Living in Southern Ontario means dealing with cold winters, snow, high winds, and other weather threats that can damage your home. One of the most vulnerable areas of your home is the eavestroughs. As debris, snow, and ice collect in your gutters it increases the dangers of water build-up and ice dams. Water can cause serious and costly damage to your roof, eavestroughs, and eventually even the interior of your home.
That’s why in the winter months it’s important for homeowners to take a proactive approach to protect their home against cold weather damage to their eavestroughs. Here we offer tips to prepare for the winter ahead and keep your home safe and dry.
What Are Ice Dams?
Ice dams are ridges of ice that build up at the edge of your roof. While this might sound harmless, ice dams prevent melting snow from draining properly off the roof and flowing easily into your eavestroughs. Instead, the water is forced back up as the ice dam blocks it from progressing downwards. This forces the water under your shingles or roof tiles, which results in leaks that can damage not only your roof, but can eventually seep into your attic, insulation, ceilings, and walls. This is a costly prospect and can also lead to mould growth.
What Damage Can Ice Dams Cause?
As ice dams in eavestroughs build up, they get heavier and heavier. When we experience a warm spell, the ice begins to melt, which loosens the ice dam. As a result, large chunks of ice can fall from your roof, often causing eavestrough damage in the process. In severe cases, the ice can even take off entire sections of your gutters. Your roof also suffers as, when snow and ice melt, the ice dams allow water seepage. When the weather turns colder again, that water freezes and expands which can loosen shingles and allow for water seepage to go deeper into your home. The longer ice dams are left on your roof, the more costly the damage.
4 Signs You Have Ice Dams
There are four common signs your home has ice dams in your eavestroughs or on your roof:
1. Ice forming on exterior walls
Ice dams in your eavestroughs cause ice to form on the exterior walls of your home. This happens when the ice dams force water to seep behind protective elements of your home like siding or soffits. You can also look for staining left behind when ice build-up on the walls melt.
2. Poor eavestrough drainage
If you notice your gutters are not draining, it could be because ice dams are forcing the water back up into the roof. This will lead to roof and water damage to your home’s structure.
3. Uneven snow melting patterns on the roof
Ice dams can cause the snow on your roof to melt in unusual ways. If you see that snow is melting at higher areas of the roof, but snow remains at the edges and lower areas, this is a sign of ice dams. As heat escapes from your roof, it causes the snow to melt. By the time it reaches the bottom of the roof, the heat decreases and the chill of the exposed edges causes the snow to remain frozen.
While icicles might be pretty, they are one of the main signs you have ice dams. Because the water has nowhere to go, excessive snow built up on the roof can cause icicles to form as the weather fluctuates between warm and cold. The weight of icicles along your gutter edge can cause serious damage to your eavestroughs, not to mention your roof, due to water back-up.
With the passing of time, you will also eventually see interior water damage as the water seeps further and further into your home. However, if you notice the other signs early enough, you can make repairs and upgrades before the interior is affected.
How Are Ice Dams Prevented?
There are many steps you can take to prevent ice dams and cold weather damage to your eavestroughs, including:
- Gutter guards: Using effective leaf guard systems such as Alu-Rex is one of your best protections against the winter elements. The shield protects your eaves from ice dams as well as preventing snow from sliding off the roof. Leaf guard systems provide added, uniform strength to prevent your gutters from warping and rusting. As a result you add longer life to your eavestroughs, while also protecting your home from water damage. When we install eavestroughs and leaf guard systems together, with the manufacturer’s warranty plus our 10-year labour warranty, you will be upgraded to a lifetime guarantee. If you don’t have gutter guards, then clearing eavestroughs of debris is a must every fall.
- Repair or replace soffits: Soffit provides much needed air circulation and ventilation in the area under your roof. By replacing old soffit with either a vented or solid panel, you provide proper air circulation to eliminate condensation that can lead to issues including timber rot. It also adds a nice, finished look to your roof.
- Repair or replace fascia: Aluminum fascia protects the structural wood fascia from the elements. Your wood fascia holds up your eavestrough and soffits, offering structural integrity required to support the weight of water and snow running through the eavestrough. As with soffit it also adds a more finished look to your home. New aluminum fascia is maintenance-free and available in a wide range of colours and custom profiles.
- Seal the attic: Allowing air to escape up and through the attic causes issues with your roof. While insulation helps, you’ll still have problems if warm air escapes from your living space into the attic. Warm air can find its way through gaps and vents, which heats up your attic. Ensuring all gaps are sealed, and your bathroom and dryer vents are rerouted through an exterior wall of your home, can prevent your attic from overheating.
- Attic ventilation: Intake attic vents installed on the underside of roof eaves, and exhaust vents installed at the top of the roof will help manage airflow to maintain proper air circulation and balanced heating and cooling for air in the attic.
You can remove ice and snow from your roof, but this can be a dangerous task. Prevention is always your safest and most effective approach to avoiding roof and eavestrough cold weather damage.
If you would like to protect your home from eavestrough cold weather damage speak to our team about exterior upgrades such as leaf guard systems, soffits and fascia. Get a quote today.