When it comes to the cold weather months, there are many things you may have to keep in mind as a homeowner. If you live in an area of the country that gets a lot of rain, sleet, or snow, one common problem you may face is frozen gutters. Frozen gutters refer to gutter systems that are filled with water or snow that freezes, turning into ice. This subsequently prevents the gutters from functioning correctly and can be a big winter problem for homeowners.
Frozen gutters can cause damage to the gutters, the area around your home, and even the eaves where the gutter is installed. While there are many DIY methods to defrost your gutters, taking some time to understand the best ones, or how to prevent ice from forming in the first place is important.
At Smart Exteriors, we’re home improvement experts—and we’re always happy to help homeowners in the Kansas City area learn more about taking the best care of their homes. In this guide, we’ll go over what to do and what not to do when gutters are frozen solid, and how to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Why Do Gutters Freeze?
There are a few different reasons why gutters may freeze, depending on your specific location and climate. One of the most common reasons for gutter freezing is a blockage that causes water to build up and turn into ice. This is usually the case in areas where trees drop leaves, limbs, and berries into gutters, causing buildup over the years. This buildup will not allow water to flow adequately through the gutter, and when coupled with freezing temperatures, this rain freezes.
Another reason a gutter may freeze is due to snow or sleet build up in the gutter. If snow starts to build up in the gutter and freezes before it can melt and flow through properly, you can have problems. This is usually the case in areas that see more snow throughout the winter. The good news is that both of these issues are preventable.
Here’s What Not to Do When Removing Ice from the Gutters
We’ll explain how to prevent frozen gutters from forming in the first place—but first, let’s take a look at what not to do when ice has already formed.
Pour Salt Directly On Ice: One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to defrosting frozen gutters is to use salt directly on the ice. While this can help to slowly melt the ice in some cases, it can do more long-term harm than good. Salt can corrode and damage gutters over time, which will only make your situation worse. Not to mention, it is going to be a very time-consuming method if you decide to go this route.
Using Salt Filled Stockings: Another commonly used method is a pantyhose filled with salt. The thought behind this method is to not allow the salt to damage the gutters by keeping it contained in the pantyhose. While this is a relatively safe method, it is going to take a seriously long time to get the job done. While it may be ok for smaller jobs, this is not going to be the route you want to take when dealing with larger ice problems.
Here’s What You Should Do When Your Gutters are Frozen Solid
Frozen gutters are a common problem for many homeowners and there are many ways to deal with the problem once it’s happened. Take a look at some of the best ones here:
Use Hot Water: One of the easiest and most effective ways to unfreeze your gutters is by pouring hot water onto the ice. It is no secret that hot water melts ice, but getting hot water up to larger roofs may be a pain. A common method that is used by many who use this method is hooking up a water hose up to your hot water supply from your water heater. This will give you a constant stream of hot water that can be used to defrost the ice that is stuck in your gutters. For those who are dealing with a smaller, more convenient spot, a pot of hot water may be easier to use.
Use a Roof Rake: Ice dams can make frozen gutters harder to defrost as they only add another barrier of ice and snow that has to melt. To help reduce the chances of ice dams forming, use a roof rake after a snowfall to prevent ice dams from forming. A roof rake is an extended rake that allows you to knock down any built-up snow on your roof and keep ice from building up near your gutters. They can also be used to clear off any branches, leaves, and debris that have gathered on your roof that would otherwise fall into your gutters.
Ways to Prevent Ice from Forming
As we mentioned before, frozen gutters are preventable—and preventing them from freezing over is the best way to maintain your home over the winter. These solutions might require a bit of an investment of time and/or money, however, they will pay off in the long-run as they are sure to add significant value to your home.
Have a Heating Panel Installed: A popular way to treat gutters that frequently freeze over is having a heating panel installed. A heating panel can safely and effectively melt the ice without damage to your home or gutters. This usually requires a professional to install and will most likely be the costliest of solutions. If you have the budget for this type of device to be installed, it will be one of the easiest ways to defrost frozen gutters.
Keep Gutters Clean: For a more preventable approach, you are going to want to keep your gutters as clean as possible to prevent any build-up that can cause water retention. While this may not be as effective in areas that see frozen gutters from an abundance of snow, it can be very effective for those who deal with cluttered gutters. Cleaning your gutters yearly by hand or spraying them out with a water hose can drastically improve the function and life of your gutters, no matter what they are made of. This will also help to prevent overflow from backups of just rain, not just ice.
Have High-Quality Gutter Guards Installed: Homeowners that have high-quality, stainless steel mesh gutter guard systems in place can expect to slash their maintenance efforts enormously—while enjoying a clog-free gutter system on a year-round basis. Stainless steel mesh gutter guards block fine debris from entering the system which helps to prevent ice from forming over the winter season.
High Quality, Stainless Steel Gutter Guard Installation
With over 20 years in the home remodeling business, Smart Exteriors has been dedicated to bringing the very best products to our customers in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. When it comes to winter home upgrades, we highly recommend having high-quality, stainless steel mesh gutter guards installed on your home’s gutter system—and would be happy to help you improve your home in time for the winter season this year.
For more information on gutter guard installation, window replacement, roof replacement, and our other services for homes in the area, contact our team right away. Give us a call or fill out our easy online form to sign up for a free, no-obligation estimate with one of our expert contractors now.