Got Brown Icicles on Your Roof? You’ve got a Problem!
Call us at 1-800-ICE-DAMS if you have an ice dam on your roof and live anywhere in the lower 48. We are properly licensed, bonded, and insured, and are the top-rated ice dam removal company in the US. You can end the leaks with a phone call to Ice Dam Guys®.
Have you ever looked up to see a series of brown icicles dripping off your roof? You might have thought, “Jeez, that’s not very attractive,” but you probably went on about your day. What you didn’t realize was those brown, nasty icicles might have been a red alert, warning you that you were about to experience an interior leak, most likely caused by a covert ice dam lurking atop your roof.
A brown icicle usually an early warning system that tells you a roof leak is on the way, unless you happen to have a cedar shake roof. (If you have a cedar shake roof you can probably ignore this article – your roof can turn icicles brown all winter long with potentially no great concern.)
There are three places on your roof where icicles may pick up this kind of discoloration. One is harmless and the other two are not.
Valleys and Gutters
If you see brown icicles, you should hope the problem is in one of these two places. Leaves collect in valleys and in gutters alike, especially if you didn’t take the time to get your gutters cleaned in the fall (tsk, tsk).
How can you tell? Sometimes these sources will cause a really light discoloration, perhaps around the edges of the icicle. It may look a little brown, but not quite like the “food” we ate in the Navy.
The Underside of Shingles
Brown icicles are often a sign that water has seeped under your shingles. The underside of your shingles is a mess of dirt and debris sitting on top of tar. Any water under your shingles will be brownish or blackish, and that water might roll down your roof and become a grungy icicle.
Water that runs by a leaky chimney will take on soot or creosote. Any resulting icicles will have a blackish hue. We’ve seen icicles below a chimney that were black as coal. These icicles will also appear directly downstream of chimney. A leaky chimney is no less dangerous than a leaky roof.
If the only place you see blackish colored icicles is directly downstream of your chimney, you may seriously consider getting a roofer out to have a closer look at your chimney and the flashing around it.
If you see brown icicles…
If you see discolored icicles, along with a thick layer of ice along your overhang, you should call an ice dam removal professional right away. Better to catch the problem early, before a leak spreads to the interior of your home.
Be relieved if you get an early warning sign like this. Not all homeowners get the opportunity to pre-empt an ice dam emergency, or to keep it from getting out of hand.