Gutter guard companies across the nation claim that installing these protective devices on your gutters can eliminate debris from collecting inside your drainage system – but that’s not necessarily true. While they do keep large-scale junk like twigs, leaves, and branches from building up, they don’t keep everything out and can cause ice damming – leaving your roof susceptible to major damage and even collapse during the winter months.
What Is Ice Damming?
Ice damming occurs when heat escapes through the roofing surface from the attic, often due to a lack of proper insulation, and results in partially melting the snow in direct contact with the roof. It can leave a layer of snow on top of that water to act as somewhat of insulation for the melted snow. The water tries to flow downward toward the gutter but freezes once it reaches the gutter system… forming an ice dam.
What Are Gutter Guards?
There are many types of gutter guards – mesh, screens, gutter helmet, and waterfall gutter guards. They are installed as somewhat of a shield over the top of gutters, are secured with gutter screws, and are often tucked under the roofing material when installed.
Each gutter guard type will keep large debris from settling inside the gutter. To allow the water to flow through them, gutter guards contain small holes that will still permit small items like seeds, pine needles, dirt, and dust to penetrate through. Smaller remnants can still collect inside the gutters and cause a blockage – leading to water overflow and a sopping wet foundation. Once the gutters are obstructed, gutter guards make it more challenging to get the system cleaned out and functioning properly again.
How Do Gutter Guards Cause Ice Damming?
Gutter guards may keep leaves, twigs, and branches from getting into gutters and inducing instant downspout clogs and overflow but gutter guards are not a hands-off method of protecting your drainage system investment. Without proper gutter maintenance, debris still collects on top of gutter guards – causing ice dams during the winter weather months.
When melted snow trickles down the roof and is later exposed to freezing cold air again at the eaves, the water refreezes on top of the debris trapped by those gutter guards and forms an ice dam. If not addressed, that ice dam increases in mass and weight putting undue pressure on the roof – and may result in extremely costly damages or partial roof collapse.
What’s The Solution?
Many gutter installation experts agree that nixing gutter guards and following a seasonal home maintenance plan that includes cleaning out your gutters is the most effective method to prevent ice damming, avoid gutter damage, and keep your home’s foundation (and basement) dry as a bone and free from mold and mildew.
If you’re not equipped or don’t have the time to clean gutters yourself, contact your local experts to take care of the job for you. They can inspect and maintain your home’s investment for years to come and avoid major issues with ice damming and potential roof collapse.