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Ice Dams 101: What Are They, Causes, How To Prevent in Gutters, Etc.

December 16, 2022
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Ice Dams 101: What Are They, What Causes Them, And How To Prevent Them In Your Gutters In Salt Lake City, UT

What You Need To Know To Protect Your Investment

Winter can be a beautiful time in Salt Lake City, UT, with icicles twinkling in the lights and snow falling in the yard. Most of us don’t stop and think about it, but those icicles can be more significant than just a pretty sight. When there’s ice buildup behind them in the gutters, it can lead to severe problems for your home – ice dams can wreak havoc on a structure.

Ice dams can be disastrous for homeowners in our area, leading to massive repairs.

If you don’t know what an ice dam is, you won’t know what signs to look for when inspecting your home during the winter. Here at RGS Exteriors, we’ve designed this ultimate guide to ice dams to help you understand what they are, how they’re caused, and what you can do to prevent them in your gutters.


What Is An Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a thick buildup of ice that forms at the edge of your roof, called the eaves, or in your gutters. At its worst, it can fully fill your gutters, completely blocking any snowmelt or rain from entering them. This blockage holds the water in place on your roof, which can lead to more severe problems.

Despite all the protective layers that make up your roof, with all that standing water, some of it can seep underneath the shingles, eventually making its way inside your home. This can lead to wet spots on your exterior walls and ceiling. If this happens, you’ll need to repair your roof and possibly do extensive indoor repairs.

Inside your attic, your insulation will become soggy, which means it will lose its ability to do its job. You’ll begin losing heat out of your attic, and the material will become a mold and mildew magnet, which is very bad for your family’s health. 

The gutters that you work so hard to maintain could be severely damaged. Individual parts of the gutter system could be destroyed, or the whole system could be torn off the side of your house. The weight of the ice may be too much for the gutters to maintain. Once this happens, you’ll need a brand new gutter installation.

What Causes Ice Dams?

Ice dams are created when the air outside is colder than the air inside your attic. When there’s snow on your roof and your attic is not insulated correctly, heat rises and melts the snow. The meltwater then flows down the roof toward the eaves or gutters. Once it reaches that endpoint, the air around the water is at the same temperature – freezing.

The water begins refreezing, but this time instead of snow, it turns to ice. Eventually, there will be so much ice that no more water will be added to the ice dam, and it will begin to pool above it.

When your gutters are blocked, it worsens the effect. The leaves and debris slow down the water, allowing it to freeze more efficiently. Similarly, an ice dam can also develop in blocked gutters when it rains during freezing conditions.

How To Prevent Ice Dams In Your Gutters

Preparing your gutters before winter goes a long way toward preventing ice dams. Having them free and clear allows the water to flow with less chance of freezing in place. Additionally, when it snows, it’s a best practice to rake the snow from your roof to reduce the amount of snowmelt that flows down your roof to refreeze.

Having your insulation replaced in your attic is another option. Not only will it help with your ice dam problem, but it will help save you money on your energy bills.

One of the most efficient ways to prevent ice dams is installing an heat cable system. While homeowners often can solve their problems by replacing their insulation, it’s not a guaranteed

For All Your Ice Dam Prevention Needs In Salt Lake City, UT, Reach Out To RGS Exteriors

Don’t take a risk this winter with the Utah gutters on your Salt Lake City, UT, home. Reach out to a professional who knows how to stop ice dams before they start.

Here at RGS Exteriors, we obsess over every last detail, aiming for perfection on every project. We’ll install your heat cable system with precision, so you never have to worry about ice dams again.

Call us today at (801) 997-6616 to schedule your free estimate.