Got Icicles?

Snow Covered Car

Here at the Brad Nale household we do. Unfortunately. True, they’re cool to look at and some can grow quite large and interesting, but icicles hanging on your house’s gutters and eaves is not a good thing. For one, they can be quite dangerous when they fall. For two, they generally mean you have poor drainage and have or are going to have water damage to your eaves. Yeah, not good news.

What causes icicles is melting snow that does not drain in to your gutters, then down and away from you house. Water flows in between the eave and the gutter, dribbles through slowly, drips down just enough, and freezes. Expanding as it freezes it helps to make room for the next dribble of water coming down, then that freezes, and so on, until you have a large frozen spike of water hanging on the edge of your roof.

Water should melt, run down the roof, over the drip edge and cleanly in to your gutter. Then as it melts it will drain down your downspouts and away from your house. If you have icicles it can mean that your gutters are pulling away from you house and/or that you need drip edge installed.

Drip edge is a length of sheet metal, shaped to slide in under the first row of shingles and then over the edge of the gutter, securely directing drips of water well down in to the gutter, with no chance of dribbles ending up where you don’t want them.

What to do now if you have icicles? Well, knock them down if you can, before they fall on someone’s head. Have your gutters inspected or look at them yourself if they’re not too high up. See if your gutters are pulling away from the house. Many older homes have gutters that are simply nailed on with long nails. These pull out over time. There are many types of newer brackets that hang gutters more securely and can fix this. You may need to wait until it warms up a bit – okay this winter’s been plenty warm and dry – but still you’ll want a very dry and moderate temperature day to look at and maybe repair these.

Of course, this makes me think of all the Hollywood gutters that bad guys hang on and downspouts that they climb up. I am not recommending that you do this, but if you tried climbing your downspouts or hanging from your gutters, I think you’d find that they’d pull right off your house. Except in the movies, they’re simply not designed to hold the weight of a villain – or a hero! 

Most Ace Hardware stores can help you with brackets and parts to repair your gutters and downspouts if you choose to, but sometimes this is a job better left to the people who do this every day with the right tools. Besides, you don’t want your mind in the gutter any more than necessary to get rid of your icicles. I know my mind will be in the gutters this spring. I’ll let you know what happens with mine.

In the meantime, this is Brad Nale for the Helpful Hardware folks at Ace Hardware.