When most homeowners think about home gutter maintenance, they think about performing it during the summer and fall. Gutter maintenance is not often thought about during the wintertime; however, winter may actually be one of the most important times of year to perform maintenance on your home's gutter system. By becoming familiar with how to protect your gutters during the colder weather, your roof and gutter system as a whole will thank you in the long run.
Why It's Important to Clear Your Gutters During the Winter
If you allow your gutters to become clogged by dirt and debris during the winter, it can result in pooling water in the gutters. When water pools in the gutters, the water will then freeze when the temperatures drop to freezing or below.
Then, if your gutters become clogged by ice, it can result in the gutters overfilling as a result of an excessive amount of weight, resulting in serious damage to your gutters. Your gutters may suffer damage like holes, which could then cause leaks. In addition, ice dams may form, potentially causing your gutters to break apart and fall.
How You Can Prevent Damage to Your Gutters from Ice
To prevent winter weather damage to your gutters, you need to take certain precautionary measures. Here are a few strategic steps you can take.
- Keep all debris out of your gutters, including leaves, twigs, etc., so that your gutters don't get clogged and they aren't able to drain properly and so ice doesn't form when temperatures freeze.
- Make sure that your attic is adequately insulated, as this will help to minimize the amount of snow that melts off of your roof and flows into your home's gutters.
- Consider having heating cables or a roof heater installed on the exterior of your roof to assist in the removal of ice dams and the melting of any ice in the gutters.
How You Can Thaw Ice in Your Gutters
If you notice that your gutters have ice in them, it is important that you remove that ice as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary damage. You have a couple of options at your fingertips. You can start with sprinkling calcium chloride in your gutters — not rock salt, as this can actually corrode your gutters.
Alternatively, you use an ice pick and chisels to break the ice into smaller chunks and remove them. However, if this process is not done properly, you may damage your gutters as well as the roof — not to mention you may hurt yourself. If there is a significant amount of ice in the gutters, it may be in your best interest to contact a gutter installation professional to safely and properly remove the ice.