Icicles and Gutters

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Home Improvement

A winter wonderland is never complete without icicles.  Those who enjoy the visual stimuli of frozen water hanging down, understand: Icicles on Chicago’s homes and structures sparkle.  Icicles warm our heart in an otherwise cold, dead environment.  As a kid, I always would play with icicles.  My friends and I would play a simple game: get the biggest icicle.  Whoever got the biggest, had bragging rights.  Icicles were used as swords, a friendly game of the survival of the fittest.  My life was shaped by outdoor activities like icicle picking, while others would be inside on the tv or playing video games.  I am advocate of letting kids run around outside.  I believe it develops problem solving skills.  However, icicles in general are dangerous for people and your home.

            First, falling icicles can harm or kill you.  In Illinois, there is a 3.45 per 1,000 rate of ice, sleet, and snow-related occupational injury and illness rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2019).  I could not find reliable sources for icicle injuries around the home.  However, the dangers of icicles can be profound.  Falling ice can make a simple cut, cause concussion, break bones or even death.  Secondly, ice formations can weigh down a structure.  Ice dams can form when snow melts because of warm roof or attic and will freeze on a gutter.  This puts stress on the overhang and roof.
            It is the responsibility of homeowners to clear snow in the city of Chicago.  Icicles may fall in the same category, if they fall on sidewalks.  You do not want to be liable for an injury cause by snow and ice.  So how do you mitigate icicles?  Below are solutions for your icicle gutter issues.
1) Before wintertime, clean your gutters.  Clear leaves and debris to ensure proper gutter flow.  If water can flow through the gutters and down the downspouts, there is a lower chance that ice will form over the gutters and overhang.
2) Install roof heat cables.  Roof heat cables are supposed to heat the gutters and roof edges.  They should melt snow and ice.  This in theory will minimize ice formation in gutters which may spill over and drip down.

3) Keep your attic ventilated.  Warm air pockets within the attic can cause snow to melt and freeze in gutters, creating ice dams.  If the attic temperature is relatively close to the outside air temperature, there is a smaller chance of dam formation.  Insulated the floor of your attic.  Insulating the floor should reduce the amount of heat rising from within the house.
            Icicles on gutters can be a beautiful example of winter.  However, the dangers to humans and structures outweigh the view.  Icicles can be mitigated by cleaning your gutters, having roof cables installed or having your attic optimized.  With some ambition, some of these projects can be done by you the homeowner.  If you would like to hire someone, a trusty general contractor can point out which issue you might have.  Either a gutter or attic problem.  I recommend Intex Construction.  Contact Alex for all of your needs (847)-691-2192!
"Ice, sleet, and snow-related occupational injury and illness rate down in 2017." Bureau of Labor Statistics.  2019.