Gutters are an important feature of a home that helps control the direction of water as it comes down a roof. For homeowners who live in areas that experience below-freezing temperatures, frozen gutters can be a common problem that creates costly damage over time. Taking the proper precautions to prevent it will keep your gutters intact and functional all year.
So what steps can you take to prevent your gutters from freezing or at least decrease the chances that any freezing will cause major damage? In this article, we’ll explain how to keep your gutters in good shape during the winter and other tips to help your gutters function properly.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
It’s not uncommon for leaves to end up in your gutters and even build up. If you have several trees in your yard or trees with limbs over your home, your gutters are likely to get packed with leaves, smaller limbs, and twigs following heavy rain and during the fall. Trapped debris in your gutters can make it easier for water, snow, and ice to get trapped. When this happens, it’s even easier for water to get trapped and freeze during colder months.
One good way to prevent this buildup is by routinely clearing out your gutters, especially during seasons when more leaves are likely to fall. This is a task some people can do themselves, depending on the size of their home. Hiring a professional is a great option if you find this too challenging or risky.
Make Sure Your Gutters Are Sloped
Your home’s gutters rely on an angled slope for water to run through them and away from your home. When the slope is flat, meaning the gutters don’t aim downward, water will remain stagnant and begin to pool. When temperatures drop, any water, ice, and snow still sitting in your gutters will freeze together. As this happens, your gutters will expand as the frozen water expands, which can result in damage.
Because your gutters can shift over time, it’s essential to check their slope throughout the year. As the weather begins to drop, making sure your gutters are positioned properly will make sure water continues to flow in the right direction. If you notice your gutters aren’t sloped correctly or are unsure, a roofing professional like Legacy Restoration can check and make any necessary adjustments.
Install Gutter Guards
Installing gutter guards is a great way to protect the gutters on your home from freezing and freeze-related damage. Gutter guards keep debris like leaves, twigs, and small branches from blocking your gutters. Because your gutters are free of excess debris, water can run freely throughout the system and away from your home.
Added features like heating elements are an additional layer of protection against freezing. These types of gutters are great for homes that frequently experience below-freezing temperatures for significant periods of time.
Apply a De-Icer
Anyone who lives in areas where it snows is familiar with de-icers like rock salt. While it’s a great option to keep driveways and sidewalks ice-free during winter, rock salt is unsuitable for gutters. Salt, in general, no matter what kind, is corrosive in nature. When it comes in contact with metal, salt will wear it away over time and cause the metal to become weaker. Not only does this make your gutters more susceptible to damage caused by frozen water, but it also causes rusting.
The best de-icer for your gutters is one made with magnesium chloride. The best way to apply this specific type of de-icer is by pouring thin layers of it throughout your gutters during the fall. Magnesium chloride de-icers are effective up to -10℉ while rock salt is only effective up to 15℉. As temperatures drop, your gutters will be less likely to develop ice. One added benefit of magnesium chloride-based de-icers is their effectiveness at lower temperatures and their relative safety for plants, animals, and drains that come in contact with your gutter’s runoff water.
Remove the Snow off Your Roof
The perfect time to clean the snow from your roof is before it’s had a long time to build up. Large amounts of snow due to build-up or from heavy snowing during a blizzard can overwhelm your gutters and the measures you took to prevent freezing. While snow isn’t necessarily a direct threat to your gutters at first, once it melts, it has the potential to freeze into ice. If you have large amounts of snow sitting on your roof or gutters, this can refreeze into ice all throughout your gutters,f no matter how much de-icer you applied beforehand.
Staying on top of the snow buildup on your roof can prevent major freezing later. If you’re worried about having to physically walk on your roof to clean it properly, don’t panic. Several tools allow you to rake snow off your roof while standing on the ground. Several versions of snow rakes are available and can do the job well.
Use a Heated Gutter Cable
How easy would it be to directly apply heat to your entire gutter system to prevent it from freezing? While there’s not something exactly like that available yet, there are heated gutter cables that are pretty close.
Gutter cables are a great alternative to going out on your roof and cleaning your gutters after every snowstorm or blizzard. They work by offering a continuous flow of heat through a cable run through your gutter system. They’re specifically designed to handle exposure to water and are safe to use. While not all gutter cables are made equal, there are several quality products available to add to your preventative maintenance during the winter months.
Keeping your gutters ice-free is an important step to preventing irreversible damage and keeping your gutters in good shape. While some climates experience longer, more severe seasons of cold weather, every gutter can benefit from some level of preventative maintenance to counteract freezing. While some standard methods, like rock salt, can cause additional damage to your gutter system, several alternatives are known to reduce freezing without damaging your gutters or the environment.
If you’ve got frozen gutters or want more information on how to keep your gutters ice-free, reach out to Legacy Restoration for an inspection.