Often people associate ice damming with their gutters and we want to take the time and explain and explore the reasons of ice damming and what you can do to prevent it from happening. Ice damming is mainly caused by heat loss from your home into your attic as shown in the diagram.
When the temperatures drop during the winter, the insulation in your attic should keep the heat from escaping your living space into the attic. The temperature of the air in your attic should be very close to the temperature of the air outside. In addition to insulation you should have roof, soffit, as well as ridge vents to help maintain similar temperatures in the attic and outside.
When the house is not properly insulated and vented, heat from the house escapes into your attic. Add to that the right exterior conditions such as cold temperatures and a snow-covered roof, we get a perfect environment for Ice Damming to occur. The warm air now in your attic will heat the roof which will cause the snow to melt. Water from the melted snow reaches the roof overhang where it will freeze. This is because there is no attic under your overhangs which will make that part of the roof much colder than the rest of it.
The water will continue to melt flowing down to the frozen overhang area of the roof which will prevent it from escaping the roof and draining down as gravity commands.
Eventually the water will find its way back underneath the shingles and into your home. When you have gutters the same process will occur with the only difference that the ice could damage the gutters as well. Removing your gutters will not prevent ice damming to your roof. Gutters are an important part of your roof structure and have a very important role to play in protecting your home/building foundation. The first thing to consider when you notice ice damming forming on your roof is to call a reliable contractor to look at your attic and make sure that there is no heat escaping from the home into the attic. Heat wires installed on the overhang part of your roof are a cheaper option in the short run to prevent ice damming. At Gutters 4 U we don’t believe that heat wires are a reliable way for preventing ice damming.