During the winter, it’s not unusual to notice that icicles have formed on your Gutter Helmet system. In some cases, this may be normal and caused by the sun melting snow on the roof. However, in many cases, it may be a sign that your Gutter Helmet is trying to tell you that there is a more serious problem happening.
Why These Icicles Form
These icicles generally are a good sign that your Gutter Helmet system is doing its job of keeping ice and snow out of your gutters. However, a major icicle formation signals that there is significant heat loss from the living quarters of your home into the attic.
Unfortunately, this is particularly a problem here in Michigan. The Department of Energy requires Michigan attics to contain insulation at an R-49, yet the Michigan Residential Building Code calls for only an R-30. This means that almost every home in Michigan is under-insulated. Homes that lack the proper amount of insulation and ventilation are uncomfortable to live in and are expensive to heat and cool.
Basically, you are wasting energy dollars to heat the roof, which causes snow to melt and roll down to the eaves, becoming icicles and ice dams.
The Problem With Ice Dams and Icicles on Your Gutter Helmet System
When your home doesn’t have enough insulation, heat escapes into the attic and warms the underside of the shingles, causing the snow to melt on the roof. The melted water can work its way under the shingles and drop into the attic, ruining your insulation, drywall, and paint.
Then, as the water runs down to the coldest part of the roof (the eave), it refreezes. This causes icicles or ice dams to form whether you have gutters or not. The only difference is that sometimes gutters will “mask” the problem because it takes so long for them to fill up with ice. Homeowners who have Gutter Helmet will most likely notice icicles sooner, as the ice has nowhere else to go.
Either way, icicles and ice buildup may be an indication that you are paying way too much on your heating bills. Additionally, icicles may become a hazard when they begin to melt. As the temperature drops, the water from melted icicles may refreeze and form a type of ice rink, which is especially dangerous around steps and walkways.
Solving the Problem: Adding Insulation and Ventilation
Adding insulation to your home’s attic is the least expensive and best way to reduce or eliminate dangerous ice dams from forming at your eaves. However, that’s not always enough. It’s just as important for your attic to be able to “breathe.”
You can maintain proper ventilation through the use of soffit venting under your gutter area and roof venting at your roof’s peak. When ventilation is not maintained in the correct proportion, the heat and moisture will be trapped inside the attic. This is the main reason that roofs and shingles age and fail prematurely.
Unfortunately, sometimes adding insulation and ventilation is not enough. Homes designed with cathedral or vaulted ceilings make it impossible to add insulation or ventilation. Factors such as extra wide eaves and the direction the house faces can have an impact that cannot be overcome and homeowners have had no choice but to live with the problems associated with icicles and ice dams.
Another Solution: Adding Helmet Heat®
Atlas Home Improvement is proud to offer Helmet Heat®, a unique solution to ice problems caused by these difficult or impossible-to-solve situations. Helmet Heat is an advanced self-regulating heating cable system that is designed to be installed with Gutter Helmet.
The Helmet Heat system works to warm the Gutter Helmet panels, gutters, and downspouts and will substantially reduce icicles and ice formations. The Helmet Heat system is GFCI protected and can be installed at any time.
Protect Your Home This Winter
If you are experiencing any of the conditions described above, with or without Gutter Helmet or even gutters, we recommend having one of our experts come out to inspect and evaluate your home.
It may well be that your home needs more insulation, ventilation, or Helmet Heat! Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation inspection.