Winter Gutter Maintenance 101

Tulsa winters bring freezing weather. Ice dams and other winter can cause costly damage to your gutters. Learn what you can do to prevent and remove them.
winter gutter maintenance roofing tulsa

In this post, we are looking at the best ways to clean your gutter before winter arrives. Although using a local roofing contractor is always going to give you the quickest and most effective ways to resolve the issue, there are measures you can take yourself to help remedy some of these matters at home. 

In this post, we look at how, by doing this correctly, you can help prevent ice dams from developing on your roof. We’ll also cover what to do if your roof does end up developing an ice dam as well. 

What causes ice to build-up on your gutters?

prevent tulsa ice buildup damage gutters

Generally speaking, a clogged or slow-running gutter is usually the case of ice build-up on your gutters.

Typically, water will run freely through a gutter, and when free-flowing, it will not freeze. However, if you have slow-draining gutters, this immediately means they’re more likely to freeze.

As the flow of the water is reduced, it presents more of an opportunity for the water to stand, and as soon as below-zero temperatures set-in, it will cause the water to freeze.

How does Ice Damage Gutters?

When water freezes, it expands. This expansion can cause the seams of any sectional gutter to be forced open, which can also cause cracks.

In addition to this, the extra weight of any snow or ice can result in sagging gutters, gutter brackets that are unable to withstand the extra weight, and the impact of this could eventually cause the collapse of the gutter system altogether, causing you to need your fascia repaired.

The connections and corners of a gutter are particularly at risk when it comes to snow or ice damage. 

Even just a minor alteration in the slope of the gutter can result in further drainage issues, not to mention how Unsightly they quickly become. 

ice dam diagram tulsa

Are gutters the cause of ice dams on roofs?

When you think about it, it’s relatively easy to see how gutters can cause ice dams.

If you have a clogged-up gutter which then freezes, it means that the proper drainage of the water is impacted.

As such, even more, water will gather in the top of the roof, and when it reaches the ice dam, it may freeze; this only serves to compound the issue and makes this progressively worse

That said, the vast majority of ice dams on roofs are as a result of poor or inadequate insulation and ventilation.

Having a poorly draining gutter compounds the problem, but it doesn’t usually cause it. 

How can you prevent ice dams?

Although you might believe that by removing the gutters, you are going to reduce the potential for ice dams, this isn’t going to be enough in isolation. Particularly when the root cause of the issue is not the gutter, but the ventilation or roofing insulation.

That said, removing gutters, where applicable and where it is allowed, could reduce your chances. 

In many states, gutters are a mandatory requirement, and removing them with the sole intention of ice dam prevention isn’t always the only option you might have.

Instead, you might want to consider replacing any old guttering to an option that is most suited to your specific property and local climate. 

Some of the other steps you can take to prevent ice dam formation include:

  • Regular gutter clearance
  • Installation of water and ice protector in order to reduce the impact of damage
  • Making sure all gutters are sloped correctly to reduce any standing water 
  • Install gutter guards

In the below situations, you might need to resort to getting your gutters cleaned more regularly than usual. 

  • If you have tall trees or a dense area of greenery outside your home
  • If your gutters appear to be overflowing or leaking 
  • If you experience frequent clogging of the system

How can you get rid of ice dams in your gutters?

Even with preventative measures, Ice dams can still occur. If you’ve developed an ice dam on your roof, getting help from a professional roofing company is usually the best course of action to take.

However, if you know the ice dam is isolated and small in size, it is possible to attempt to address the issue yourself.

Before you do any work yourself, it’s always advisable to consult with a professional roofing contractor first. 

Here are a few practical steps you can take to start to try and remove an ice dam from your gutters. 

  • Use a garden hose or similar attachment to deliver hot water to the ice dam. You should start at the top and slowly work your way down. 
  • Do not be tempted to use an ice pick, either on the roof or gutters as this could mean you might be faced with having to replace them if you cause accidental damage. Do not use salt as this may corrode your gutters. 

If you try the above and there is no movement, then you should call a professional roofing business for their expert assistance. 

What is the best way to get your gutters cleared?

clean gutters winter avoid ice dams

Cleaning of gutters, whether in a commercial or domestic property is a relatively easy process. However, safety must always be of paramount concern at all times.

If your gutters are too high, or you don’t have the right equipment to do it yourself, then hiring a local roofing contractor or gutter clearance company can unburden you of the task, and get the job done to a very high standard. 

#1 – Remove the leaves and any other debris – if you’re going to do this yourself, make sure you know about ladder safety and that you have the correct equipment to do this safely. You can get an extended gutter cleaner or attachment to help, but this won’t allow you to see the condition of the gutters. 

#2 – Get rid of any algae or mold as it can erode or even wear away the protective layer of coating. Algae is also another primary cause of water flow restriction. 

#3 – Try to scrub off any external rust from your gutter system as this can make your gutters weaker. Copper or aluminum are good choices for gutter materials due to the less corrosive properties. 

#4 – Look for any leaks and validate the performance of your gutters. Once you’ve cleared all of the debris, they should flow freely. Make sure you keep an eye out for any leaks during the test. If you any leaks, you’ll need to make sure they are sealed. 

In Summary

By doing regular seasonal gutter maintenance, you can lessen the chances of ice dams developing in your gutters or on the roof.

Don’t forget about your roof. Read our complete guide to pre-winter roof inspections to make sure you’re covered.

It can also prevent damage to your roof and save you from having to pay out for a larger repair later down the line.

At Prestige Roofing, our team can help you with initial guidance, and we can provide you with a fast, free quote for regular roof inspections

Fill out the form below for your no-obligation quote for your roof inspection.