You can never go wrong about maintaining your home by cleaning the gutters prior to every winter. Everything is going to freeze eventually but you want to make sure all the drains are clean so that the water can drain properly.
Ice dams are dangerous and eavestrough are the number 1 source of ice damming. If the water is trapped inside the gutters ice dams will get much bigger than you expect. Also having dryer, kitchen hood fan vent and bathroom fan vent exiting from the soffit can be source for the ice dams. Hot moist air feeds the ice dam by creating a cycle of thaw and freeze, which turns into a missive iceberg in no time. These are the potential problems that can occur during cold winter months.
Be sure to clear all the dirt, leaves and debris from the gutters and reinforce any lose or saggy sections by using screws not nails. Never use a nail unless u can screw it. Be sure to re-caulk all the vents, exhaust vents and all the exposed finishing nails. Look for popping nails and remove them. Once removed apply caulking to the nail hole and apply pressure to make sure caulking gets right in there.
It is highly recommended to hire a professional roofing company to perform such task. If it is safe and accessible for you to perform go right ahead. Secure your ladder from the top and the bottom before getting up there. Do not lean side to side, just get down and reposition your ladder.
I have to admit this past week was extremely crazy. My phone did not stop ringing for the past 5 days because of all the houses that got flooded because of the ice dams.
Homeowners starting to understand the importance of a good quality roof instead of a quick fixer upper. The money they saved on the roof replacement plus few more thousands to the repairs to correct the issues and maybe a new roof. Ice dams does not form on its own. It requires either direct sunlight or heat loss thru your attic to form ice dams. Proper ventilation is one of the issues. When the vents get covered by snow, it makes it harder to vent our or even does not vent out at all. When the hot air gets trapped in your attic if will push back thru the ventilated soffit and start to form ice dams along the gutters. Hot fumes will melt the snow and turn it into ice over night. Eventually it gets bigger and wider. Whenever there is a warmer day, snow melts and it polls up behind the ice dam. It wont take a long time until you can see it dripping from your ceiling.
Here is my advise to the homeowners, don’t try to save couple of hundred dollars during replacing your roof. Make sure drip-edge is installed along all the edges. Depending on the slope of your roof have ice and water shield installed at least 6 feet from the gutters maybe more if needed. And have the rest of the roof covered with felt/tar paper or anything similar.
When we replace a roof our minimum usage of ice and water shield is 6 feet. Regardless of what the slope is, it is our company policy install 6 feet of ice and water shield and 100% felt paper and of course maximum ventilation.