Gutter maintenance is critical for the structural integrity of your roof. The gutters of your home are designed to carry away water and debris that runs off the shingles and over the eaves. If your gutters are malfunctioning, this can cause all manner of structural damage, including ice dams.
Know the Relationship between Gutters and Ice Dams
Ice dams form when melting snow on the roof rolls down to the eaves and then re-freezes, forming a wall of ice that builds on itself. Eventually, this wall of ice will back up under the shingles and onto the roof's sheathing. When this happens, the ice will melt into the attic and run down the interior walls of your house. Ice dams can lead to ceiling leaks and wood rot.
Gutter problems are one of the causes of ice dams. If your gutters become clogged, this can slow down the flow of melting ice coming off of your roof, giving it time to freeze at the eaves.
Check for Clogs
If you suspect that your gutters caused your ice dam this winter, you'll need to get up on a ladder and look for clogs. Grab a hand shovel and a bucket, and climb up on a ladder to look inside your gutters. Use the shovel to clear out any waste from leaves and sticks. When this is done, use a hose to flush out the remaining debris in the bottom of the gutters.
Next, clear the downspout. You can do this with a plumber's auger. Send the tip of the auger into the downspout until it reaches the clog. Once the clog has been loosened, remove the auger and send a strong jet of water from a hose through the downspout.
Prevent Future Ice Dams
The best way to prevent future ice dams is to catch clogs before they become a problem. Clean your gutters every spring when the weather has warmed up, and every fall before the first snow of the year. If your gutters suffer from chronic clogs, trim back the trees around your house to help keep out the leaves and twigs. Then, speak with a gutter professional like A - 1 Seamless Gutters Inc about installing guards or shields to protect your gutters from falling debris.
If your gutter problems were the source of your ice dam this winter, following these steps should prevent ice dams from forming in the future. With proper gutter maintenance, you can extend the life of your roof and prevent costly damage to your home.