Strange Ice Dam Prevention Idea in Wales, Wisconsin
I was in a neighborhood in Wales, WI recently and observed a strange attempt at ice dam prevention. It involved covering the gutter with a sheet metal strip to prevent water from entering the gutter. Roof heat tape was also installed at the valley area to prevent ice dams in the valley. I hope to stop back next year (as this is the end of the winter season) to take pictures of the effectiveness of this ice dam prevention system. I presume the sheet metal strip is removed from the gutter top in the spring so the gutter can function.
The idea for this results from the concept that ice dams start in the gutter. If the gutter does not fill up, then no ice dams. We have blogged previously on the subject of Do Gutters Cause Ice Dams?. The article pointed out that it was the fact that the melt water came out from under the insulating effects of the snow that caused the ice dams. Whether there are gutters or not, ice dams do form at the roof edge or where the snow stops as in the case of roof raking to prevent ice dams. (Beware - Roof Raking Can Cause Ice Dams).
Likely, this sheet metal cover over the gutter acts similar to when gutter protection is used to cover the gutters. The 'helmet' or 'hood' style of gutter guard is particularly suseptible to this problem. The thin metal at the gutter can be super cooled by low temperatures and wind. The result is a flat surface that slows the melted run off which can cool and freeze quickly. The repeated process builds ice dams and gutter icicles that drip on whatever is below. If it is the lawn - no big deal. If it is the front walk, driveway, or deck area that is used in the winter - much more of a problem.
What is an effective way to prevent ice dams for the DIY homeowner?
We recommend that gutters not be covered. If tree litter is a problem, clean the gutters regularly. Or use a gutter guard that can be more easily heated. Many DIY homeowners believe there only option is the hardware store style heat tape. This is not the case. WI Ice Dam Solutions stocks the commercial style self regulating heat cable for your purchase. We can also fabricate the necessary ice dam prevention products for your particular needs. Bring us your picture and/or diagram and we will design a system for you. Want our assistance, we can install the products, too. The process is simple to get started. Contact Us for more information.