Whether you’ve just had brand new gutters installed or you’re banking on your old reliable ones to get you through the cold season, giving your gutters some TLC is crucial to getting through the harsh winter weather. Many homeowners tend to ignore their gutters during the winter thinking everything will be frozen, and it’s mainly snow that they need to contend with. However, overlooking gutter care before winter starts can be a crucial mistake to make.

In fact, the Insurance Information Institute found that insured losses from winter storms in the United States cost $5,996 million in 2022. And one of the major reasons for claims in winters is ice damming, reports Thinkinsure Canada, although not all homeowner insurance policies cover this. Read on to learn how you can protect your home from winter damage by getting your gutters ready for the winter.

What Are Ice Dams and How Are They Formed?

Ice dams are dams of ice that block water draining off your roof and through your gutters. They are formed when snow on the roof melts and refreezes at the edge of your roof preventing water from draining off. One cause can be poor insulation in your attic while poorly maintained gutters is another. Ice dams can weigh a few hundred kilograms which can damage your roof. Ice dams can be formed in as little as one inch of snow. However, six inches of snowfall create the greatest danger of ice dams forming. Apart from damaging your roof, ice damns can cause water to leak into your home, damage gutters, pipes, and siding or may even break off and injure people walking underneath. The many adverse effects should make preventing the formation of ice dams a priority every winter.  

Gutter Care for the Winter

Your winter gutter care should start in the fall and be carried out regularly until winter sets in. Read on to see how.

  • Clear Debris from Gutter Troughs

Leaves, twigs, and other debris don’t just accumulate on the ground during the fall, they love to gather in your gutters and downspouts too. If you don’t clean them out before winter, this debris can freeze and cause blockages that prevent water from draining off your roof. Clean your gutters paying special attention to corners and joints. While you may consider carrying a little bit of damage control out during the fall months, make sure you give your gutters a thorough clean after the last of the leaves have fallen. You can also consider installing gutter protection systems to prevent debris from building up.

  • Check for Leaks

Leaky gutters can cause water to build up near your foundations which can lead to flooding or even structural damage. Drips from your gutters can also result in your rot in your home’s sidings. It’s best practice to check your gutters for leaks once you have cleaned them of debris and have any signs of damage such as cracks, holes, or rust spots repaired or replaced immediately. 

  • Check Your Downspouts

Pay attention to your downspouts along with your gutter troughs. Make sure they are draining water away from your home without any water pooling close. The minimum recommended distance from your foundations is 10 feet. If your downspout is attached to a rain barrel, detach it until spring. Another option is to add a hose to the barrel drain to divert water that’s passing through it away from the house. 

  • Install Heat Cables

Heat cables are designed to melt snow and ice on your roof before it has a chance to form into ice dams. These cables are easy to install and can be a great way to prevent ice dams from forming. They can be placed in gutters, downspouts or under the eaves of the roof. 

  1. Shovel Your Roof

Shovel your roof after heavy snowfall. This means that snow is cleared from your roof before it has a chance to melt and form into ice dams. You can use a snow rake but we recommend you  hire a professional to remove the snow for you.

If you need help or honest advice regarding the condition of your gutters and whether you need to replace them, European Gutters can help. Our highly qualified affiliates provide and install premium gutter systems from Lindab RainlineTM across the country along with gutter guards and more. Get in touch with us to learn more or ask for a free quote today.