Most people who live in colder climates know that snow and ice are potential hazards to their roofing system. One of the more common problems that comes along with this snow and ice is problems caused by snow in the gutters. Snow in the gutters can contract and expand during temperature fluctuations and eventually lead to ice dams.
Ice dams are accumulations of solid ice that form predominantly along the eves and gutters of the roof, the same ice dams are what cause icicles along your eaves. While these may be pretty to look at they can lead to damage to multiple parts of the roofing system. Ice dams have been known to cause damage to the shingles or roofing materials, back water up into the fascia of the house, cause leaks and even bring down whole gutter systems. For those with gutter guard systems on the roof, ice dams can swell up and cause damage to your system adding more cost to get everything fixed. This is why its important to avoid ice dams in the first place and you can help part of the problem by keeping snow out of the gutters.
Advice on Clearing Snow from the Gutters
Remember any time you get on a ladder you have the potential for personal injury. Try to wait until conditions are not so slippery for you to attempt clearing snow from your gutters or you may find yourself sprawled out on the ground before you know it. Put your ladder up and slowly work your way across the gutter system scooping out snow and noting the presence of any ice dams that have formed or are beginning to take shape. If you want to stay off of your roof or ladder altogether its possible to purchase a long handled roof rake to clear some of the snow off of your eaves and gutters. This may not be as thorough but can help potential problems without you risking injury. If you have access and the tools you can also hook up a a garden hose up to a warm (not hot) water connection and wash away accumulated snow.
Preventing Snow in Gutters
Once you have clean gutters you may want to take some steps to keep snow from forming in them again. Heated cables are available but they’re cumbersome to install, use power and may not always perform as advertised. A quick and cheap solution is to fill panty hose with calcium chloride or other snow melting solution and lay them inside the gutters to melt snow as it accumulates.
When in doubt don’t risk it. Call a reputable roofing company to help you fix the problem or get a recommendation of a company that can.