Avoid Gutter Ice Buildup
Unless you have heating elements installed in your gutters – a handy but uncommon feature – you’ll likely have to put up with some icicle formation. And after Winter Storm Stella, that's a definite. But the real danger is when your gutters and downspouts fill up with significant amounts of ice.
Keeping your gutters clean is a year-round priority that we all hate to do. During warmer seasons, clogged gutters can cause rainwater to pool right up against your eaves and shingles, which can cause major damage over time. The water may also overtop the gutters and spill straight down to the ground next to your house, which can contribute to basement leaks, soil erosion and foundation settling problems.
But during the winter, there are additional concerns. If trapped water freezes, it will expand, and that can bend and deform your gutters. In extreme cases, it could even split your downspout open. Additionally, if huge chunks of ice form in the gutters above, the added weight could be enough to cause the gutters to pull away from the house. If pieces of guttering – or worse, huge blocks of ice – come completely loose, they could fall and cause serious injury to anyone standing below.
Winter is a lousy time to be up on the ladder, scraping leaves and twigs out of your gutters. In addition to working in the uncomfortable cold, damp and icy conditions make slipping hazards a real concern. That’s why it pays to thoroughly clean your entire gutter system in late fall, before the first blast of winter weather arrives.
Over the course of the winter, take advantage of fair weather days to inspect your gutters and downspouts for signs of clogs. If you cleaned them well before the start of winter, there’s a good chance you’ll make it until spring. But if you have lots of trees around your house, it’s possible that you’ll need some midwinter maintenance.
If your gutters do fill up with ice, there are some things you can do. The safest and most effective method is to utilize a roof rake. After every heavy snowfall, use a roof rake to scrape the snow away and prevent ice dams from even building up.
A well maintained gutter system is essential to the moisture control needs of most homes. Keep them top of mind to avoid basement leaks as the result of a gutter problem.