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Old 02-14-2010, 08:31 PM   #1
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


I am in Wash DC area which just got 40" of snow in last week and half. My gutter on north side of house (2 storied) unable to climb up to gutter, has ice in gutter, with large icicles hanging between gutter and facia board, some of which i can reach, others not.

Also, on south side I have gutter downspout draining into a drain which has underground (6" sunk under lawn) plastic pipe to lead water away from downsput - but end of underground pipe is currently buried under 40" of snow on lawn.

Appreciate suggestions what I can do:
1) to minimize ice damage to gutters/house
2) should i dig out end of underground pipe, and expose open end then to freezing at night, or better to let runoff from southern side melting, going down downspout, to drain into underground pipe, and will end of pipe create its own tunnel of water flowing out under snow ? thereby allowing gutters to drain when heated by sun, and taking water way from house, vs having undergound pipe freeze at night when we are in 20?s

TIA for any advice

In 22 years of living in this house, never had any situation like this before

Tom

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Old 02-15-2010, 04:35 AM   #2
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


Do not dig up your lawn, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.
Most homes in northern states have ice filled gutters four months a year, every single year, for their entire lives.
There's really nothing you can do now, and if this has never happened in 22 years, then I wouldn't do anything later, either.
The only thing you can do is monitor your attic and your roofline, and if you see pools of water forming or entering the attic, you can get on a ladder with a hammer and start breaking up the dams.
This is very dangerous and usually unnecessary.
Just be patient, I bet you'll have no damage.
If you want to be proactive, add some insulation and ventilation to your attic and air chutes between the rafters down to the eaves.


Last edited by Dairylander; 02-15-2010 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:31 AM   #3
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


I wonder if those "Toss it on the roof" pellets would work in your case?
Has anyone here used them? Do they work well?
I've been curious since I saw the commercials....

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Old 02-16-2010, 02:31 PM   #4
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


There are several posts in this forum which discuss eliminating and reduction of ice damning, specifically proper insulation and ventilation.

As for the downspout under ground it's probably frozen under ground and anything that wants to drain has nowhere to go. That's a geniune concern.

As for getting the ice damn off the roof and gutters, you may want to look into hot water, since anything else has the potential of damaging the roof and gutters.

Gutter-roof warming cables are a band aid approach but do help for the short term. Look into proper ventilation and insulation for a permanent cure.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Look into proper ventilation and insulation for a permanent cure.

The reason for ice dams is air leaks in the attic floor. No venting or insulation.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:38 AM   #6
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Mariani View Post
The reason for ice dams is air leaks in the attic floor. No venting or insulation.

Yet with proper venting and insulation the air leaks are gone.

So you agree with him.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:39 AM   #7
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


Insulating the attic floor properly and venting the attic DO help to minimize the dams. BUT..with the weather we've had in the mid-Atlantic this year..virtually EVERY home is dealing with unusual amounts of snow on the roof....and subsequent melting ....which then freezes in the gutters...forming massive icicles...and dams....all of which will happen on a moderately sunny day as a result of the sun...even if attic temp is identical to outside temp...insulated and ventilated....or not.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:26 PM   #8
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Mariani View Post
The reason for ice dams is air leaks in the attic floor. No venting or insulation.
This is true, but when 1-2 feet of snowdrops in a day the gutters will eventually be filled with ice just from the sun melt over the following days.No way to stop it.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:16 PM   #9
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


The buried undergound drainage is probably not frozen in your climate. If it froze momentarily, it started to thaw fro the latent ground heat once you got a good insulating snow cover. Most of your melted snow cover will soak into the ground as the bottom also melts from the ground heat and does not re-freeze with a decent cover.

Removing the snow may cause freezing at night.

Dick
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:26 PM   #10
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


Are you saying that heat loss is melting the snow on the roof and causing the water to run and freeze at the gutters ? Not sure I understand but I would like to.

I have heat upstairs but I don't turn it on because it is not used for anything.

I have pretty good insulation (blown cellulose 8" ) story and a half with no ventilation. I made the crawl space part of the living area with ventilation and heat transfer allowed.

I have some pretty good ice dams going for me. I have been using calcium on it in areas I can reach safely.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Corbin View Post
Are you saying that heat loss is melting the snow on the roof and causing the water to run and freeze at the gutters ? Not sure I understand but I would like to.

I have heat upstairs but I don't turn it on because it is not used for anything.

I have pretty good insulation (blown cellulose 8" ) story and a half with no ventilation. I made the crawl space part of the living area with ventilation and heat transfer allowed.

I have some pretty good ice dams going for me. I have been using calcium on it in areas I can reach safely.
there's lots of things that cause the melting...it can be limited but not eliminated. then it freezes at the gutters...ice dams...no way around it many times.
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:02 AM   #12
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


I'm not sure about removing them once they've formed, but putting snow guards on sure seems to prevent the problems from happening.

http://www.albertsroofing.com/SnowGu...stallation.htm
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:22 AM   #13
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I used to have gutters around my house in the Boston area. One year we got really serious ice dams, due to a large snowfall followed by relatively warm weather. The snow on the upper part of the roof thawed from the sun, ran down on the north side, and froze in the gutters.

So the next year I removed all the gutters from the north side of the house. No more ice dams. That was ten years ago. If you have adequate overhang, proper grade away from the house, and a good drip edge, so far as I can tell gutters are unnecessary, unless you collect rainwater for your garden. Some people like gutters for cosmetic reasons, I don't care for the maintenance headache.
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Old 02-21-2010, 04:55 PM   #14
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


ICE DAM

PREVENTING
- Check your attic ventilation by comparing your house to neighbors. Do they have snow when you don’t? If so, your attic may be to warm.
- Watch for ice cycles, they may be a sing of poor drainage or damaged gutters.
- Any time there is accumulated snow, use the Roof Rake to clear the bottom couple feet above the gutter. Remove all the snow if you think the weight may cause structural damage.
- Insure there is adequate attic insulation under the shingles and along the bottom 24 to 36 inches of the roof.
- Add additional vents to insure that the attic and roof are about the same temperature as the cold outdoor air. This helps prevent the ice from melting to begin with.
- Snip or replace long screws with shorter screws on all connected down spout pieces. This prevents debris and ice from catching and causing blocks in the downspouts.
- Insure the gutters are clear of all debris and have proper slant towards downspout. Cleaning can be done with an off the shelf water pressured gutter wand, but gutter wands that attach to leaf blowers do a better job with the larger debris like leaves. A leaf blower can be used without a wand if you want to climb on the roof. You can also stick it on the bottom of the downspout and out clogs.
- Add additional and replace bent or broken gutter braces.
- Scrap and re-cock cracked or missing cocking joints.
- If all precautions have been made and you still have ice dam issues, Electric De-icing Cables can be added. They don’t need to be run all winter, once installed apply power only when you need them.


CONTEND WITH
- Add fertilizer to gutters to help melt the ice without damaging the lawn like salt.
- Chip ice out with 2” paint scrapper. Busting it small chunks and throwing it out.
- If you know the down spout is open and only the gutter is full, chip an opening from the gutter to the down spout. This will help with natural drainage. This can also be done with direct spray of hot water. Once open the whole gutter can be cleared with hot water.
- If your gutters are full of ice it is quite likely that they are now bent, will not drain correctly, and have bent or broken brackets. Once things have thawed or you have cleared the gutters of ice, insure you conduct proper gutter repair (brackets, drainage slant, cocking, etc.).
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Old 02-21-2010, 06:29 PM   #15
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how to reduce/remove ice dam in gutters


We also live in the Washingtom Dc area
We had a serios leak a week ago from no where through walls into kitchen ceiling...The water piled up behind the ceilling. In about 3 hrs the ceiling craked & water came gushing down. All of the sudden the leak stopped

We are now repairing the dry wall damage BUT we had no idea until reading your posting we probably had a water dam

We are not sure where to start the preventive measure ...My husband in arguing that we should replace the gutter I think it is the insufficient insulation in the attaic. Specially the room where the leak took place on the secand floor have access panel to the attic . I noticed this room gets too hot and may be we need to add insulation above this room to avoid this in the future. Do you think we need to also replace the gutter??/ I just dont see why?

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