Gutter maintenance is typically thought about in the summer and fall, but what about maintaining your gutters in the winter? Learning how to keep them protected can help you in the long run.
Be smart and protect your gutters this winter with these tips on how to keep ice out of your gutters and downspouts and how to protect gutter damage from snow.
Why You Should Keep Your Gutters Clear in the Winter
When your gutters are being clogged by debris, it can cause water to pool within the gutter. Then, the water freezes once temperatures get cold enough.
If ice clogs your gutters, it could overfill them causing too much weight for the gutter to hold. This could cause damage such as creating holes in your gutters, which causes leaks. Ice dams can also form, which after becoming heavy enough, can cause your gutters to break and fall.
How to Prevent Gutter Ice Damage
It's important to take preventative measures to keep your gutters safe from winter weather. You don’t want them clogged with ice! Check out these strategic, easy ways to keep ice out of your gutters and to keep your home in great shape.
- Make sure your gutters are clear of debris such as leaves, twigs or other items. Debris can clog your gutters and prevent them from draining properly. This can cause water to pool inside your gutter and then freeze in colder temperatures.
- Keep your attic properly insulated.1 You may not think of your attic when you think of maintaining your gutters, but this can help minimize the snow that melts from the roof and flows into your gutters. This also means you shouldn’t remove any insulation from your ceiling and roof area. If you do notice any spots on your roof where snow is melting, have a professional check the insulation.
- Consider having a professional install a roof heater or heating cables that run on the exterior of your roof system to help with gutter ice dam removal and to melt gutter ice so it can flow through the downspouts at the flip of a switch.1
- Consider having a professional install a gutter heating product to keep ice and snow flowing continuously through your gutters.
How to Thaw Iced Gutters
If your gutters are partially iced, there are a couple of different ways you can melt the ice. One solution is to sprinkle calcium chloride inside the gutters. Make sure you are not using rock salt, as it can corrode the gutter, making it dangerous for you and your family.
Another way to fix ice clogged gutters is breaking the ice with an ice pick and chisels. However, this can damage your gutters and roof when not done properly. Precautions against falling when accessing your gutters need to be taken, so please be very careful to avoid damaging the gutters or injuring yourself if using an ice pick and chisel.
If your gutters are significantly clogged with ice, contact a professional to come remove the ice properly and safely.
Why are gutters and downspouts important?
Gutters are important to have on your home because they protect your home from the damage that rain can cause.
Gutters can also prevent issues such as:
- Potential foundation problems
- Flooding underneath the home or in the basement
- Storm water flooding when proper drainage into gravel area is implemented
- Water damage to your exterior siding
Regular Gutter and Downspout Maintenance
In addition to regularly clearing leaves, twigs and other materials from your gutters, there are other things you can do all year to maintain your gutters.
Regularly check that your gutters are securely connected to downspouts. If you do not have downspouts, they are a smart investment to make sure water's directed away from your home.
You should also check for any warping, sagging, loosening or leaking of your gutters on a regular basis.2
Gutter maintenance can be risky because of the need to get on a ladder, having an icy roof and the possibility of improperly performing maintenance tasks and damaging your gutters. You should always take extreme precaution when cleaning out your gutters or performing any other gutter maintenance. If you are concerned about performing a task yourself, contact a professional who can safely and properly perform the task for you.
Keeping your gutters properly maintained all year long can protect both you and your home. Use these tips to help keep your gutters maintained in the winter, and remember, if your gutters are severely iced or clogged, contact a professional.
- Boone, Mary. "How to Prevent Ice Dams." Zillow Porchlight. January 16, 2014. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.zillow.com/blog/how-to-prevent-ice-dams-142296/
- Telkamp, Mick. "Winter Gutter Maintenance." HGTV. March 22, 2016. Accessed January 18, 2018. http://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/winter-gutter-maintenance.
Topics Home Maintenance