Your gutters need to work properly to protect your home. If the gutters stop working, it’ll potentially cause damage to your home.
Water might pool, and this can cause your roof or the foundation of your home to get damaged. It can be very dangerous when your gutters start to freeze, too.
Sometimes people who live in cold parts of the world will have to deal with ice dams in their gutters. As you’d expect, these ice dams prevent the gutters from functioning normally.
How can you prevent this from happening? Keep reading to learn about how you can tackle this issue safely.
Why Do Gutters Freeze?
As you’d expect, gutters will freeze when it’s very cold outside. So if you live in an area where the temperature dips below freezing often, it’s possible that your gutters could freeze.
That isn’t all that there is to consider about this issue. Often, gutters will freeze because there is a blockage of some sort.
When there is a blockage in your gutters, water will get stuck instead of flowing. The water is meant to flow through the gutters and toward the downspout.
The downspout then carries the water out and guides it somewhere safe. When this can’t happen due to blockages, the water is just going to sit in the gutters.
This water that is stuck in the gutters will freeze if it gets very cold. So you’ll be left with chunks of ice in the gutters that will become a big problem.
You don’t want to allow these ice dams to form in your gutters. This is why it’s important to keep your gutters clear so the water can flow normally.
How to Keep Your Gutters From Freezing
Keeping your gutters from freezing will be easier if you perform regular gutter maintenance. There are a few things that you should be doing to protect your gutters during the winter.
Below, you’ll get information about things that will help to protect your gutters from freezing. Follow this advice, and you shouldn’t have to deal with ice dams in your gutters at all.
1 – Keep Your Gutters Clean
Keeping your gutters clean is the biggest thing that you can do to protect them. Remember that gutters often freeze due to water getting stuck instead of flowing naturally.
The water gets stuck in the gutter when there’s a blockage of some sort. It could be that debris is stuck in the gutter, and that is keeping the water from flowing as it should.
Ideally, you should be cleaning out your gutters once or twice per year. It usually isn’t necessary to clean the gutters more often than that.
To clean the gutters, climb a ladder and pull the debris out of the gutters using your hands. Be as safe as possible while reaching when you are on the ladder.
It’s best to have a friend or family member with you to steady the ladder. Also, you should wear gloves so you don’t get scrapes or cuts on your hands.
2 – Salt the Gutters
Putting salt in the gutters can help to prevent ice from forming. This is a good way to prevent gutters from freezing.
The concept is the same as protecting your sidewalks and your porch from ice in the winter. You likely use salt as a method to keep your walking paths safe on your property during the winter months.
You can also put salt in the gutters to help prevent freezing issues. The same type of salt that you use to salt your driveway, porch, and sidewalks can be used in the gutters.
Of course, you don’t want to clog the gutters with salt. This would cause other issues.
Just put a bit of salt in the gutters to help protect them from freezing. It’ll be beneficial, and you should be far less likely to have your gutters form ice dams.
3 – Keep Your Roof Clear of Snow
Too much snow on your roof can become a big problem. It’s a bit dangerous to do this, but some recommend shoveling your roof.
If your roof is full of snow, shoveling the roof off will help to protect the gutters. Of course, you shouldn’t attempt this if you’re too scared.
You can try to use a snow shovel from a ladder and get the snow away from the edges near the gutter. It might be tough to do this, and you should have a buddy steadying the ladder.
Snow and ice are slippery, and you don’t want to get seriously hurt. You could look into having professionals clear your roof off every so often.
This will cost you money, but it could help to keep the gutters from freezing. Consider this if your roof is having issues with snow piling up way more than it should.
Another idea is to use a roof rake to safely remove the snow from the ground. A roof rake is a long type of rake that you can manipulate to try to pull the snow down to the ground.
It can be a bit tough to work with a roof rake, but it can get the job done. Look into getting one if you get a lot of snow during the winter in your area.
4 – Ensure That Gutters Slope Properly
It’s also worthwhile to ensure that your gutters slope properly. Your gutters need to slope a bit so that the water will run toward the downspout.
Otherwise, the water could get stuck and will wind up freezing. Flat gutters won’t drain properly, and you’ll have to deal with ice dams as well as other issues.
Do Gutter Guards Cause Ice Dams?
You might think about using gutter guards to keep debris from clogging the gutters. This is a good idea since it does make gutter maintenance easy.
However, some people are worried that installing gutter guards will cause ice dams. Is this something to be concerned about?
It can if something goes wrong. For example, gutter guards could add extra weight to the gutters and cause them to fall down a bit.
This can prevent water from flowing normally and might cause ice dams. Properly installed gutter guards shouldn’t cause ice dams, though.
Just make sure that your gutter guards are installed safely and that your gutters are securely fastened to the fascia. Also, remember that you still need to clean the gutter guards off, or debris will pile on top of the gutters.
How to Get Ice Out of Gutters
Getting ice out of gutters can be a bit of a pain, but there are things that you can try. One good idea is to try to melt the gutter ice using hot water.
Climb a ladder and pour hot water directly onto the ice. Hot water should melt the ice, but it can be a bit problematic trying to get the water up to the gutters.
The best thing to do is to climb a ladder without holding anything and have someone on the ground hand you the water vessel. Ideally, you should use a tea kettle since it’s less likely to spill.
Pour the water as safely as you can while ensuring that your friend on the ground doesn’t get splashed with the hot water. This should melt the ice over time, but you might need to use hot water several times, depending on how bad things are.
How to Melt Gutter Ice
Above, you learned that pouring hot water on the ice can help to melt it. This is really the best way to go about melting the ice.
Otherwise, you can try using calcium chloride to melt the ice. You can buy products that are advertised to melt ice at stores.
These products contain calcium chloride, and you can melt the ice over time. This is better used as a preventative measure.
Earlier, you learned that putting salt in the gutters is a good preventative measure to protect your gutters. It can also work as a way to melt ice, but it doesn’t do so fast.
You can wait until things warm up to see if the ice goes away on its own as well. This won’t be ideal if you’re having problems with leaks or if you’re worried that the gutters will fall due to the weight of the ice.
So hot water is truly the best course of action. You should stick with that in most situations.
Do Gutter Heaters Work?
Heated gutters work to an extent. However, you should know that heated gutters can’t outright prevent ice dams.
Some gutters are sold with heaters inside that keep them warm enough so they won’t freeze. This isn’t 100% effective, though.
Ice dams can still form in gutters when blockages occur. If there are issues with the water flow and the temperature is very cold, it’s still probable that ice dams will form.
So some think that buying gutter heaters is a bad investment. Many say that these heaters work nicely, but they aren’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t have to deal with ice dams.
How Do Gutter Heaters Work?
Gutter heaters make use of heat cables to keep the gutters warm enough. Water that flows through the gutters should remain liquid instead of freezing.
The heat cables heat the water from underneath. It can help to prevent ice issues, but it isn’t foolproof.
How Hot Do Gutter Heaters Get?
You’ll find that gutter heaters can get very hot. They can get much hotter than you need them to be.
Many gutter heaters can get as hot as 160 degrees Fahrenheit. So you should be careful when using these heaters so you don’t get burned.
You’ve learned a lot about gutters and ice dams now. This information should help you to understand your options when dealing with frozen gutters.
The best thing to do is to try to prevent the gutters from freezing in the first place. Keep the gutters clean and clear of debris.
You can put salt in the gutters as a preventative measure as well. Even clearing snow off of the roof using a roof rake can be helpful.
If ice dams form in your gutters, it’s best to try to melt the ice using hot water. Some people choose to install gutter heaters to help out during the winter, but this isn’t something that works 100% of the time.
It may be worth the investment in your situation. Be sure to look into your options so you can keep your gutters from being frozen.
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.