The snow and ice battles that we face every winter here in Calgary are well documented. There are sections of the municipal code devoted to how you must deal with snow and ice that falls or develops upon your grounds – which is our specialty – and roads and highways are watched carefully by authorities. But there’s a lot more to it than that!
Watch Your Gutters This Winter
We have all seen icicles at one time or other. Throughout the winter in Calgary, we’ll see some impressively numerous or dangerously large icicles develop anywhere the freeze thaw cycle is working quickly and the drainage of snow melt at the edge of roofs is poor. The presence of icicles is a pretty good indicator of a winter phenomenon known as the “ice damming” of a roof’s drainage system. The leading cause of this condition, one that if left alone may tear the gutters away from your roof through weight, ice expansion, or both, is typically because the gutters are blocked. Leaves, needles, and cones that are not timely cleaned from a gutter before we get snow in Calgary will create a nasty mess that will freeze hard.
Keeping your gutters clear for melt water to run off and drain before it can refreeze is just the first step in preventing ice dams.
Snow fall accumulation on your roof tends to melt from bottom up because your roof is typically darker than the snow. Solar radiation is not entirely reflected by the snow, and the dark color of the roof absorbs the remaining solar energy, making the roof warmer than the ambient temperature. The melting away of the base layer of snow can mimic the conditions of an avalanche, where a slab of accumulation rides away on a softer layer of snow, which is why people slamming the front door can trigger a nasty snow dump upon themselves from the roof.
If your attic or overhead crawl space is not adequately insulated, you are also unwittingly adding an accelerator to the ice damming process. Warmed air escaping the interior of your home or business will rise, finding its way to the underside of your roof, warming it further. When the snow then melts from beneath, the water drains away to the gutters. However, the gutters stay freezing, as they hang beyond the eaves, and this melt water can easily refreeze. Even in a perfectly cleaned gutter, over time, the freezing and thawing of the melt water can create drain blockages all of its own account. These blockages are what is called the ice dam. Just like it sounds, these dams trap melt water until such a time as the entire reservoir in your gutters can become a weighty mass of ice. By the time you see large icicles growing from your gutters, the accumulation of ice may be working water back beneath your roof shingles, into the tar paper, and eventually damaging the plywood structure of your roof itself by causing it to swell, de-laminate, or even rot.
Calgary Snow Removal By Mirage
If we happen to notice a problem with your gutters when we come by to perform your commercial or residential Calgary snow removal, we will certainly let you know and advise you of the next best steps to take. Frozen gutters can be very dangerous and very costly!
Your gutters damming with ice is not a flaw of the roof drainage system. Ice damming is best mitigated through the adequate insulating of the space between your ceilings and your roof line. Despite the darker roof shingles, you can severely check the rate of melt water into your gutters by simply bringing the temperature of your roof to as close to the outside temperature as you can. This way, when strong sunlight is melting that bottom layer of snow, it is not getting any help from your building’s heating system also.
However, best step to combat ice dams is always a complete cleaning out of the gutters. Call Mirage Landscaping for a free quote about all of our essential services or if you require Calgary area snow removal.