Frozen Gutters and Ice Dam Formation Can Lead to Structural Integrity Issues
One of the advantages of a properly functioning gutter system is the manner in which it quietly and efficiently collects and diverts rainwater and melted snow away from the roof edge. Working essentially unnoticed and in virtual anonymity, these systems protect the foundation of residential/commercial buildings by channeling water a safe distance away.
When these systems do not function properly, however, it can lead to some very serious repercussions, as in water damage to the roof or building envelope. One of the common reasons for a drainage malfunction in the winter is the formation of ice dams, a result of blocked or frozen gutters.
Throughout the winter, snow accumulation on the roof can undergo repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles, either due to air temperature fluctuations or heat produced inside the home that enters the attic and warms the surface of the roof. When gutters are prohibited from collecting and draining the resultant melted snow because they are blocked and/or frozen solid, that water ultimately refreezes along the roof edge, creating an ice dam.
As more snow melts, the water produced is impeded by the ice dam and therefore looks for another method of escape, so to speak; this usually means that it finds its way under the roofline and into the home, carrying with it a potential to cause any of the following:
- Wet/ineffective attic insulation
- Rotting of the roof deck/rafters
- Cracks in the foundation/masonry
- Cracked, peeled, or blistered paint
- Short circuits in the electrical system
- Structural damage to flooring/ceilings
- Weakening/rotting of soffits and fascia
- Growth and penetration of mold/mildew
There are several steps that homeowners can pursue to avoid frozen gutters and thereby prevent the formation of ice dams and their subsequent potential to affect the structural integrity of the home. Some of the more common preventative measures consist of:
- Regular gutter cleaning throughout the year
- Installation of gutter guards or gutter screens
- Adequate ventilation and insulation of the attic
- Installation of a heating system/heating cables
- Clearing/raking accumulated snow from the roof
- Mesh tubes of non-corrosive salt over downspouts
In the event that ice dams have formed and homeowners have concerns about possible water-related structural damage, it is highly advised to avoid any do-it-yourself ice dam removal, for reasons of personal safety as well as to prevent inadvertently causing more harm than good. Such instances call for professional services, such as a steam or hot-water application by the trained experts from Avenue Road Roofing.
RainPro Gutters Improve Drainage Capacity and Weight-Bearing Properties
An additional and clearly detrimental aspect of frozen gutters yet to be discussed here is the effect of the ice, specifically its weight, on the gutter system itself. In some cases, particularly for systems that are perhaps older and/or lighter in composition, the sheer mass of the ice can present too much of a load/burden, subsequently causing a length of gutter to become loose, to dislodge, or fall altogether.
This can cause extensive damage not only to the gutter, but to the fascia, the roof edge, and/or the building exterior. One way to avoid this potential situation, and improve the overall efficiency of a drainage system at the same time, is to have Avenue Road Roofing install RainPro Design Series gutters.
RainPro gutters incorporate a unique design that provides the capacity of a 6” gutter while maintaining the appearance of the customary 5” capacity systems that are usually installed on most Toronto homes and commercial properties. Furthermore, the RainPro series of gutters are made from heavy gauge aluminum, providing maximum strength with respect to their weight-bearing properties.
Additional advantages of the RainPro line of gutters include:
- Maximized water flow during rainstorms, winter thaw periods
- Increased protection from leaks, other water-related damage
Avenue Road Roofing is one of a limited number of manufacturer-approved installers for the RainPro gutter series. For additional information on RainPro gutters and other gutter installation and repair services offered by the specialists from Avenue Road Roofing, see
If you require roof maintenance and repair service this winter, including attention to ice dam formation or related water damage, call the professionals at Avenue Road Roofing at 416-785-5129 to arrange a service call at your earliest convenience.