Gutters are one of the most important investments you can make to protect your home from the elements in any season. Like any investment, it is important to periodically maintain them, and ensure they’re up for the challenge that the elements will pose- this ensures that they will be able to serve and protect for years to come.
Gutters are the front line of defense for many aspects of your home including the walls, foundation, and roof, so what happens when your gutters are out of commission due to unforeseen winter conditions?
When Ice isn’t Nice
Fall and Winter gutter maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure that your gutters are safe from any clogs that may prevent water from flowing freely. Cleaning and flushing your gutters with water can remove much of the risk associated with the winter freeze. It is also important to make sure your gutters are not damaged or sagging, as this will require repair or replacement of your gutters.
Another commonly unknown issue that may occur in gutters is an improper slope. If gutters are not sloped enough (½” down for every 10′ in length is a good rule of thumb) the water may stall and freeze in colder months. If your gutters are not sloped enough, it is best to call a professional to replace or repair your gutters to ensure that they are correctly positioned.
What if My Gutters Freeze?
It sounds like a very daunting issue, but if taking measures to prevent gutter freeze doesn’t work or if you were unaware of the necessity of performing gutter maintenance, you can still save your gutters. There are a few ways you can go about clearing the ice or snow, but it is important to perform these measures as soon as possible after you discover an ice blockage as it may cause sagging, warping, or rupturing of the gutters.
One of the best ways to clear the ice is to run hot water through your gutters. Even on quite cold days, the hot water will melt the ice and carry it away from your gutters. If you do not have hot water access outside your home, simply hook a water hose to the hot water intake for your washing machine and start the flow. This may take a while and a lot of hot water, so be patient and make sure you won’t need hot water for a while elsewhere.
An additional way to clear ice from your gutters is to gently break it up with a rubber mallet and then scoop it out. This method works well for metal gutters but is not recommended for PVC gutters as it may cause damage. To prevent gutter damage from the rubber mallet, make sure not to hit the gutters too hard.
A combination of using the hot water and rubber mallet techniques may be the most efficient method for you because it clears the large and small chunks of ice from your gutters. In all this gutter freeze clearing, make sure to stay safe by keeping your ladder on stable ground and taking your time. If the situation is extremely serious, it is best to call a professional such as Gutter Pros to assist with clearing and repairing your gutters.
Frozen gutters are a very scary thought for most people, but in most cases, they are preventable by regular maintenance. On the rare occasion that well-maintained gutters are blocked and become frozen, it is possible to fix them before damage occurs. If you are uncomfortable clearing ice from your gutters or if you are interested in learning more about gutter maintenance, call Gutter Pros or check out their blog for more information and assistance.