Gutter Guard Icicles

Now that parts of the country have started to see temperatures drop below freezing, it’s a perfect time to revisit gutter guard icicles because most people who have recently purchased a gutter guard would not have experienced this issue before.

Gutter Guard Icicles
This is a house with gutter guard icicles and MasterShield. The temperature of the roof is higher than the gutter and icicles have formed.

So, should you expect gutter guard icicles? The answer is a resounding yes. We have tried to be very upfront on this point, but let’s be as “in your face” about it as we can: you may get huge icicles, you may get small icicles, you may get no icicles. We don’t want to give anyone the impression that, as a product, that we are designed to do anything other than solve the problem of the need to clean your gutters or from having your gutters clog from debris in the first place. Does that sound a bit too straightforward? We hope not because we feel you’d be better off expecting you will get icicles rather than be surprised if they occur once a gutter guard, ours or anyone elses, is installed.

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Gutter guard icicles form because the metal or plastic used in the manufacturing process freezes just like everything else around it when the temperatures drop below freezing. Once the product is frozen it won’t thaw again naturally until temperatures rise above freezing. In the interim, if there is frost, rain or snow, the surface of the product will be inpenetrable, just like the frozen surface of a lake. When this happens, if the roof temperature heats up faster than the metal of the gutter (because the heat that you use to heat your home is escaping through your roof and not from your gutter, for example), water can run over the gutter guard and drip. These drips will cause gutter guard icicles to form.

Can I avoid Gutter Guard Icicles?

Yes, you can. You can heat your gutter and gutter guard. With MasterShield, this is as simple as running heat tape or heating cables under the product. Our installers have the details on how to best do this. Many heated systems automatically turn on as soon as the temperatures drop below a certain point. Keep in mind that installing and running a heated gutter guard can get quite expensive. Some heated products cost more than $40 a foot to install! In many cases, it’s just not worth the expense to avoid gutter guard icicles. When it snows, you’d be better off keeping your gutter guard clear with just a snow rake, it will dramatically cut back on the number of icicles that form.

Here’s a perfectly good reason for being a “thin” gutter guard (MasterShield’s strength comes from all of the bends in the product). Thinner profiles will thaw faster than thicker profiles, found mostly in an extruded gutter guard. They’ll also transfer heat more efficiently, so if you choose to heat them, heat radiates through the product faster and more of the product can be heated with less wattage. You’ll also want some of the heat to be transferred to the gutter, since you’ll want the water away from the area that you’re trying to heat. Keep in mind that any runoff will eventually freeze somewhere else and problems of a different nature can occur.

If you think a few days with icicles will bother you more than having to clean your gutters, think carefully before purchasing any gutter guard. Are gutter guard icicles worth avoiding? We’d say yes if they impact any entranceway into your home. And before you get caught in a non-stop spending cycle, a $30 snow rake might just be a reasonable and cost effective way to manage the problem in the first place.
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