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  1. #1
    Martin Crean's Avatar
    Martin Crean Guest

    Default Snow and Ice Buildup

    Hi Group....

    Please see the attached photo. I was asked by one of my property manager clients to inspect the entry way at some of their condos in Northeastern Wisconsin.

    The issue which they are experiencing is one of ice and snow buildup above the entry. When these accumulations begin to melt, water builds up on the sidewalk to the entry and subsequently freezes. Sometimes the ice accumulation is of sufficient thickness that it is not possible for the homeowner to open the storm door.

    From the photo you will notice that the downspout is on the left. The water from the gutter on the right must make its way towards the entry way and then across the entry way and then over to the downspout.

    I was able to make one observation for my client that the downspout side gutter was biased towards the entry way forcing the water to have to push "uphill" towards the downspout. This was resulting in water pooling in the gutter over the doorway and the water then running down on to the sidewalk and later freezing.

    I am not certain that the sole solution is to adjust the angle of the gutter. Personally, I'm not impressed with the design and not even sure this is a good design for our climate (ie; lots of snow)

    What are your thoughts about this issue?

    Thanks,

    Marty

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Crean View Post
    Hi Group....

    Please see the attached photo. I was asked by one of my property manager clients to inspect the entry way at some of their condos in Northeastern Wisconsin.

    The issue which they are experiencing is one of ice and snow buildup above the entry. When these accumulations begin to melt, water builds up on the sidewalk to the entry and subsequently freezes. Sometimes the ice accumulation is of sufficient thickness that it is not possible for the homeowner to open the storm door.

    From the photo you will notice that the downspout is on the left. The water from the gutter on the right must make its way towards the entry way and then across the entry way and then over to the downspout.

    I was able to make one observation for my client that the downspout side gutter was biased towards the entry way forcing the water to have to push "uphill" towards the downspout. This was resulting in water pooling in the gutter over the doorway and the water then running down on to the sidewalk and later freezing.

    I am not certain that the sole solution is to adjust the angle of the gutter. Personally, I'm not impressed with the design and not even sure this is a good design for our climate (ie; lots of snow)

    What are your thoughts about this issue?

    Thanks,

    Marty
    After having the gutter adj. for proper flow install heat tape designed for roofs and gutters. Apply the tape to the whole U shaped entry on the roof including the gutter and down spout. Do not purchase a cheap kit from a big box store, use a local plumbing supply or order on line.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Yes bad design for location. Promotes excessive build up.

    The gutters appear set at a static point as most are due to appearance. If gutter were set with a real downward pitch it will be noticeable at bottom of fascia. Many do not like that appearance. Though it allows the gutters to work better. The problem you are having may be as a result of the water that is in the gutter (residual) not fully draining is freezing and making the situation worse. Do you know if they have dad a problem of Ice Damning?

    1) Reset gutters to higher pitch angle.
    2) Reset gutters to higher pitch angle and add drop to other side of walkway.
    3) Increase dsp size
    4) increase dsp and gutter sizes ( 2x3 to 3x4 and K5 to K6 )

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 03-09-2011 at 07:47 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Omaha
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    I would look at several things. I agree the gutters do not have enough pitch to get the water out.

    I would also look at insulation levels, air leaks into the attic and roof venting.


  5. #5
    Frank Suchodolski's Avatar
    Frank Suchodolski Guest

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    With the double valley coming down over the door, a steeper angle on the gutters isn't going to be enough. Either a heat trace on the roof to melt the snow before it comes over the gutter or install a snow fence to keep the snow on the roof.


  6. #6
    Frank Suchodolski's Avatar
    Frank Suchodolski Guest

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    222

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Robert's on the right track. Begin by investigating the causes of the ice build up and see if they can be corrected to mitigate the severity of the damming. It's common for multi-unit complexes to have had the clothes dryer or the bath vents empty directly into the attic or not vented directly outdoors. Of course these will heat the underside of the roof and melt the snow causing the water to run and ice up at the cold eaves.

    The gutters appear to be as good as they could be in that situation. They even have a larger downspout installed, one mark of a better installation. At least they HAVE gutters to keep runoff water out of the entryway where it could cause sidewalk or foundation damage due to freeze thaw cycles over time.

    Heat tape systems are the least desirable remedies for ice damming. Unless the tape is turned on BEFORE the snow falls and is left on ALL THE TIME DURING SNOWFALL, they only melt a tiny bit of snow creating a cavity under there that will stay hollow and no more snow will be melted until it comes in contact with the cable again. If the area gets iced up, that may be a long time. If a cavity forms the electricity and $$ are spent for naught. Of course, if left on all the time, there is the electricity cost increase. If the people own the condo they most likely will not turn on the heat tape in a timely fashion nor turn it off again. If they are renters, the odds of lack of use or system abuse goes up exponentially more.

    Downspout heat cables are a bit better but still burn lots of energy and if the SOURCE of the trouble is not corrected, only compound the problem by adding financial cost to operate and labor problems to maintain them.

    Bottom line; to preventing ice damming keep the attic properly vented and insulated and as near the outside temps as possible. Then keep the 3' or 4' of roof from the gutters upward free of snow using a roof rake. No matter what you do the gutters WILL ice up because they're cold but at least the damming should be minimal.

    It's best to have someone melt the dams and gutter ice with steam and simply start over again.

    Ahhhh. How I miss all that!!

    Beacon Inspection Services
    Proudly Serving the Greater Henderson and Las Vegas Valley Area in Southern Nevada!
    Like Beacon On Facebook

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Re: gutter pitch:

    "Folded" gutters can be deceptive about their actual run and ideal pitch.

    For example, at that property, if you are pitching 1/16" / ft and each side is 15', that's a total of 2-1/8" over 34'.

    Even at half that slope, the desired drop is still over one inch.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 03-14-2011 at 07:01 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Luxemburg, Wisconsin
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Hi Marty,

    This topic is one of many we discuss at our monthly meetings of the Fox Valley Chapter of the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors (WAHI). You might consider joining as an affiliate member (I noticed that you are not a member nor a WI licensed home inspector). Your inquiry leads me to believe you are somehow involved with property management or maintenance, or construction. What do you do and where are you located?

    You can find out more about WAHI at Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors, Inc.. I invite you to join us as a guest at our next meeting - you can get some insights about your topic. Bring photos.

    We meet at the Main Event in Little Chute at 6:30 PM this Tuesday, 15 March. As a guest your dinner is on us.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Holladay, UT
    Posts
    565

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Martin, Here is some ice damming management information that is more up to date than the old heat tape. Hope this helps:

    Ice Dam Management : Nielco Roofing and Sheet Metal

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  11. #11
    Martin Crean's Avatar
    Martin Crean Guest

    Default Re: Snow and Ice Buildup

    Just wanted to thank everyone for being so helpful and taking the time to share their insights. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    Thank you also Bruce for the invite to the WHIA and I will consider this. Currently I'm an active member of three different associations but will keep you in mind. Yours would be a very good fit for me.

    Thanks again....

    Marty


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