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How to Keep Your Gutters and Downspouts from Freezing this Winter

Worried about winter weather damaging your gutters? These tips can help protect your guttering system from damage.

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A functional gutter is an essential component of your home’s exterior waterproofing. It collects and directs rainwater and snowmelt away from the roof and away from your foundation. But can your gutter system survive the harsh winter?

During winter, homeowners in Columbus, OH, grapple with frozen gutters and downspouts. This comes about when temperatures drop and water solidifies into ice. What this does is prevent water from flowing down the spouts and away from their homes. Icicles may form as water freezes, thaws, and refreezes.

When the gutters and downspouts freeze up, your home may suffer a host of problems, including:

  • Damage to your roof and wood fascia
  • Foundation damage
  • Garden and landscaping issues
  • Stains on sidings and concrete 
  • Water flooding your basement
  • Gutters falling off due to the weight of the ice

While there are many methods to defrost your gutters, we highly recommend that you take some time to understand the most effective solutions. This way, you can stop your gutters from icing up in the first place.

gutters freezing in the winter

Ways to Keep Your Gutters From Freezing in Winter

Before the weather gets too cold, here are a few things you can do to prevent your gutters from freezing up.

Install Heat Panels

This system provides an effective way to treat gutters that frequently freeze. A heating panel contains wires or heating elements that run down a gutters’ length. These wires warm up your gutters and melt the snow before it forms into damaging mounds of ice, which weigh down and damage your downspouts. 

Keep Your Gutters Clear

During winter, your gutters work hard to deposit rain and melting snow away from your home. If your gutters are not clear, dirt and debris may block them, causing water retention. This water freezes up and adds unnecessary weight, which can damage your gutters and downspouts. 

The best way to prevent your gutters from freezing is to invest in professional gutter cleaning every six months to clear out any debris and blockage that may lead to water buildup. Removing the debris will allow water to flow right through, preventing your gutters and downspouts from icing up.

Insulate Your Roof and Attic

When your roof or attic is excessively warm, it melts the snow above it. The snowmelt runs down the rooftop, and as it reaches the edges where there is no warm roof beneath, the water refreezes. As this happens, the water expands and pushes against the roof shingles, causing damage.

To prevent this, add insulation to your attic. Insulation prevents heat from flowing upwards to the roof. It ensures you stay warm inside but keeps your roof colder. Make sure to insulate recessed lighting fixtures to prevent them from heating your attic. Also, ventilating the attic allows proper air circulation, which ensures that the roof is uniformly heated. 

Invest in Gutter Guards

The trees surrounding your house and other debris can substantially compromise the effectiveness of your gutters. If trees and bushes heavily surround your home, consider installing a gutter guard.

A gutter guard, when appropriately secured in place, has a filtering effect on the roof. It allows water into the gutters and filters out leaves and other debris. This helps prevent blockages and keeps water flowing, which prevents ice from forming in your gutters.

What Not to Do When Your Gutters Ice Up

In the unfortunate event your gutters end up freezing, here are some things you should avoid doing as they could worsen the situation:

Hammer down ice

Do not take a pickaxe to your frozen gutters. This may cause more harm than good to your gutters. If your gutters are already frozen, the best thing you can do is wait for the ice to thaw. 

Thaw out your gutters

You will end up spending hundreds of dollars on a steam system or hot water application to clear the ice, but the result is not permanent. The chances are high that you will find the same spot frozen a few days later.

Use salt and other chemicals to thaw snow

Professionals advise against using salt and other chemicals to melt snow. These corrosive chemicals can damage your roof, siding, and gutters. Moreover, the runoff becomes toxic and is harmful to your lawn.  

Ohio Basement Authority has been helping homeowners to protect their homes from water damage and frost in winter. Be sure to schedule a free waterproofing inspection before the first snow. 

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1270 Hillsmith Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45215

Columbus Office
2421 McGaw Rd.
Obetz, OH 43207