air that enters the attic through these ventilation options.

  3. Avoid placing water heaters or other equipment of a mechanical nature inside the attic. These can produce heat and moisture that can melt the snow on the roof, which can lead to ice dams.

  4. Keep the gutters free of leaves and other obstructions. This can help keep the water from pooling in the gutters, which will freeze and cause the ice dams.

  5. Patch any holes or penetrations in the roof or the upper wall of the attic with weather stripping, caulk or spray foam. These areas of potential air leakage can be caused by ceiling fixtures, chimneys, wiring or plumbing, leading to heat loss

Read more: How to Prevent Ice Dams in Gutters |
Kim McConnell

Kim McConnell

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