Icicles hanging from the roof may look great on Hallmark cards. But while they may paint an idyllic picture of winter, they’re dangerous to passersby and a sign of problems with your gutter. And those problems can lead to worse problems with your roof!
In a best-case scenery, the only icicles you’ll see will be on tree branches. And you can take steps to keep them off your house. Let’s have a look at the routine steps you can do to keep them away!
The Prep Work
Like most problems, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to avoid trouble with icicles is to take care of your gutters before winter comes. These tips will help you do that.
Clear The Gutters
Gutters are intended to direct rain and melting snow away from your roof. But leaves and twigs can build up quickly and block the drainage.
It’s important to clean out your gutters twice a year, preferably after the leaves have fallen in your area. Even if you don’t have trees dropping leaves on top of your house, though, dirt and trash may still accumulate. That means you’ll still need to clean out the gutters as needed.
Be sure to exercise caution while using a ladder.
A pressure washer comes in handy to quickly force the leaves out of the gutter. Some even have extensions to make the job easier.
If you’re not comfortable climbing a ladder, you probably want to hire a professional to do the job.
Inspect For Leaks And Damage
Of course, the weight of leaves or ice can do damage to your gutters over time. That can cause them to pull away from the roof, allowing water to slip through the space between the roof and the gutter. Or sections of the gutter might pull apart over time, allowing for other leaks.
Watch for spots that water may be dripping or nails pulling out of their moorings. Repair them as soon as possible to protect your roof and walls from water and ice damage. And if water seeps in then freezing, it will expand, making the damage worse.
Use Gutter Guards
One way to keep your gutters cleaner is by using gutter guards. These screens sit on top of the gutter and prevent most leaves and debris from getting into the gutter itself. Water can flow below the guard into the gutter.
You should still clean the guards off, but it’s much easier. The debris sits on top rather than getting stuck inside where it needs to be dug out. Some small pieces will still get by, but these will usually just wash away with the flow of the water. You may still need to clean out the gutter occasionally, but it will be far less often.
Downspouts take the water from the roof down and away from your house. Like gutters, though, downspouts can get clogged with leaves and other waste.
Check often to make sure water flows freely through them. Use a hose or your power washer to spray water through them and check to see that it flows out freely.
If the water comes out slower than it goes in, something is blocking it. Sometimes the water pressure can knock it loose. Otherwise, you may have to disassemble it to find the blockage. Or you could have it snaked by professionals.
Direct Water Farther From The House
While you’re working on the downspouts, have a look at where they direct the water. Some may go directly to a drainage system, but others will allow the water to run out into the open.
If it deposits the water too close to your house, you may want to extend it away. That will help prevent leaks into your foundation as well as ice patches forming nearby.
Be sure you don’t have puddles forming, too. If you do, you may have to build up the soil to help the water flow away from the end of the downspout.
When You Already Have Icicles
Of course, there may be times you didn’t get the gutter cleaned out in time. Or maybe you didn’t notice damage, so icicles still form. So what should you do then?
If the icicles are small, you might not have a real problem. It could simply be condensation on the outside of the gutter. But if they grow, you should take care of them.
Cut And Crack
Larger icicles start to pull your gutter down. If possible, you should remove them.
You can use a hacksaw to cut them off. A small sledgehammer can also be useful.
When possible, try to work at the level of the top of the icicle. Working overhead can often be dangerous, and you don’t want the ice to drop onto you. Of course, make sure that people and animals are well out of the way, too, since the ice will crack and scatter when it hits the ground.
You could also use an ice melt product to help get rid of the ice in the gutter and the edge of your roof. However, avoid calcium chloride since it’s prone to stain the roof. Most ice melts are corrosive to some extent, so use it sparingly.
Have Icicles On Your Siding?
If icicles form on your siding, that can mean that water is getting behind it. That can lead to rot and even to water getting inside your house. You’ll want to contact a professional to have a look at it and make any necessary repairs.
Icicles may look great on postcards, but you don’t want them hanging from your gutters and roof. Taking good care of your gutters is the best way to avoid them and protect your roof and walls. If you already have icicles, though, try to remove them as soon as possible!