Not much thought is given to our gutters when running around trying to keep everything else functional, especially during the off-seasons like winter and summer. But they endure a lot of weight and freezing temperatures during the winter, making it extremely difficult to continue draining water away from the property. If not, both snow and ice will accumulate within the gutters, contributing to roof leaks and even basement flooding, causing extensive water damage over time.
Even gutters that are maintained can still experience issues such as ice buildup, icicles, and ice dams. While they look pretty, they contribute to significant structural damage to your home.
Even if you’re thinking of investing in expensive gutters so you don’t have to worry about them during the winter, think again. Those that are installed properly will also strain under heavy snow and ice.
Here’s how to keep your gutters functional through the winter:
Install gutter guards
Gutter guards are great for reducing debris, especially for leaves during the fall and snow during the winter. Preventing the debris from accumulating within the gutters can prevent both blockage and unnecessary weight during the colder months.
There are a number of different gutter guards available.
Invest in heating elements
This is not a common idea, but gutter heating cables can melt snow and ice which will prevent ice dams and icicles as well as take the weight off of your gutters. How does this work? The gutter heaters will heat the water and allow it to flow down the spouts, away from your home.
Although this is a temporary solution; the real problem should be addressed with the 3rd solution below.
Gutter heating tip: Both the heating cables and gutter heating systems should come with a thermostat and controls so you can turn them on at any time, preventing both overheating and overuse of electricity.
Install insulation and ventilation in the attic
Not having enough insulation and/or venting in the attic is one of the main contributors of ice dams. This is because the heat from your home causes snow to melt on the roof. As the water runs down, it will sit in your gutters and refreeze – creating an ice dam over time.
To tackle this problem, ensure to keep the snow off your roof, either using a shovel or a professional snow removal service. You can also add additional insulation in the space underneath the roof to keep the snow from melting and trapping the heat in your home.
Adequate ventilation will also prevent the risk of winter mold and allow air to flow properly out of the home. If good ventilation is not in place, mold removal services may be needed during the winter.
Providing extra insulation and improving the ventilation will both prevent the buildup of snow melting from the roof.
Add bracing hardware or gutter brackets to reinforce the gutters
Even the strongest gutters that are properly installed can fall off during a heavy snowstorm. But there are ways to add extra support.
Installing gutter brackets will provide the following benefits:
- Add support to the installed anchors to improve the gutters load-bearing capacity.
- Prevent the gutter from weakening/structural damage from too much weight.
Add a water and ice membrane to the roof
You can prevent water damage from moisture by installing ice and water barriers in your roof. Most homes will have these membranes already installed underneath the shingles during the construction process. But these will become weakened over time. If you have an older home, you may want to look into replacing the roof to prevent the risk of leaks.
But you shouldn’t replace the roof simply because you need a new ice and water membrane. It would make more financial sense to wait until the roof needs to be replaced before replacing the barriers.
Preparing Your Gutters for Winter
While these steps have proven to help homeowners prevent structural damage caused by ice dams and icicles, the best way to avoid this is by inspecting your roof and getting a professional gutter cleaning in the fall. By clearing away the leaves, sticks, dirt, and other debris, water can flow freely through the downspout and away from the property.
In fact, investing in a gutter cleaning service can save thousands of dollars in restoration costs and a massive headache in the winter from a roof leak or flood.
Be sure to conduct the following to prepare your roof for winter:
- Identify and replace any loose or missing shingles.
- Inspect your roof and gutters for any signs of dents, small tears, or holes from hail or wind damage. Your insurance company should be able to help pay for these repairs.
- Inspect the flashing around the chimney or roof projections to prevent water from entering through the cracks.
- Add extensions to your downspouts to send all melting ice and snow away from your home’s foundation.
- Inspect the attic, upper crawlspace, or ceilings for any water stains or leaks. Repair the damage quickly and contact a roofing service to conduct any repairs before the next rainstorm.
Get Professional Water Damage Restoration
As shown above, there are many ways to prevent water damage during the fall and winter from ice dams and icicles. But as water damage is the most common type of disaster, there are simply too many potential sources and pathways for water to enter the home.
In the case that your home has water damage or is flooded, don’t hesitate to contact ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors. Our water damage restoration contractors are available 24/7 and will respond immediately to your first call.
Upon our arrival, we will prevent the water from spreading, performing water extraction techniques while also conducting a detailed inspection to determine the scope of the project. This is followed by installing professional drying equipment, including air movers and dehumidifiers to remove the moisture from the affected building materials and spaces. Any soiled drywall or flooring will also be replaced if needed.
Finally, anti-microbials will be applied to prevent any mold from growing in the drying areas. After ensuring that the source of the problem has been resolved and the water damage is restored, we will work with your insurance adjuster during the claims process.