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Old 12-09-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


Our house is in an area that gets heavy snow; great lakes snowbelt, so think 200"+ in a bad year. Despite a steep roof pitch on our cape-cod style home, we've had intermittent leaks on the south-facing upstairs dormer for a long time. It finally got so bad last year (and we were sick of repairing the plaster, repainting, etc), that we had all four 1940s windows replaced (with new-construction-type, not cheap replacement windows), the whole old roof stripped off, plenty of ice-guard put in place, and a new roof put on. Thought we were set.

We were not set. We just had the first heavy snowfall of the year -- there's over three feet of snow on the roof right now, 18"+ more expected by next Tuesday -- and both sets of windows have started leaking like a sieve. Water drips along the whole top of the window, both where the window meets the wood framing it shipped attached to, and the seam where that framing meets the framing on the inside wall.

The gutter along the dormer is apparently to blame? It is mounted to the flashing an inch below the roof line. It is filled over the top with ice and when I chipped it out and cleared some of it with boiling water, the leak ceased. However, it just froze over again at night and started again.

The pitch of the gutter is fine, I think it just fills with snow too fast and freezes. The downspout is solid ice inside.

We're at a loss at how to fix it. The contractor doesn't really seem to know what to do, although he suggests putting one of those wire heating systems up, zig zagging it along the roofline such that the loops dangle down into the gutter too, and run some wire down the downspout to keep it open. I've heard those things don't really work too well.

Is there anything else we can do? What we can't do is live with it. Winter is just starting and the cold and snow may last until mid April. Already collected a couple of gallons of water in the past 48 hours.

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Old 12-09-2010, 10:55 PM   #2
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


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I've heard those things don't really work too well.
You've heard wrong, decent heat tape installed properly is exactly what you need. Installed just as you described.

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Old 12-10-2010, 07:25 AM   #3
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


I was on a repair Tuesday at an Doctors office, there's a section of roof with a lower slope coming off the main roof and their having water/ice dam issues.

I checked the roof, it has 100% grace ice & water shield on the entire deck and laps down over the fascia covering.
I checked the eave flashing, it's installed properly.
I checked the gutter, all good.
So the ice dam is causing water to wick around & back under the gutter,
traveling back across the soffets and making it's way behind the vinyl siding and leaking through the wall rather than the roof.

Solution, heat tape installed across the roofs eave, through the gutters themselves and down through the down spouts.

Should add, I'm not the installer of the roof trying to make excuses,
I simply have the contract to maintain the exterior of the building since this past July/August.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:19 AM   #4
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


200 inches - wow, you must be in buffalo

insulation could be a factor here.
I'm guessing you have a cathedralized type ceiling structure
on that dormer - and perhaps the whole upper floor as well.

poorly insulated cathedral ceilings can cause ice damming.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


It's called maintenance. You need to hire a professional or take your own chances and remove the snow when it gets deep. It's just part of being a responsible homeowner. Not everything can be prevented.

Sly, the scenario you are describing sounds like the I&W caused the problem. The building is probably so air tight that it is drawing everything into the soffits. Possibility??????

Heat tapes......I've removed more of them than I have installed. Usually they cause too much damage, but are almost neccessary on some older homes and poorly engineered buildings.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:44 AM   #6
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


MJW, the majority is a poor product or poorly installed. I remove a lot of it also and am not it's biggest fan. However in this situation it sounds like one of the better solutions. Just like anything else, if it is not installed properly or maintained then it will be trash in two years also.
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:41 PM   #7
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


You could check visually for uniform snow depth, fig.#5: http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...d-135-ice-dams

Another favorite: http://www.homeenergy.org/consumerinfo/roofs.php

“The most notable problem area is located above the exterior wall. Raised-heel trusses or roof-framing details that allow for R-38 above the exterior wall should be used in new construction. In existing structures, where the space between the wall’s top plate and underside of the roof sheathing is restricted, install high R/inch insulating foam (R-6/inch). Be sure to seal the insulation at this point to prevent warm-air leakage from the living space.” --- http://bct.eco.umass.edu/publication...ting-ice-dams/

Air seal and foam board over the exterior walls: http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Pr...s/Step-By-Step

http://www.homeenergy.org/archive/he...96/961110.html

Exterior pictures would help….

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Old 12-10-2010, 06:41 PM   #8
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


Well, the odd thing is, there wasn't really any ice at the roof edge, just in the gutter (which was almost 2 inches over the top of the gutter.) I cleared out the gutters and downspouts just a couple of weeks ago and can verify they were clear too. We have ice dams elsewhere, but that portion of the roof is rolled roofing with an ice/moisture barrier under it and has never caused a problem.

Our contractor came this morning and suggested we remove the gutter entirely for now, which we did -- including about 500 lbs of ice in it. Ice had been pushing its way up under the drip edge and behind the siding. After clearing off several hundred pounds of snow, he then installed a run of heating cable zig-zagging along the roof edge, with a return run dangling against the fascia to discourage icicle formation.

The windows stopped leaking for now. We'll see how it goes when the next big storm hits later this weekend (potentially calling for an additional 18 - 24 inches). In the spring, it'll be a new gutter and less ad-hoc heat cabling, I think. Here's hoping this works for now.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:55 PM   #9
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HELP Heavy Snow, iced-up gutter, leaky windows


Quote:
Originally Posted by MJW View Post
It's called maintenance. You need to hire a professional or take your own chances and remove the snow when it gets deep. It's just part of being a responsible homeowner. Not everything can be prevented.

Sly, the scenario you are describing sounds like the I&W caused the problem. The building is probably so air tight that it is drawing everything into the soffits. Possibility??????
That's possible MJW but I'm not sure that's the issue in my scenario, it's simply a matter of have a 38' run of 6/12 above this section and a 7/12 28' run to the right of it both draining onto this 3/12 pitched roof.
It also has southern exposure and everything melts fairly quick even in freezing temps due to that and the steeper slopes run off much quicker than the flatter and simply over whelms the 16' of gutter that is collecting all the run off.


Heat tapes......I've removed more of them than I have installed. Usually they cause too much damage, but are almost neccessary on some older homes and poorly engineered buildings.
Like ONB, I too have seen alot of poorly installed heat tape jobs,
do it right it works.

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