While clean, functioning gutters are important year-round, they are especially important to maintain in winter’s freezing temperatures. As ice forms, it expands—which can mean major damage to your gutter systems. Read on to see what you can do, and what you can use to care for your gutters during this winter…
Winter Gutter Maintenance
It is best to do gutter maintenance before the icy cold conditions of winter set in. However, there are a few tasks you can incorporate into your winter to-do list to make sure your gutters and downspouts are in tip-top shape even throughout the chilliest months of the year.
Maintain Ice Dams
Ice dams, a Minnesota homeowners’ #1 nemesis from November to March, can wreak destruction on your roof and home during the great and terrible winters of the Northern midwest. Ice dams also pose a threat to the integrity of gutter systems by causing heavy, icy buildups and blockages that weigh down your gutters. When ice dams enter the scene, your gutter systems can become warped and even broken.
To avoid potential damage from ice dams, you need to ensure that melting snow and ice have a clear path to flow off your roof and down the gutter system. You can use a special long-handled rake to break up any buildup before it gets too serious, or as a preventative measure, installing heating cables before winter sets in can make a world of difference.
Keep Downspouts Cleared
It’s easy to see when your gutters become cluttered, but downspouts can be trickier. Ideally, water runoff from the downspouts should be diverted several feet away from the house. If water is pooling up or draining closer than ten feet to your home, check the sloping of the downspouts to ensure optimal flow.
Take it for a Test Run
Every once in a while, Minnesota has an unseasonably warm winter day; the perfect day for getting outside, taking your car in for the carwash, and… testing your gutter functionality! To avoid freezing water and accidentally creating blockages in your gutters, a test run is best conducted on a warmer, above-freezing temperature day. To check if your gutters are functioning properly, use your garden hose to simulate water draining through the gutters and downspouts. If you run into any leaks or clogs, you can DIY repairs, or even better, call your local specialist for professional help.
Two Great Gutter Tools for Winter
In addition to these three simple chores, you can arm yourself to combat gutter damage with these two easy-to-get tools this winter. You can find them at your local hardware store or even on Amazon.com in pinch.
1. Heat Tape
Heated cables are a game changer for protecting your roof against ice dams. Similarly, heat tape can be strategically placed to protect your gutters from icy buildup as well! When heat tape is placed along the bottom of your gutters, melting snow and ice will hit a warm gutter and downspout, will keep a liquid form, and will keep everything flowing downwards as it should.
Heat tape is most easily installed as a pre-emptive measure in the fall, but a rare, dry mid-winter day works too.
2. De-Icing Compounds
If you’re facing a tougher battle with ice buildup on your roof and in your gutters, you can always turn to chemistry for help. Calcium chloride ice melters are available to safely break down ice dams on your property. One method of using this de-icing compound involves pantyhose–yes, you read that right! For this approach to ice dams, fill up a leg of an old pair of pantyhose with calcium chloride and lay it on your roof to create a tunnel and break through the ice dam.
Gutter systems are built to be tough, but Minnesota winters can be tougher. Broken, warped, or leaky gutters can be a pain to replace. Sometimes, though, no matter what you do, it just happens. Give us a call at CoMitted 365 for any of your gutter repair or replacement needs!