Dealing with Icy Gutters

Gutters backed up with ice can be a stressful sight for homeowners. When temperatures hover around freezing snow on your roof can melt and refreeze causing ice dams.

Ice dams and snow on roof and gutters

Although ice spilling out of your gutters may look like an emergency, waiting it out can sometimes be your best bet. If the ice backup is not causing any damage, you may want to check your gutters daily until the temperature rises long enough for the ice to melt naturally.

Sometimes the backed up ice is clearly causing damage. If ice is causing your gutters to pull away from your roof, warping the gutters or causing water to drip into your house it should be removed immediately.
You can try to fix the situation yourself or hire a professional.

When Removing Ice Dams caused by frozen gutters:

  • Do not use a hammer to break the ice
  • Do not use an ax to break the ice
  • Do not ignore a frozen downspout when melting the ice in the gutters
  • Any of these actions can cause more damage to your property

    What you Can Do:

    • Use a roof rake to clear snow from the roof and reduce the amount of water that will flow through the gutters.
    • Use hot water to melt the ice. If you can attach a garden hose to a hot water spout and spray this at your gutters it can help melt the ice and get things moving.
    • Use calcium chloride to melt the ice. Sprinkle calcium chloride (sometimes sold at “ice melt”) on the ice. Do this strategically. Pour a cup of calcium chloride at the top of any downspout blocked by ice and in any areas of the gutter requiring immediate attention (if gutter is pulling away from house, backing up under the roof, causing leaks into your house). Calcium chloride can be corrosive. Follow all precautions listed on the packaging
    • Sometimes you have to call in the Pros

      Although tackling the problem on your own may seem cheaper, calling in a professional could save you money by reducing the risk of damage to your home. A professional will use steam or hot water to clear the ice and their experience will probably mean that they know how to get the job done efficiently and without damaging your roof or gutters.

      Preventing Icy Gutters

      Ice on roof and gutters

      Keeping your gutters clear can go a long way toward preventing backup. In late fall, check your gutters and clean out leaves and any other debris that would block water flow.

      One option is to use a roof rake to clear excess snow from your roof, especially in areas prone to melting and refreezing. These areas could include parts of your gutters near sources of heat like dryer vents, kitchen exhaust fans and chimneys.

      A long-term tool to prevent ice backup is to install a heating panel system on the roof which will keep water from freezing all winter long.