Although they may look beautiful in the bright sunshine, icicles hanging from your roof are a sign of danger for your gutters and your roof. If your gutters were functioning properly, the water that has spilled over the side of your gutters and frozen in place would have drained effortlessly into your downspouts and away from your home.
Why do icicles form on your gutters?
If you didn't have roof gutters, rain water and melting snow would simply flow over the edge of your roof and pool at the foundation of your house, leading to eventual foundation damage. Although water is seemingly the most yielding of substances, it can cause considerable destruction over time.
Gutters catch the runoff water from your roof and redirect it toward the downspouts. The downspouts then deposit it far enough away from your home that it doesn't collect along the lower level of the home.
However, water isn't the only thing that flows into your gutters. Dirt, leaves, and other debris will collect over time, and because your gutters are in a horizontal position, the combined contaminants can dry into a hard sludge in the warm sunshine. This hardened buildup is difficult to dislodge as water runs right over it.
Over time, the sludge accumulates to a point that it restricts the flow of water to the downspout. The gutter then fills with water that flows over the edge, turning into ice as temperatures drop.
What's the problem with icicles if the water is still flowing away from the house?
Icicles, along with standing water and ice inside the gutters and the sludge that is causing the blockage, weigh heavily on the gutters. This can cause the gutters to pull away from the exterior wall of the home. Water can then flow behind the gutters and freeze and expand, pushing the gutters even further from the wall.
This allows water access to the wall itself, where it can begin to wear away the wood and enter the home.
How can you return your gutters to their proper function?
The gutters must first be cleaned, which requires removing the buildup of sludge that is entrenched within them. This sludge can be difficult to remove and surprisingly heavy for its volume.
The wall behind the gutters must be inspected for possible damage, which, if found, must be repaired before water can enter your home and cause significantly greater damage.
Securing the gutters to the exterior wall first requires that the gutters be pitched, or tilted, on a slight incline toward the downspouts. This is important, because water flows downward and will build up in the end of the gutter that is farthest from the downspouts if the pitch is incorrect.
Securing the gutters will then be required by hammering in the roof spikes or tightening the screws that secure the gutters to the roof.
Gutter work is as difficult as it sounds. It's not only dirty and heavy work, but it's also work done by ascending and descending a ladder multiple times as you move along the length of the gutters.
Do yourself a favor and call a professional gutter service. You can then admire the beauty of the icicles through your window with a cup of hot coffee before they are removed and your gutters restored into functional shape once again. For more information, contact local professionals like Hogan Roofing.