Are your gutters prepared for the winter weather? You may be surprised by how much damage a little ice, snow, and wind can do. Without proper winter maintenance, your gutters can clog, crack, and even sag from their hinges. Use the following tips to protect your gutters from ice damage.

5 Tips for Winterizing Your Gutters

  1. Clean your gutters. When leaves, twigs, or other debris clog gutters during winter, rainwater and melting snow can overflow and freeze on the ground. This ice around the home and on pathways can create a slipping hazard. Before the winter season begins, use three easy steps to clean and inspect your gutter system—even if you have gutter screens.

  2. Fall leaves clogged in the guttersTrim your trees. Leaves may continue to fall into your gutters after winter begins. You can reduce this debris by trimming back the tree branches near your roof. Also, if ice and snow weigh down the branches, the limbs can snap and damage your roof and gutters. Before you get started, talk to a tree service professional to ensure that a late fall or early winter trim will not harm your trees.

  3. Try a test run. To make sure that your gutters are functioning properly, run water through them with a garden hose and check for any leaks or clogs. If you find any problems, use a gutter repair guide or contact a gutter specialist for help.

  4. Technician checks the gutter systemInstall gutter heat tape. During the winter, water can freeze in gutters, creating ice dams that cause snow and ice to accumulate on the roof. The backlog can result in water damage, so remove the ice by hiring a professional to install heat tape or an electric heating cable for gutters. These cables, unlike other cords, are designed to produce a lot of heat, so they must be installed precisely. If they overlap, the cables can overheat and cause significant damage. For heating cable installation, the wires should be installed in a zigzag pattern inside the gutters and drainpipes.

  5. Use de-icing compounds. If your home has a problem area where more ice and snow accumulates on the roof, use a de-icing barrier. It will melt ice and snow before it slides off the roof, which helps prevent ice dams in gutters. Fill an old pair of pantyhose with de-icing compounds, such as calcium chloride, and lay the hose across the roof. The chemicals will melt the snow and ice, and water will flow, preventing sagging gutters or broken hinges.

With these five tips, you can easily prep your gutters for winter, but the process will run more smoothly if the gutters are properly maintained year-round. Use these three basic tips to protect your gutters in any season.

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