Those two adjectives aren’t mutually exclusive. There are quite a few things in this world which possess copious amounts of both beauty and danger. Like a lioness in the wild. A bolt of lightning. Niagara Falls. Female martial artists.
Here’s another phenomenon to add to that list: the icicle. It’s amazing to marvel at one of the wonders of nature that is formed by gradually freezing water droplets. Some of these icicles can get so long that they can’t help but appear striking – as long as they aren’t “striking” your head when they crack and plummet to the ground.
Here are a dozen photos of these beautiful yet dangerous icicles:
Since icicles are formed by freezing water, it’s logical that guttering “bends” are common spots where they develop. As more water flows downward toward a roof channel, it’s more likely to freeze together and form a strong icicle below it.
Even when the snow is still falling, icicles can stretch toward the ground as well. These icicles are likely being aided by an ice dam and/or a clogged gutter.
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the roofline that can act as a foundation for icicles. These ice dams are formed when the snow melts, runs down to the edge of your roof, and then thaws again.
The cause of ice dams is heat that is escaping from your attic or interior ceiling. Over time, these ice dams can lead to water damage in the exterior and interior of your home.
On the bright side, icicles are a telltale sign of ice dams for roofs that are difficult to see from the ground. This can help you identify areas which require better insulation in order to prevent ice dam formation.
But if they are large enough, the icicles themselves can potentially cause damage to people or objects underneath them. If these icicles happen to snap off, they’re heavy enough to cause significant injury or breakage.
And since icicles tend to taper into a sharp point, they carry a puncture or laceration hazard as well. Even if you are only hit by a “glancing blow,” the icicle can still cut, scrape, or tear open dry, cold skin.
That’s the spot where you do not want to be if an icicle starts to plunge toward terra firma. There have even been a handful of fatalities reported from falling icicles over the years.
But icicles are more likely to damage your gutters than humans. As you can see, the considerable weight of the ice can put additional strain on the gutters, which can cause them to bend, crack, or even pull away from the home entirely.
You may be tempted to hack off or pull down these icicles to prevent such damage. But if this is done improperly, the icicles can take the gutters or eaves with them when they fall – causing even more costly damage.
Icicles don’t always form on the first story of a home, either. In fact, any exterior object from a satellite dish to power lines can be fair game for these frozen formations.
How can you prevent icicles and ice dams from forming? Invest in a self-regulating heated cable system like Helmet Heat to prevent the freeze-thaw cycle from taking place.
For more information about Helmet Heat or to set up a free, on-site estimate, contact Harry Helmet today by filling out this form or by calling 1-888-5-HELMET.
Written by Del Thebaud