One Stop Home Improvement

Bracing for the Cold: Ice Dams & Gutter Strain

Bracing for the Cold: Ice Dams & Gutter Strain

Has anyone else been colder than usual this winter? Though our winters are milder compared to other parts of the state and country, when you’re used to sunny, warm weather with high humidity during the spring, summer, and even some fall months, wintertime can feel frigid even if the temperatures dip below 50°.

The cold not only makes us shiver, but it can wreak havoc on our homes. Snowstorms that dump even a few inches can put extreme pressure on our roofs and our home’s windows and increase our energy bills. Our home exteriors go through a lot in a given year, but winter can be especially hard on them. Our gutter systems are one of the most impacted components of our homes from winter.

One of the biggest threats to our gutter systems during the winter months? Ice dams. Keep reading to learn about ice dams and gutter strain and what you can do to prevent ice dams from forming on your gutter system this winter.


What are Ice Dams?

Unsure of what ice dams are? If you’ve driven around during the winter months, odds are you’ve seen them on many homes. Ice dams are thick pieces of ice that form on a gutter system. How do ice dams form? When snow and ice get trapped inside a gutter system, the meltwater goes through a cycle of melting, refreezing, and melting again. Large, thick pieces of ice form as the water trickles down the side of the gutter and gets trapped in a vicious cycle of melting and refreezing.

Ice dams are common here in Central Virginia, thanks to our climate. Because our winters are mild yet still can produce multiple snowstorms and ice storms each year, whatever gets trapped in a gutter will likely continually melt and refreeze, with our temperatures fluctuating as often as they do. Daytime highs above freezing will melt the snow or ice inside the gutters, while overnight lows at or below freezing will freeze the melted water. It’s a never-ending cycle that happens here each winter.


How are Ice Dams Dangerous?

Ice dams are dangerous in several ways. For one, they’re heavy and thick, posing a danger to anyone below or near them. Because they’re constantly melting and refreezing, ice dams can get massive and weigh up to 5 lbs per square foot. Imagine how thick and heavy ice dams can get if they’re always in a cycle of melting and refreezing. They put you, your family, neighbors, postal workers, delivery drivers, and pets at risk of a dangerous injury.

Next, ice dams put extra pressure on a gutter system, potentially causing extensive damage. While some gutter systems are heavy-duty and made from durable materials, not all are and can easily get damaged from extra weight and pressure on the gutter system. Since ice dams can be very heavy, the weight of one will cause a lower-quality gutter system or a gutter system that suffered damage from severe weather to sag and tear away from the home. Sagging gutters and gutter systems that start to pull away from a house can damage the roof, soffit and fascia, and even the home’s siding.


How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?


Clean Your Gutters

Ice dams sound pretty awful, don’t they? Since they pose dangers to your loved ones and your home, preventing them should be a priority each winter. For starters, if you have half-round gutters where the inside of the gutter is completely exposed, you’ll want to make sure they’re kept clean. Keeping gutters clean is paramount to ensuring water can flow freely through the system without blockages that impede water flow. Cleaning your gutters will help prevent ice dams, though it’s a temporary preventative measure.


Check Your Insulation

Did you know that poor insulation could be causing your gutters to form ice dams? Some homes have air leaks, which is when heat from inside the home escapes. Air leaks can be near the attic, roof, and even the home’s siding. These air leaks release warm air that helps to melt the ice and snow in a gutter, exacerbating the never-ending cycle of ice and snow melting and refreezing. If you notice icicles hanging from your roof or gutters, it’s time to contact an insulation company to inspect for air leaks.


Repair or Install New Gutters

If your gutters are forming ice dams, don’t sit on them and wait until the springtime to address the issues. If you’re uncomfortable cleaning your gutters, contact a professional gutter installation company like K-Guard / One Stop Home Improvement Shop. We’re expertly trained to assess any gutter system, recommending when a gutter system needs a repair or replacement. Whichever your gutters need, we’re here to help.




Our gutter cleaning and repair service will get your gutters sparkling clean and repaired to face the rest of winter and the seasons ahead. If you choose to install a new gutter system, consider installing our seamless gutters and guards or the K-Guard System. Our seamless gutters prevent clogs from forming and pair perfectly with our Xtreme Mesh Gutter Guard, blocking debris from entering the gutter system. 

We also proudly install the K-Guard System, a complete system with oversized gutters, downspouts, and a curved hood, all of which keep debris out and water moving through the gutter system quickly. Ice dams won’t form as a result of faulty gutters when you install our seamless gutters or the K-Guard System. Plus, we offer excellent warranties that other companies can’t!

K-Guard / One Stop Home Improvement Shop has been installing and repairing gutter systems for decades with tens of thousands of happy customers in Lynchburg and surrounding areas. We can help with all your home improvement needs, whether you need help with an insurance claim or a quote for installing a new roof or gutter system. We’re here to help every step of the way throughout the entire process. Contact us today for a free estimate!