Gutters and gutter drains are absolutely important. You install them on your home to protect it from damage.
The water from rainstorms needs to be drained properly. You use downspouts to direct the water away from your house and toward some type of storm drain.
Some people also have underground gutter drains. The underground gutter drains might be necessary so that the water can be directed to an appropriate location.
If you live in an area that gets rather cold in the winter, you might have issues with the underground gutter drains freezing. This can be very frustrating since that will prevent water from draining properly.
What can you do to keep the underground gutter drains from freezing? Read on to learn all of the important details.
When Do Underground Gutter Drains Freeze?
The underground gutter drains are going to freeze when they get too cold. The temperature has to get pretty low for these underground downspouts to freeze, though.
Typically, they won’t freeze until the temperature gets cooler than 20 degrees Fahrenheit. So this only happens during the coldest times of the year, in most places.
When the temperature is this cold, ice will begin to form in sections of the pipes. Once ice forms in one part of the pipe it’ll wind up spreading to the rest of the pipe.
This is a huge problem because it’ll cause there to be too much water pressure. When the water pressure is very high in the pipe it could even cause the pipes to burst.
It isn’t too uncommon for underground drain pipes to burst when it gets very cold in the winter. This often happens in places that don’t prepare properly for very cold winters.
There are steps you can take to keep these drains from freezing when it gets too cold. You might not even have to do anything depending on how your home is currently set up.
Below, you’ll learn about what can be done to stop the gutter drains from freezing in the winter. Once you’ve learned everything, you’ll understand how to proceed.
1 – Bury the Pipes Properly
Burying the underground drain pipes properly is imperative. You want to bury them twelve to fourteen inches underground to keep them protected.
Generally, keeping the pipes buried at this depth will protect them from the harshness of freezing weather. You might need to take other steps as well, but you should start by doing this.
Do your best to put the pipes at the right depth and in a safe location. It should make it far less likely that the pipes will freeze.
2 – Try Pouring Hot Water Down the Downspout
When you know it’s going to be really cold in your area, it might be beneficial to pour hot water down the downspout. This is a good idea when you live somewhere that isn’t used to getting very cold winter weather.
For instance, you might live in the southern portions of the United States. Many states in the southern parts of the US don’t get that cold during the winter.
However, there can be times when the weather will dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn’t that common, but it can indeed happen once in a while.
Since these areas aren’t prepared for such low temperatures, they won’t have protections in place to protect underground drain pipes. So you might need to take measures to protect your underground downspout when you see that you’re about to have a very cold night.
You can climb a ladder and pour very hot water down the downspout. This hot water can do a good job of thawing any ice that is building up inside the pipe.
Some people even go so far as to connect their hoses to hot water faucets. You can let the hose run for a while and truly coat the downspout with hot water.
This method isn’t as good as some others that you’ll learn about. It’s a good reactionary step to take when your underground drain pipes aren’t protected from freezing temperatures.
You can use this to potentially keep the pipe from bursting. So it’s worth keeping this idea in mind.
3 – Try Wrapping the Downspout with a Heat Cable
Another idea that some think has merit involves wrapping the downspout with a heat cable. You need to make sure that you use a heat cable that won’t put people in danger, though.
It’s necessary to use a self-regulating heat cable for safety purposes. Otherwise, it’d be dangerous when someone gets close to the downspout.
The heating cable is there to keep ice from building up. There are a few ways you can approach using a heat cable.
Some people put heat cables inside the downspout. However, this can only be done if the downspout doesn’t already contain ice.
Otherwise, you’ll need to wrap the heating cable around the downspout on the outside. This can potentially keep the pipe warm enough so that it won’t freeze.
You can use this to protect the underground drain and keep it from bursting. It’s a solid option, but there’s still more to consider when looking into the best ways to protect your underground gutter drains from freezing.
4 – Buy Some Heat Tape
Heat tape is another thing that might prove to be useful in this situation. Heating tape is capable of producing heat.
You can connect it to an electrical outlet and then wrap it around the downspout. This is something you can use when you know it’s about to snow in your area.
For those who live in areas that only get snow and very cold temperatures occasionally, this might be a good choice. You can simply plug the heat tape in and position it around the downspout on an as-necessary basis.
You should be able to get this from a local hardware store. If you have any trouble finding it locally, you can order heat tape online.
5 – Insulate the Piping
Insulating the piping is the best way to protect everything from freezing. It’s very common for the pipes to be insulated when you’re living in an area that has harsh winters.
So people who live in the northern portions of the United States and Canada will typically have insulated pipes. This means that you might not need to do anything at all.
Having insulated pipes will make a huge difference. It’ll help to keep things warm and the pipes shouldn’t freeze over.
Even having your home insulated can help to protect the pipes. Insulating your attic as well as your crawl space is a very good idea.
You can take these simple steps to make it less likely that the gutter drain pipes will freeze. If you live in a cold area, it’s imperative to insulate everything.
6 – Heat Your Home
If your home has some type of heating, it’s less likely that the underground drain pipes will freeze. You see, homes that utilize heating are going to stay a lot warmer than those that don’t.
Not every home has some type of heating solution, though. In many parts of the United States, it’d be unheard of to not have gas or electric heating.
However, in warm parts of the country, there are people who go without heating. This is simply because it doesn’t commonly get cold enough for heating to be seen as a necessity.
As mentioned earlier, it might sometimes get really cold in those places even when it isn’t common. It’s on these nights that homes are most in danger when they don’t have heating.
If you’re only using space heaters, this won’t do anything to protect the pipes. Using a whole house heating system such as gas heating will make a difference.
Protecting your underground gutter drains is more important than you might realize. Having to deal with frozen drains and pipes will not be a good thing.
If you neglect to take action, your underground drain could freeze completely. Sections of the pipe might wind up freezing over, and those frozen sections will eventually spread.
As this issue gets worse, the pressure in the pipe will continue to build. Eventually, the pipe might burst, and you’ll be left with a bigger problem than you bargained for.
Since this is surely something you want to avoid, it’s best to take the advice mentioned earlier. You want to protect your underground gutter drains by burying them twelve to fourteen inches underground.
It’s also wise to protect the pipes on cold nights. You might want to buy heat tape or a heat cable and wrap it around the downspout.
Otherwise, you might have problems with the drain getting frozen. This could prevent the water from draining properly and things will become messy rather fast.
Insulating the pipes is a good idea. If you live in an area that gets a lot of cold weather during the winter, there’s a good chance that your home has insulated piping already.
Knowing what to expect and what steps you can take will make a huge difference. Do your best to make smart choices as a homeowner so that your home can stay safe.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.