What To Expect From Gutters During The Winter

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Snow and ice build-up in open trough gutters is one of the biggest contributors to gutter failure. This build-up is caused by insulation, ventilation, and environmental factors. Heat loss from inside the home causes snow to melt and run down the roof and refreeze at the roof’s edge and eventually inside an open trough gutter. Covered gutters will typically have less ice but more icicles which can be confused with an ice dam. An ice dam is actually when this build-up causes water seepage under the roof shingles and into the living space or behind the gutter causing damaged fascia and eventually causing the gutter to fall off of the house.

Every home will have some ice and snow build-up that is independent of the type of new gutter system on your home or it’s installation. Most reputable gutter companies, make no warranty with regards to function or potential ice damming with rain gutter systems unless it is a heated gutter or heat cables are added.

If you are considering open trough gutters:

Open trough gutter systems are almost exclusively installed using hidden brackets, which are screwed to the fascia to provide maximum support of ice and snow loads. Consider aluminum fascia coverage as additional protection for the wood fascia if seepage behind the gutter should occur.

If you are considering Gutter Covers:

Covered Gutter Systems provide protection against ice and snow build-up in the trough, which minimizes the potential for the gutter system to separate from the house.  You may experience more icicles with a covered gutter but the system is less likely to be damaged from the ice and snow. The system should also thaw out more quickly and function properly once the weather improves. Consider aluminum fascia coverage as additional protection for the wood fascia if seepage behind the gutter should occur.

If you need to Remove an Ice Dam or Install Heated Gutters:

Ice dam removal can be a very difficult task and is best left to someone that is comfortable working on ladders or has the necessary safety equipment to work from the roof. Hacking away at the ice can cause damage to your gutter system and, more importantly cause damage to your shingles and roof. Steaming ice out of gutters is an effective way to remove ice from gutters and remove ice dams from the roof without causing more damage.

Heated gutters can aid in preventing ice dams and icicles in the first place. In areas that it isn’t cost effective to increase insulation or ventilation to minimize the snow from melting off the roof and re-freezing at the roofs edge, heat cables can be installed onto the roof, in the gutters and downspouts, or onto covered gutters to prevent the melted snow from re-freezing. Cables can be installed by the homeowner but is best left to either someone comfortable working on ladders or a professional gutter company or roofing company. Cable connections to power should be completed by a licensed electrician and not just hooked up with an extension cord to be sure all safety precautions are taken.