When low temperatures overrun your neighborhood, they can bring potential difficulties with them. Outdoors, the extreme cold can harm pets, freeze pipes, and cause frostbite. Any snowfall can block driveways and entryways, break tree branches, and cover cars.
Don’t Forget the Ice
But many people tend to forget about ice and the damage it can wreak on your home. Here are five examples:
- It can form an ice dam. This is the most common ice-related home malady. When ice begins building up in your gutters, it can spread onto the roof and under your shingles. From there, it can expand across your roof, crack your fascia, and even migrate into your home, where it can cause attic damage and endanger electrical wiring and pipes.
- It can melt and cause damage to your home’s interior. When this ice does invade your home, it will eventually melt. But then the water has no place to go, so it trickles over your ceilings, into your walls, and onto your floors. Of course, this leads to a laundry list of potential problems, including peeling paint, moldy or deteriorating carpet, and damaged furniture.
- It can weigh down your gutters. Frozen water in your gutters will not flow toward your downspouts. Instead, it will keep building on itself; and when it reaches the roof, it will take on added weight from roof snowpack. That’s when your gutters may start to bend, crumple, crack, or even separate from their hangers or each other.
- It can plug up your downspouts. Melted snow often trickles down your downspouts. But that water may freeze before it flows out onto the ground (especially if the snowpack on the ground is higher than the level of your downspout opening). When this happens, a block of ice can form in your downspout opening; which not only adds to the weight of the downspout and cause it to become loose, but also prevents runoff water from exiting when the temperature finally warms up.
- It can cause icicles — which have their own issues. Safety advocates advise against breaking icicles off your gutters, because they can act as heavy projectiles and injure you. But when you leave them alone, they can often drip water onto the ground beneath — which then often freezes into an ice patch on which you can slip, fall, and hurt yourself.
What to Do
The best way to approach ice dams is to keep them from forming in the first place. This means implementing a gutter heating system, like Heated Helmet, which can melt the ice and snow before dams can form. Most of these systems involve running a wire or cable through your gutters and along the bottom six inches of your roof shingles, and then plugging one end into a power box or an electrical outlet. A retractable roof rake can also help displace snow from your roof onto the ground in order to rob any ice dams of its potential “fuel source.”
You can’t avoid winter and inclement weather. But you can prevent ice from causing damage to your home by addressing the problem early and remaining vigilant.