Downspouts are among the most important components of your gutter system. It prevents your home from foundation damage, soil erosion, and other water-related issues. Like your gutters, you need to have them cleaned regularly to avoid clogs that can affect the water flow. Moreover, one problem that many homeowners face during winter is frozen downspouts.
A trusted provider of heated gutter systems shares what you should do if your downspouts are frozen.
Why Do Downspouts Freeze?
With clogged downspouts, water won’t be able to escape properly. During the colder months, the water that has settled in your downspouts can freeze. The elbows of downspouts are vulnerable to ice buildup because it is a spot where standing water tends to settle. Your downspouts can also freeze if their bottom mouth is blocked by snow.
You should contact a professional as soon as possible if you have frozen downspouts. Failure to act quickly upon this issue can cause ice to back up into your gutters. The additional load on your gutter system will compromise its structural integrity. Over time, your gutters and downspouts will pull away from your home, causing huge problems, such as poor drainage and water leaks.
What Can You Do About It?
Clear Away Any Snow Buildup
Some professionals believe that homeowners should leave their frozen downspouts alone. It may be better to wait for the ice to melt if the temperatures in your area will go up soon. If the cause of the issue is snow buildup around the bottom of the downspout, removing snow from the area may do the trick.
Thaw Frozen Downspouts
Only when it’s safe to do so and you are comfortable with getting on a ladder, pour warm water into the top opening of the downspout. You can also connect a hose to a hot water tap and use it to thaw the ice. The warm water may be enough to thaw minor ice buildup in your downspout or get rid of blockages caused by the debris.
A much safer option is to run hot water down the exterior of the downspout near where the ice buildup is. If you have metal downspouts, the heat may be sufficient to create a means for the water to flow through the component again.
Don’t Try to Use Force
Do not attempt to use heavy force if the water is not enough to thaw your downspouts. You should not use a hammer or a bat to try and break up the ice inside because it will only do more harm than good. What you can use instead is a consumer-grade heat gun or hair dryer to heat the outside of the downspout near where the ice blockage is. Start from near the bottom of the downspout, working your way up. Keep in mind that you should not directly heat the downspout through the bottom opening. You could be in danger of electrocution if the ice breaks all of a sudden and water and ice rushes through the opening.
Prevention Is Always Better than Cure
When your downspouts are not frozen anymore, there are different things you can do to prevent them from refreezing. You can attach a heat tape to your downspouts or a self-regulating heating cable to maintain an above-freezing temperature inside them. You can run a heating cable inside the downspout as well but not to clear the ice blockage because these cables won’t wheel when submerged in water. Consider adding heating cables along your roof near the gutters to minimize the possibility of ice dams in your gutters.
Another thing that can prevent your gutter and downspouts from freezing is Helmet Heat®. This product is wired throughout your gutters and downspouts. Its cable changes in temperature based on how hot or cold your roof is. It melts snow even before it reaches the eaves of your roof, and water flows down your heated gutters and downspouts. With Helmet Heat, you don’t need to worry about frozen downspouts of icicles hanging on your gutters. For quality Helmet Heat and gutter installation services, you can count on Barry Best Seamless Gutters.
Gutter and Downspout Maintenance Tips for Winter
With regular maintenance, your gutters and downspouts would be able to divert water effectively at a safe distance from your home. They will do a great job of keeping your home and foundation protected against the harmful effects of pooling water. Gutter maintenance matters more during the colder months because as the ice expands, the risk of fascia and foundation damage increases. It can delay the need for a gutter replacement and save you on costly repairs.
Make Sure Your Gutters Are Not Clogged With Debris
Keeping your gutters clean will not only prevent clogs but also prolong the life of the system. However, if an active clog is causing problems, it’s best to wait until the ice melts. This task is also best left to professionals for your safety. An experienced contractor would focus on corners and junctions where debris tends to build up.
Invest in a Gutter Protection System
With Gutter Helmet®, you don’t need to worry about constantly cleaning your gutters to keep them clog-free. It fits effortlessly over new and existing seamless gutters and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Whether you have an asphalt shingle or a metal roof, this gutter protection system will work efficiently. It is also available in a wide range of colors to complement your roof.
Check Your Gutters for Leaks, Gaps, Holes, and Rust
Aside from regular cleaning, you should also have your gutters routinely inspected. Professionals will look for indications of rust, leaks, or holes. These issues are more likely to develop at the joints of the system, on the welded edges of the metal. If your gutters are severely dented, rusty, or deteriorating, it may be time to replace them. Make sure to invest in a gutter company that doesn’t only install high-quality products but also offers superior workmanship.
Moreover, rust, holes and leaks in your downspouts must also be addressed immediately. Have the problems fixed and replace downspouts that are irreparable. If the runoff pool is quite near to the foundation or walkways, consider using downspout extenders to improve drainage.
Look for Signs of Structural Damage
Go outside and look for signs of water damage on your fascia, siding, and foundation. Some of the most common indications of water-related damage include rotting, staining, and mold growth. If there is obvious damage, look for the source of the water and have it repaired as necessary.
Inspect Downspouts and Diverters
Your gutter system should divert water at least ten feet away from your foundation on a downward slope. Check if the water is directed away from your home and if it does not pool. Think about detaching the downspout from your rain barrel if you have one. You can place it back when the weather becomes warm again or add a hose to the barrel to divert water away from your house.
Don’t Allow Snow to Build On Your Roof
Snow buildup on your roof will flood your gutters once it melts. Excessive snow buildup may require professional attention. Be sure to get rid of heavy snow buildup before it causes damage to your gutters, siding, and roof.