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tn312c 04-27-2009 04:29 PM

Icicles build up from leaf guard gutters
I have a brand new gutter system with leaf guard to keep out leaves and other debris. The system works well until this past winter, when I saw icicles appearing along the length of the gutters. I believe the icicles were formed due to droplets of water from melting snow not going into the gutters.

I noticed during the summer that there were droplets of rain falling along the length of the gutters. I did not think much about the problem then, but now with the icicles, some about 3" round and 6 to 7 feet long, possibly falling on people I am very concern.

I thought originally that the leaf guard was not properly installed and that all the change that had to be made was to push the leaf guard slightly in to allow the droplets to fall into the gutter. The installer said that he cannot make the requested adjustment, because the system was made that way to fit the guard from the roof to the gutter. Is there a fix for what I have? I have an EZ Flow system.

In the absence of making adjustment to my current system, I looked into installing heating cables. I am not sure the cables will work, because it will most likely require removal of the leaf guard to work properly and that will mean that my gutters will be plugged up come Fall with leaves.

I am most worried about the icicles falling from the gutter's edge and hurting someone. This past winter, the noise of icicles falling was so loud that I would say it sounded like the noise from a fire cracker.

Can someone help me with my problem? Thank you in advance...

gma2rjc 04-27-2009 05:43 PM

In my unprofessional opinion, I don't think it has anything to do with your gutters. Icicles can only form on your gutters if there is a supply of water to cause them to form. In the winter, the supply of water comes from snow on the roof melting due to the heat in your attic warming the shingles. The water runs down and re-freezes at the edge of your roof and in/over your gutters.

Has your attic been sealed? Do you have enough insulation in your attic? Is it ventilated properly?

Here is a link to a website that might help you.

tn312c 04-27-2009 09:10 PM

Icicles build up from leaf guard gutters
Thank you very much for your input. Please believe me when I say that the lack of insulation in my attic is not the problem. I should mention that the icicles formed along the entire length of my gutters.

Perhaps I should describe the EZ Flow's leaf guard system. The closest I can find on the internet is to ask people to go to the video shown in this website: at the 22 secs mark. This system is called "Gutter Helmet", but mine is called EZ Flow Leaf Guard system. However, both systems look almost the same. In both, the design uses the principle of water surface tension where rainwater adheres to the dome of the cap, then flowing into the slot and finally into the gutter, while leaves and debris fall off the gutter edge.

In my case, the rainwater does flow into the gutter via the slot. However, I don't think the water from the melted snow in very small amount and at a slower rate is flowing into the slot - I do see some droplets of water dripping off the edge of the gutter when raining. These water droplets that do not entering the gutter via the slot get frozen during cold weather and with the continous cold and warm weathers cycle, the icicles grow larger and larger.

I think the solution is to have the curve part just before the slot, where water enters the gutter is slightly short of the edge of the gutter. This way any water that melts and does not flow into the slot will simply drop into the gutter. Perhaps a millimter or two short of the gutter's edge might do the trick.

I hope my above explanations help to clear things up. Again, thanks...

gma2rjc 04-28-2009 07:04 AM

I understand what you're saying, I've seen that gutter system working at a home & garden show.

But, in the winter months, where is the water coming from in amounts great enough to form huge icicles?

tn312c 04-28-2009 07:46 AM

Icicles build up from leaf guard gutters
The build up is due to water from the melted snow not entering the slot and then into the gutter. Since my area had a couple of winter storms where the cold period lasted for days and days and where we had some sunny days, the warm sun may have caused some of the snow to melt on the roof and these melted snow in the form of water comes in contact with the icicles and this is how I think the build up occurs. Depending on the number of days of continous freeze and thaw, the icicles can get pretty big. Hope this helps...

Scuba_Dave 04-28-2009 12:12 PM

We had the same problem here - 1st time in 5 years since we bought the house. Due to snowstorms & weather sun would melt the snow that it was shining on. Water drips into the gutter & refreezes. Gutter became blocked, icicles all long the back South facing side. Every house in the area had the same thing

Any screen that can allow water to pass over & out of the gutter will cause icicles to form under the right conditions

tn312c 04-29-2009 09:04 PM

Icicles build up from EZ Flow Leaf Guard system
I think in your case, the problem is caused by the water fillling up the gutter and overflowing over the gutter edge. Therefore the icicles build along the entire length of the gutter.

In my case, I have a so call "cap" that covers the gutter to prevent leaves from entering the gutter. The "cap" design is suppose to allow rain water to enter the gutter, but not allow leaves from entering. The leaves are suppose to past the "cap's" edge and fall to the ground.

Unfortunately in my case, the drips do not have the force like rain water to enter the gutter, instead they drip off the "cap's" edge to the ground loike the leaves. Because of the cold, the droplets freezes on the edge of the "cap" and that starts the building of the icicles.

I am wondering if there are any experts out there that understand the principle of how EZ Flow Leaf Guard works and if they have a solution to my problem.

handy man88 04-29-2009 09:36 PM

This is what gutter guard installers and sellers don't talk about....snow & ice. I knew this would happen before you even posted this issue.

The water that would have stayed inside your gutter instead is forming as icicles on your gutters.

I think the only thing you can do, besides getting heater elements installed along the edge, is to knock the icicles down from the gutter as they form.

Given that, I"m surprised that gutter guard manufacturers don't have dark colored covers, which wouldn't be visible from ground level and would attract more heat and melt the ice faster during the winter.

I know they can probably get hot during the summer, but there should be much warping from that.

tn312c 04-30-2009 10:09 AM

Icicles build up from leaf guard gutters
Thank you for your input.

Yes, I too noticed that all gutter guards advertisements talk about is keeping leaves out, which most systems I think works well, but nothing on whether they solve problems relating to snow during the winter months.

I had thought about using heating cables too. I think the cables would have to drape over the guard. If so then I can see a couple of potential problems. One, the cables might prevent the water from flowing into the gutter properly. And, two, the heat from the cable might damage the guard.

With the above mentioned negatives, what do you and others think about using heating cables to solve the icicle problem?

Ed the Roofer 04-30-2009 11:27 AM

They can not be in direct contact with the aluminum gutters, otherwise you would create a fire hazard on your home.


tn312c 04-30-2009 04:06 PM

Icicles build up from leaf guard gutters
If the heating cable does not extend past the roof edge and across the width of the leaf guard/gutter, then heat is not being felt along the other edge of the guard/gutter. Then there is nothing to prevent water from getting frozen. What a disappointment!

Hope someone has another suggestion...

Devo64 06-10-2009 09:04 AM

Ice is falling!
Leaf Guard gutters are great at what they do, BUT I HAVE A WARNING FOR MY NORTHER STATE BRETHEREN: There is no way to prevent ice formation - no matter how well insulated and ventilated your attic is. If the temperature and sunlight conditions are right, the snow is going to melt, and re-freeze on these ice maker gutters.

We never had ice damming problems UNTIL WE INSTALLED LEAF GUARD GUTTERS. I am sure it is possible that some ice formed inside our gutters, but the extent of ice formation now is SHOCKING.

If you think about it, this makes sence, the hood over the gutter is a thin piece of metal, with air flowing over and under - when water trickles down from snow melt on our black shingled roof, and hits this air chilled metallic surface, it freezes - as do the water droplets that hang from the metalic edge of the gutter hood.

The opening between the hood and the gutter quickly gets sealed off because of this icing, and then you have a perfect storm for ice formation. If you've never seen ice damns on your home before YOU WILL ABSOLUTELY see them after you have these gutters installed.

IT GETS WORSE: We had these installed on our Wisconsin home in November, and just a few weeks later we had a few large snow falls and then some very sunny weather - with temps below freezing. The ice formation on our brand new gutters was ASTOUNDING.

We called, and they told us that this meant the gutters were working - that ICE is not LIQUID WATER and the gutters are meant to keep out everything except LIQUID WATER. Their response to our concerns so obviously well rehearsed that we soon realized that this was a major problem with these gutters.

To be sure, the icicles hanging over the gutters were 2 to 3 feet long - I had to drive through ice to get into my garage. More significantly, the ice forming directly on top of the gutter hood was 4 to 5 inches thick.

IT GETS EVEN WORSE: Within a few days of expressing our concerns to Leaf Guard, and being told that the gutters were working, weather conditions got much warmer - the snow on our roof began to melt rapidly, and the flow washed the ice formations (4 to 5 inch thick ice spanning our entire roof line) off of the top of the gutter hood.

If we had ice formations inside our gutters, they would not have fallen from our roof.

Fortunately nobody was killed - because had someone been standing in the wrong place at the wrong time they would have been killed.

Unfortunately I have a working greenhouse attached to my home. It was demolished.

We spent the rest of the winter trying to keep the ice from forming on the gutters using a roof rake. Most of the winter we were okay, but there were mulitple times where the ice formed - and multiple occurances of chuncks of ice falling from our roofline.

SUMMARY: Leaf Guard gutters are great at what they do - we have a wooded lot and just got through spring with the gutters performing marvelously. However, if you live in a state where there is regular snow accumulation (ZONE 4 or lower is my guess), the YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY AVOID BUYING THIS PRODUCT AT ALL COSTS.

There are other alternatives that do not prevent water from making it INTO your gutters during winter.



NOTICE: If anyone else has has similar problems, please post to this message board.

tn312c 06-10-2009 04:14 PM

Icicles buold up from leaf guard
Thank you Devo. I have to think what my next steps are to be. Your input should help. Again thanks...

I noticed at the end of your message that there's a mention of "Gutter Helmet" or an ad for Gutter Helmet. Anybody has any experience with icicles forming on these?

I've heard words that they work real well, but no one mentioned to me whether icicles form on this type of gutters. Would appreciate input on this.

MJW 06-10-2009 04:17 PM

Very true Devo. Happens on every roof that has them up here. Some customers ask about them, but we always advise against any of them, not just leafguard. Just my opinion, but it's easier and better just to get your butt up there and clean them or hire someone to clean them.

The guards are also way over-priced if you ask me.

I can't believe so many people fell for it though, pardon me, but the whole idea is kind of a joke to me. Bad for winter and ice, and even heavy rains.....the water runs right over them. Waste of money, IMO.

Daniel Holzman 06-10-2009 05:16 PM

When we first bought our house in MA, we had gutters with no leaf guards. Of course, leaves plugged the gutters every fall, and I was too lazy to clean them out (two story colonial), so the gutters did not function properly. Then I installed a leaf guard system, which as many of you have noted, made things worse due to ice formation.....

So finally I got smart, and removed the gutters completely. Now I wonder why on earth I ever had them. The water runs off the roof, drips onto my plants below, everyone is happy. The plants thrive, there are no icicles. I have a small section of aluminum drip guard over the front door so travelling salesman, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the occasional visitor don't get too wet while I get to the door, but other than that, no more gutters, no more problems.

Rather than waste your time and money installing cables etc., just tear off the gutters. You might even make a couple of bucks selling them used to the next poor homeowner. I still have some unused aluminum screws at home you can throw in with the gutters so the next DIYer can install the gutters with confidence ha ha.

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