Frozen gutters are potentially a hazardous condition. Removing the accumulated debris from inside of the gutters before the freezing temperatures move in is critical. If your gutters are clogged with debris and they become frozen, then it can become very difficult to remove the debris so that the gutters can drain properly. This is why you must clean your gutters “before” they freeze to prevent damage.
Debris accumulation that becomes frozen can be extremely heavy and will cause the gutters to become loose over time. If the gutters are not secure this can cause the gutters to fall off the house completely. Frozen gutters are also known to pull the wood trim off the house along with them when they fall. This is very problematic for many reasons.
When gutters fall off a house, they expose the wood behind the gutter to the wet weather. Moisture, wind, and temperature changes can all take a toll on the exposed wood. The paint that protects the wood can be diminished and the wood itself will deteriorate if unprotected for any extended periods of time. If the wood is pulled off with the gutter when it falls it can expose your attic to the cold weather and to wild animals who may be looking for a warm shelter.
Clogged gutters prevent water from flowing down the downspouts and draining properly. Backlogged water stems from poor drainage in the gutter system usually caused by improper pitch or blockage from debris such as leaves, twigs, acorns, bird’s nest, and other foreign objects. This can cause water to fill up the gutter trough and then overflow. If the temperature drops below freezing, then the overflowing gutters will develop into ice sickles. As more water drains from the roof the ice will continue to increase in size and weight.
Snow that accumulates on top of roofing surfaces can melt during the day run down into the gutters and re-freeze at night when the temperatures drop again. This can also contribute to the increase in size and weight of the ice in the gutters. Poor attic insulation and insufficient ventilation are typically the main causes for ice accumulating on the roof. Having no room to drain, water from melted snow on the roof will run over the gutter lips and may form icicles in subfreezing temperatures. All of this increases the risk of property damage and costly repairs. Cleaning your gutters before they freeze will help.
Ice build-up will add significant weight to the gutters and cause them to loosen, sag, leak, and/or break. Gutter hangers may come loose in one or more areas along the gutter system due to the weight of the ice dams and icicles. Hanging gutters may eventually break, fall off and even damage the fascia board in the process. We have seen cases where falling gutters have damaged windows and cars.
Frozen gutters can damage roofing surfaces in the winter. This could happen during freezing and thawing cycles where water melts during the day and then refreezes overnight causing ice to remain on the roof for extended periods of time. The weight from accumulated ice and snow may cause shingles to shift and allow water to seep into and underneath the shingles which can often lead to structural damage.
Water from frozen gutters and downspouts can leak into the home, through the attic, and cause damage to the ceilings, walls, insulation, rugs, carpets, furniture and more. Moisture stains may appear on walls or drywall causing plaster to crack. Water spilling over the gutter lips can flow or seep into the basement causing cracks, creating mold, and even weakening the structure’s foundation over time.
Moisture in the attic or basement ceilings and walls is known to attract insects and create mold. Insects feed on the moistened wood and destroy it in the process. Toxic or black mold can easily form in moist, dark environments where there is poor ventilation such as in the attic or basement. Besides being a health hazard, black mold destroys ceilings, fascia boards, walls, insulation, rugs, carpet, and furniture if not promptly removed.
The best way to prevent frozen gutters is to stop ice dams from forming in the first place. These preventative steps may be helpful but are best undertaken by a combination of roofing, insulation and gutter professionals:
Cleaning your gutters before they freeze is very important. Routine gutter cleaning and maintenance throughout the year especially before winter helps prevent ice damming. Cleaning could be required several times a year depending on the surrounding tree coverage near your home. Your gutters and downspouts may need cleaning more often depending on the type of trees around your home and if those trees or foliage persistently shed leaves, twigs, and other tree debris.
Properly insulating and ventilating your home, particularly in the attic, can effectively prevent ice dams on roofs and in gutters. Warm temperatures beneath the roof help to melt snow and ice that accumulate on the rooftop and allow the water to run off instead of refreezing into solid ice blocks.
Gutter covers can also provide an additional layer of protection that can prevent frozen gutters. Gutter protection helps keep debris out of gutters to promote the free flow of water and lowers the chance of ice formation.
CLICK HERE for more information on Downspout Clogs.
Cleaning frozen gutters is a task that should be left to the experts in gutter cleaning. The professionals at My Gutter Pro Gutter Cleaning in Maryland can handle all the work of cleaning the gutters at your home. We are a fully licensed Maryland gutter cleaning company that services central Maryland.
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