How to Prevent Ice Dams This Year – January 2021 Newsletter


With the possible exception of, “my parents are coming to live with us,” no phrase is more frightening to a New England homeowner than, “we have ice dams.”
Hard to deal with once they arrive, these perennial visitors are legendary for the damage they can cause (the dams I mean, not your in-laws).

Despite ice dams’ notoriety, few homeowners understand how they occur and, more important, how they can be prevented. In today’s newsletter, we explain.

Stay well,

Jim Moon
Gutter Helmet and Quality Roofing

How to Prevent Ice Dams This Year

“Ice dam” refers to ice that builds up on the lower edge of your home’s roof, preventing water (or melting ice and snow) from flowing into your gutters and downspouts. Since the water can’t flow off the roof harmlessly, it backs up, eventually finding its way into your home (see diagram).
The ice dam damage usually shows up as water leaking into rooms that are directly beneath the roof, or as water stains on your ceiling, walls and insulation. 

What Causes Ice Dams?

In short, ice dams are the result of temperature differences between the main sections of your roof and the roof’s lower edges or eaves. 
Since hot air rises (think back to high school physics!), the heated air in our homes eventually escapes into the attic (especially if the attic is under-insulated). From there, this warmer air melts the snow on the roof (high snow loads where evaporation cannot occur exacerbates this problem), with the resulting water running down towards the gutter.

As water flows down the roof, it has a tendency to refreeze at the eaves (which jut out several feet from the outer walls and are therefore colder), forming ice which can trap future water flows. Eventually, this water may pool and back up onto the roof, causing the ruinous damage associated with ice dams.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Unfortunately, if you live in New England, ice dams cannot be completely eliminated – the snow and cold see to that. You can, however, greatly reduce their onset and resulting damage by taking appropriate steps.
First, and since ice dams form because of the temperature differential between your attic and roof edges, make sure your attic is properly insulated.MassSave recommends 18-20 inches of blown-in insulation. Not only will this save on heating and cooling costs, it will keep your attic – and, therefore, your roof – colder during the winter months.
Second, make sure the fall season’s leaves have been removed from your gutters, either manually or (shameless self-promotion coming up!) through the installation of The Gutter Helmet® Gutter Guard System. This will keep them free-flowing, reducing ice buildup as a result.
Finally, consider installing our Heated Helmet system – a self-regulating coil that turns on and off as needed, melting the ice in your gutters before it has a chance to form a dam.

Final Thoughts

As with most home-related issues, a good offense is a good defense! Should snow build up on your roof, inspect your attic and keep a close eye for signs of roof leaks. 
If ice dams are found, immediately remove the snow from the trouble spot(s). But please be careful – climbing ladders, especially in the winter, is dangerous and best left to the professionals!


A Healthy Roof is More Than Just Shingles – November 2020 Newsletter

Like a good waiter, the best roofs are the ones you don’t notice – they do their job professionally and efficiently. Over time, however, they need repair and/or replacement.
Read on and I’ll explain how roofs work (it’s a lot more than just shingles!) and their nine essential components.

This will help you keep yours in good shape and, if nothing else, allow you to impress your children with your roof knowledge. (I’m kidding, of course, impressing one’s offspring is not possible.)
All the best,

Jim Moon
Gutter Helmet and Quality Roofing

A Healthy Roof is More Than Just Shingles

To the untrained eye, an asphalt roof looks like nothing more than several rows of neatly arranged shingles. Yes, these are an important roof component – but there’s a lot more going on beneath and around them.
I like to think of a roof as a system of materials and procedures, all designed to protect your home – for up to a quarter of a century! Each component and process is an essential cog in the system, the failure of any one of which can result in a leak or premature failure.

Here are the elements…

#1. Decking. In most cases, decking is made of plywood attached to your home’s rafters. Everything else sits on top. Whenever a new roof is installed, it’s important to have the decking inspected and any damage replaced with new material.

#2. Drip Edge. This goes along the bottom (eaves) and sides (rakes) of the roof and performs several functions. It channels water away from the house while closing gaps between the roof deck and the fascia (boards which cover the end of roof rafters). Drip edge adds a finished look to an asphalt shingled roof.

#3. Ice and Water Barrier. This material typically comes in 3-foot-wide rolls with self-adhering backing and is installed directly on the roof decking. Ice and water barrier protects against leaks caused by roof settling and extreme weather. In harsh climates (like ours!) or vulnerable areas, additional barrier can be installed for added protection.

#4. Flashing. These small pieces of sheet metal are installed over roof penetrations and at junctions with siding, skylights and chimneys. Flashing is installed on top of the ice and water barrier and prevents water from entering vulnerable areas where the roof and other materials meet.

#5. Roof Deck Protection (Underlayment). This is a breathable, but watertight material installed directly onto the decking (above the ice and water barrier), providing a secondary weatherproofing barrier.

#6. Starter Strip Shingles. Installed on the edges of the roof, starter strip shingles are used to minimize the chance of wind damage. Starter strips are nailed onto the ice and water barrier and have an adhesive which bonds to the roofing shingles.

#7. Roofing Shingles. Finally, we get to the shingles! These are the most visible component, providing years of durability and weather resistance, while enhancing the appearance of your home.

#8 Ventilation. This is an often misunderstand element, since many people don’t realize that proper ventilation is crucial to the long term health of the roofing system. Venting reduces temperatures in the summer months by allowing for airflow around the roof decking. It comes in many forms, including ridge venting, soffit venting and gable venting.

#9. Ridge Cap. This finishing material is installed over the ridge (the place where the two sides of your roof meet) and over the ridge vent (if there is one). They enhance the beauty of your home while guarding against leaks at the hips and ridges.
There you have it. Nine essential components, all coming together to create a system for keeping your house safe and dry, 365 days a year!


Do I Need Rain Gutters? – October 2020 Newsletter


Welcome to the first (of many) issues of The Home Maintenance Journalour new monthly newsletter to help you protect your home. Each month, I will share insights and suggestions for maintaining the well-being of your most valuable asset.

I got involved in this business 27 years ago, after my dad had Gutter Helmet installed at his house and invited me over to check it out. I was so impressed with the technology (and it’s come a long way since then!) that I got into the business myself. I’ve learned a lot about home maintenance along the way and look forward to passing that knowledge along to you.

Also, as a Gutter Helmet and Quality Roofing customer, you’ll receive exclusive offers and savings on a range of home protection products and services (scroll down to see our October special).

In today’s newsletter we talk about gutters — how they work and why you need them!

All the best,

Jim Moon
Gutter Helmet and Quality Roofing

P.S. You are receiving this newsletter because you are a Gutter Helmet and Quality Roofing customer. If we have sent this to you in error, please accept our apology. You can unsubscribe with one click in the footer of this email.

Do I Need Rain Gutters?

I never gave much thought to gutters until my dad invited me over to his house to have a look at his newly installed Gutter Helmet. I liked how it looked, but I really liked how it worked.

I remember standing on a ladder dropping handfuls of leaves onto the gutters and then running a hose on the roof to see if the leaves would get caught (they didn’t).

That was 1993. Since then, I’ve been to thousands of customer homes, some of which had suffered extensive water damage due to clogged or missing gutters. On the list of things that can destroy a house, water is right at the top (along with fire).

It does its damage in any number of ways:

  • Foundation damage. If it’s not channeled away from your house’s foundation, water begins to seep into it, eventually deteriorating the structure. Water can also wash away underlying rock and soil which can lead to shifting and cracks in the foundation.
  • Fascia, trim, siding and exterior door damage. When water runs over the exterior surfaces of your home, it can penetrate these surfaces, causing them to rot. This is especially true of wood-based materials.
  • Landscaping. As it falls from your roof, water can erode the landscaping, washing away mulch and vulnerable plantings.
  • Ice buildup. Here in New England, we’ve got the added threat of ice. Unchanneled water flowing off your roof can cause ice to form on driveways, decks and walkways. Ice will then force its way into these materials, causing cracks in the surfaces and creating slip hazards.

The purpose of your gutters is to prevent all that. The rain still falls off the roof (obviously), but it’s channeled safely through the gutters and away from your home.

Does every house need gutters?

No. It depends (mostly) on where you live. If you lived in a very arid climate — Arizona, for example — things like porous gravel under the roof edge and pitched concrete away from the foundation are usually enough.

On the other extreme, certain northern climates or mountainous regions with long winters and high snow loads often don’t have gutters because the potential for ice buildup and resulting roof damage outweighs the benefit.

But here in good old New England, most houses should have them!

How do I maintain my gutters?

The thing to keep in mind is that they only work if the water flows freely through them. 

Otherwise, not only does the water not flow safely away from your house, the gutters themselves (if filled with seeds, branches and other things that fall into them) can make water and ice damage worse than having no gutters at all.

So you need to keep them debris-free, especially prior to winter. That means either climbing a ladder and cleaning them out a couple of times a year, or installing something like our branded product, Gutter Helmet. (Beware of inexpensive products like wire mesh screens which don’t work well and can be difficult to remove and clean.)

Overall, given the damage that water can do to a home, gutters are very much a worthwhile investment. Keep them in good shape and debris-fee, and they will protect your home for years to come!