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Have you ever seen a home during winter with fresh fallen snow all around it, majestic frozen icicles hanging from the edges with snow covering the roof and thought “wow, what a beautiful winter home?” Well chances are if you’re seeing icicles, there is a much bigger issue going on behind the scenes.

As most homeowners are well aware of, gutters tend be a necessary evil in protecting their homes from weather throughout the seasons. Gutters are important because they keep water away from the house and they help in keeping your basement dry. However; if it’s not a clog of twigs and leaves in the fall, it’s a barrier of snow and ice in the winter. Looking out for and maintaining your gutter system is an essential step in the long-term life of your home. It is particularly important during the winter season, especially in regions that tend to get into the sub-zero temperatures. Gutters in these regions have a more likely chance of freezing and creating an ice dam.

An ice dam is created when the warmth of your house melts the snow on top of your roof. This being the warmest part of your roof, the melted snow runs down the roof towards the edge, which in turn is the coldest part of your roof causing the melted snow to re-freeze. The refrozen snow begins to form a wall or dam at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters and downspout. When a dam forms, the continuing water flow then backs up behind the wall creating a pool. This pool of water can then leak into your home causing water damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

It is always important to keep gutters completely clean and free of debris so when snow storms occur, you are off to a good start. However; without the right gutter guard, this is a fruitless effort. Nature is a part of life and will always find its way into your gutters. Heated gutter guards are a perfect solution. Heated gutter guards are the best way to solve your snow and ice problems because not only do they melt icicles, ice dams and snow loads on your gutters; they also melt ice about one to three inches up the roof line keeping your gutter and roof’s edge dry and worry free during the winter; while continuing to filter out leaves, pine needles and sand from your gutter all year round. Below are “Before” and “After” photos of the Gutterglove Ice Melting Heated Panels heated gutter guard system.

There are only a few manufacturers of heated gutter guards in the industry. All of them use a self-regulated heat cable connected to the gutter guard in some fashion for generating the warmth necessary for melting the ice. Some heated gutter guards use only one cable whereas others are less efficient and require up to three cables to generate the heat needed.
Before bad storms and freezing temperatures, make sure your gutter and downspouts are free from potential clogs that will create a dam. If you don’t have a heated gutter guard, you can counteract effects of the formation of ice dams by using a variety of household tools such as:

  • A Chisel, Screwdriver or Hammer Head: Used to chip away at the ice, this may be lead to more gutter strain causing the gutters to fall down, tearing the side of your house in the process.
  • A Roof-Rake: Used to “rake” or pull the snow downward which can cause you to rip shingles out of the roof.
  • A Hose: Using warm water to melt the ice and clear the dam, this technique won’t last long as an ice dam will inevitably form again and you take the risk of cracking your gutters.
    All of these options are not only hazardous to your safety and well-being; you in turn run the risk of creating permanent property damage to your home. If you don’t have a heated gutter guard in place, you can do the following as an alternate option:
  • Heated roof and gutter cables: Self-regulated heat cables can be used within the existing gutters and along the eves of the roof to prevent ice before it solidifies on the roof and in the gutter. The heated cables radiate heat downward, creating a micro-climate, helping to melt icicles, ice dams and snow loads in the winter they do not interrupt the normal function of a gutter guard. Sample brand names include: Gutterglove Ice Melting Heated Panels and Heater Cap.

So if you are living in a region that is prone to freezing temperatures, ice formation and snow storms, you would benefit most from a heated gutter guard for your snow and ice problems. Not only will you save your gutters from being ripped off your home from sliding snow and ice off your roof, you will protect your gutters from the formation of ice dams and other possible snow damage that occurs in colder temperatures.