Ice Damming: The Winter Gutter Killer

Ice Damming: The Winter Gutter Killer

keeping gutters clean

Keeping gutters clean will increase their longevity, and properly maintained gutters will have a positive influence on your roof, too. Modern residential gutter systems have been around since their invention in the 20th century, but as long as humans have been building structures, they’ve looked for ways to control drainage. Gutter technology and design may have changed since then, but weather still remains a formidable foe, especially during the winter.

As winter begins to intensify, gutter maintenance is just as important as during the warmer months, but the problems are a little different. We know it’s cold outside, but paying attention year round can keep you from needing a whole new gutter installation come spring, so here are some winter tips for giving your gutters a long life.

Ice Damming
During the spring, summer, and fall, home maintenance doesn’t seem like much of a chore. It’s nice outside and the repair work is minimal. As soon as winter hits, our propensity to stay indoors grows stronger just as problems outdoors grow stronger. Snow is beautiful to watch fall, but massive accumulations can cause a variety of problems to your roof and gutters.

When your home is warm and there’s a layer of snow on the roof, the inner warmth of the house will lightly warm the surface of the roof, causing snow to melt. Along with fluctuating temperatures, more will melt, and we all know where that water goes: your gutters. When this consistently flowing water begins to accumulate and freeze in your gutters, the problems begin. When ice has dammed your gutters, water cannot escape, so it finds other places to go, like under your roof.

As ice builds up in your gutters a telltale sign is icicles. They might look pretty, but in reality, they should come as a warning to clean your gutters! Icicles are frozen formations of excess water overflowing from your frozen over gutters! The weight of ice damming and icicles can pull your gutters from your house, damage the seal where your gutters meet your roof, and cause water damage inside your home.

Prevention And Maintenance
Keeping gutters clean is the best way to prevent ice damming. If there’s been debris build up that was left from autumn, that pile up of leaves, twigs, and whatever else is in there gives less surface area for errant water to freeze faster. The density increases and the combined weight of ice damming and debris cause damage much faster.

You should check your gutters during the winter. Keep an eye out for the beginning of icicles. Getting to them early can prevent damage down the road. Another way to protect your gutters is getting excess snow off the roof. If there’s little snow on the roof, the less melt your gutters will have to handle. Wintertime rooftop activities can be dangerous, so be careful or invest in a snow rake for your roof. There are many options that can be used safely from the ground.

Keeping gutters clean is an oft-overlooked part of winter home maintenance that can bite back if neglected. This winter, be on the lookout for these snowy signs of ice dams, address them early, and you’ll save yourself springtime sadness.

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