There is a good answer at the related question What are the pros and cons of installing a roof heating cable? about ice dams and such. I have a dark colored roof and I have dark colored leaf covers (Gutter Helmet, brand). I have a roof snow rake, and I am generally able to keep the ice dams from being a problem. But my gutters and down spouts are white.

When you pull the snow and ice away from the edge of the roof (roof rake), and the sun hits, stuff melts and in my experience on many of those cold sunny days, it drains nicely into the gutters and downspouts where it freezes solid.

If I paint or replace my gutters, would a dark color add sufficient energy to the gutters and downspouts to impact keeping them unfrozen? I looked around online and nothing jumped out at me. It seems obvious that a dark colored item in the sun is going to be warmer than a light colored item, but is there a reasonable chance for dark colored gutters and drains to help with ice issues?

  • 2
    Pirates shouldn't give a damn about ice!
    – DMoore
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:47
  • 1
    I think it is gutters that Pirates should not be concerned about, ice is significant to Pirates on several levels, like keeping beverages cold and navigation. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


I had problems on the south side of the house with the elbow and spouts coming out from the elbow at the ground level freezing up. Last winter I wrapped the bottom elbow and spout with black plastic bags and I had no freezing. You must brush the snow off of the black so the sun can do its job.I am thinking of painting the bottom elbow and spout flat black this year. I am in Wisconsin so the winters are cold.


I don't think we could answer this without knowing things like average temp, your region, amount of sunlight, angle of sun, location of gutters, etc. And on top of that we'd need someone with a good understanding of physics.

Given my limited understanding of physics, I don't think you'd get any noticeable ROI on the effort. The reason a dark roof can melt snow in the sun is that it has mass. So it's not only absorbing more light due to it being dark, but can retain more of it and radiate it back into the snow. A gutter, on the other hand, is very thin metal so has a lot less thermal mass, plus isn't insulated on the bottom side, so half of any thermal absorption it gets is being radiated on the side that it won't matter.


It's not the gutters alone that matter, it's the roof as well. In fact, the roof overhang portion freezing is just as much of a problem, and most shingles these days are darker in color.

Sun exposure IMO is the most deciding factor. The front of my own home is in sun light and the back gets more shade. The back used to terrible ice dams every year guaranteed. The front never gets ice dams, only icicles, and only occasionally, and not every year.


Yes, dark gutters and downspouts would heat up just enough in the sun to allow for some amount of ice melting and flow, and that should start the process of clearing your roof. Be aware that this only works if the entire run is getting sunlight. Luckily for my house, it's square to the street/compass, all on one roof line, and the downspouts are at the corners, so as soon as it gets out of the sun (North/East side) the melted ice has already hit a downspout.

  • I kind of want to paint mine just to see if this works...
    – gnicko
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 2:53

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