Q&A / 

Gutter Guard Systems and Icicles

icicles hanging

Here are some icicles hanging from the edge of a roof. The meltwater flash freezes at the edge because the air temperature is far below 32 F. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Original Publish Date: December - 2010

Gutter Guard Ice is Impossible To Stop

Gutter guard ice is nearly impossible to avoid. Super-chilled snow meltwater flows under the snow pack and then contacts the below-freezing aluminum gutter guard. It then flash freezes. More water coming down the roof creates giant icicles. The only way to stop the ice is to remove the snow - the source of the water that creates the icicles.

DEAR TIM: After watching your review of the gutter guard on your home and getting several references in my local area, I had the product installed. It was installed over my existing gutters.

With the latest snow and cold weather, I now have icicles along my gutters. We never had this problem before the gutter guards. Please advise us before we create roof leaks. Lea Ann B., St. Louis, MO

Free & Fast Bids

CLICK HERE for FREE & FAST BIDS from local gutter guard companies that can install micromesh guards. That's what covers my gutters.

DEAR LEA ANN: Icicles on gutter guards are a very common complaint. I'm willing to bet you had the problem before to a slight degree, but you just didn't realize it. Before you installed the gutter guards, meltwater would come down your roof and contact the cold gutter.

I'm willing to bet that for years you had ice building up inside the gutter, but couldn't see it from the ground. The only way you would see it would be if the ice completely filled the gutter and then started to create the icicles you now see on top of the gutter courtesy of the new gutter guard.

icicles on gutter

Icicles hanging from gutters that have gutter guards installed. PHOTO CREDIT: Lea Ann Baker

Super-Chilled Meltwater Freezes On Your Gutter Guard

Here's what's happening. The aluminum and stainless steel metals that make up the gutter guard get cold quickly. Because they are at the end of the roof, and in your case, hanging out away from the house, they can't get any warmth from the house.

Thin insulation where the roof passes over the outside wall, inadequate insulation over the entire ceiling of the house, sunlight, air temperatures above 32 F all contribute to the snowpack on the roof melting. This water is chilled to 32 F or below in most cases as it's flowing just under the snowpack.

This water can be below 32 F in certain situations and still liquid because it's moving. That happens all the time in the lake outside my house and in the stream that runs across my land. I've actually taken the temperature of the moving water and it's in the mid to low 20 F range but still liquid!

When that super-chilled water hits the cold gutter guard it immediately freezes. If the water flow down the roof is substantial, it doesn't take long for a significant ice dam to form.

icicles

Here are big icicles. It's simple physics. The only way to STOP them is to remove the snow from your roof. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Two Choices to STOP Leaks & Icicles on Gutter Guards

To stop leaks from ice dams you have two choices. You can install an ice and water shield under the shingles on the lower 3 to 6 feet of your roof. The lower the slope of your roof, the higher up the roof this membrane must extend.

The second option is to starve the ice dams of their food supply. This means you have to use a snow rake and pull the snow off the roof. This is not easy.

You may not have to get all the snow off the roof. You might be able to clear at 10 or 12-foot swath across your roof. The meltwater from the snow far above might evaporate as it travels across the bare shingles in the sunlight. You'll have to experiment.

This area of no snow works pretty well on sunny days to get the melting water to evaporate on the surprisingly hot shingles as it tries to make its way down to the gutters. I see that happen on my own roof all the time here in New Hampshire.

Consider purchasing a micromesh product from Amazon.com and having your local handyman install them for you. CLICK the photo below for just one of the micromesh products I discovered on Amazon:

There are many micromesh gutter guard products. You can save LOTS of money putting them on yourself. CLICK HERE or THE IMAGE to see how low-cost they can be.

 

CLICK HERE for FREE & FAST BIDS from local gutter guard companies that can install micromesh guards. That's what covers my gutters.

 

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6 Responses to Gutter Guard Systems and Icicles

  1. Tim we are now able to heat MS with a 5 watt cable plugged into an outside outlet and eliminate Ice on the gutter guard. Is not a perfect solution (my price installed $5 a foot) since you have to heat up a down and over to the door or opening you wish to keep ice free. Am currently working on including a new German super glue to make installation a no brainer. Since this is not a heavy duty heat cable the thermostat driven device must be left on constantly. 80 feet=400 watts,

  2. Tim,
    Radiant barrier works great. Using a staple hammer I installed it on the inside of the roof (on the rafters). Our insulation is on the floor of the attic. House was originally built in 1959. Not only did our summer electric bills plummet but we have never has the ice damning which is seen in adjacent homes.
    Thanks for the video,
    Rob

  3. I added additional insulation to my attic in 2013 (no icicles before or after added insulation). In 2015 I installed a new roof (with appropriate ice and water shield) and new gutters in 2015 along with gutter shields along the back of my house. Now I have icicles along the back of the house.

    Roof install included a ridge vent so I am confident that venting is not the issue. The only discernible problem is the gutter guards.

  4. Kay,
    Don't be so confident about the ridge vent. Ours melted in the summer sun and compressed, allowing no ventilation. We installed fans with thermostats to self regulate heat/humidity to solve the issue. I am reading this web page because we installed metal gutter covers last summer, and now have horrendous icicles. I fear we are stuck with this situation all winter!

    • I am not so concerned about the icicles except over my steps and back door. They drip and form ice on the steps and walk. What is the best solution to care for this?

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