Gutter Guard Systems and Icicles
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
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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.
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.
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: