As winter approaches, do you worry that your gutters will freeze up and won’t protect your home? When gutters are frozen like the arctic tundra they stop working.
You probably already know that once water freezes, it expands. But did you know that when water freezes in your gutters, the expansion can cause the joints to separate and lengths of gutter to crack and warp? When ice builds up in gutters, it can also cause ice dams to form, allowing water to enter under your roof and cause significant water damage both to your roof and the inside of your home. So how do you get ice out of your gutters and keep them from freezing during the winter? The experts at Spout Gutter Pros share some helpful tips:
How To Get Ice Out of Gutters
When your gutters freeze and don’t function properly, your home is at risk for water damage. Not only does ice damage the gutters by causing them to sag and pull away from the roof, but it can also damage your roof and eaves, eventually causing water problems inside. Some ice removal methods like using an ice pick, axe, or blow torch can be dangerous, so here are some safe methods of removing ice when it has already formed in your gutters:
1. Pour Hot Water in the Gutters
Although it can be a pain to do, some homeowners periodically connect a garden hose to their water heater supply. This gives you a continual stream of hot water that can melt the ice in your gutters. If your gutters don’t ice up completely and there’s just one shady spot that ices up, you can pour a bucket of hot water into the gutter.
2. Use a Rubber Mallet
If you gently – gently – tap the side of the gutters with a rubber mallet, the ice will break apart. Scoop out the broken pieces of ice.
3. Rake the Gutters
If the ice hasn’t built up significantly, you can use a long-handled roof rake, preferably one with wheels, to pull the snow and ice out of the gutters.
How to Keep Your Gutters from Freezing During the Winter
Preventing ice from forming in gutters is a lot easier than trying to get it out after it builds up. Here are some important tips on how to prevent ice from building up as freezing temperatures set in.
1. Keep Gutters and Downspouts Clean
Before winter sets in and after most of the leaves around your home have fallen, clean the gutters before temperatures drop below freezing. Moist leaves, twigs, berries, and debris act as a dam and block the gutter’s water flow. When water pools behind the debris, it will turn to ice in the first freeze. Even though it may thaw during the day, it will refreeze at night and continue to build up a thick blockage. It’s a lot easier to clean your gutters before the first freeze than it is to remove the ice once it forms.
2. The Appropriate Slope
The point of rain gutters is to direct water toward the downspouts so check to make sure the gutters have the proper slope so they can do their job. If the gutters are installed without a slope, water will pool in various spots and quickly freeze up. It’s recommended there is ½ inch of slope for every 10 feet of gutter.
3. Remove Snow With a Roof Rake
Here’s that handy roof rake again! Although snow can fall in soft fluffy flakes, it can soon become heavy and dense as it compresses into an icy block. And heavy snowfalls or blizzards can fill your gutters with snow that will quickly turn to ice.
If you use a long-handled roof rake, you can keep the snow cleared off your roof and eaves. This will help prevent your gutters from freezing plus it will help prevent ice dams from forming. Beware when using a roof rake – big clumps of falling snow or ice can be a dangerous hazard. And keep the rake away from power lines.
4. Consider Using Magnesium Chloride
Some people use rock salt (sodium chloride) to melt ice on their driveway or walkways. But rock salt isn’t safe for your gutters, pets, or plants. It can damage the gutter finish and corrode the gutter material, especially aluminum and other types of metal gutters.
Magnesium chloride is a safe product that will keep the water in your gutters from turning to ice. An effective way to make sure the magnesium chloride is working to its max is to fill knee socks or pantyhose with the product and lay them in the gutters. Magnesium chloride works at lower temperatures than rock salt – down to -10℉ – and the subsequent run-off is safe for plants and pets.
5. Install Heated Gutter or Roof Cables
If you’d prefer not to have to constantly check your gutters for potential ice build-up, it can be well worth the investment to buy and install heated gutter and/or roof cables. Both types of cables provide just enough heat to keep ice from forming, giving you the peace of mind to know that the gutters won’t freeze up and can continue to drain water away from your home and foundation.
6. Use Proper Roof Insulation
When warm air escapes from your home through your roof, icicles can form on your gutters, and as snow partially melts, ice dams can develop. Roof insulation not only helps prevent icicles and gutter ice but can lower your utility bills.
7. Install Gutter Guards
Depending on the type of gutter guards you choose, they can provide protection against debris build-up (although even with gutter guards, you should clean out your gutters before the winter season) that can cause ice formation.
To Sum It All Up
Frozen gutters simply can’t efficiently guide melting snow and rain away from your home. If keeping your gutters ice-free is an issue that you can’t handle on your own, a gutter pro can easily manage it for you. A gutter expert has the experience to properly slope your gutters so water won’t pool, is knowledgeable about heated cables, and can remove snow and ice from your gutters and roof – in other words – a gutter pro can efficiently and safely maintain your gutters throughout the winter season so you don’t have to.
Before winter sets in, it’s definitely worthwhile to have a pro clean and inspect your gutters, and handle any other winterizing gutter projects specific to your home. Spout Gutters Pros can quickly connect you with insured and licensed gutter pros near you who are experts at dealing with ice- and snow-related gutter issues. They will provide professional repair and maintenance to help ensure your gutters protect your home from water, snow, and ice damage.
It’s dangerous to climb a ladder in winter. Reduce your safety risks and get a pro to help!
Spout Gutter Pros can quickly find an expert near you who can help keep your gutters from freezing or remove ice from your roof and gutters. Simply ask for a free quote now!