As much as it might be a huge pain in winter, you need to take care of your gutters to prevent huge problems ruining a cozy evening. Your gutters are important—they help carry water away from your house and protect your home from decay and mold damage. If left unchecked, leaky gutters can cause cracks in your foundation, peeling paint, and a buildup of mold on and in your siding.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, snow, ice, and cold weather can wreak havoc on your home, resulting in expensive repair bills. Every winter, there are billions of dollars in insured losses due to burst pipes, frozen gutters, and other weather-related disasters. Follow this short guide to help make sure your gutters aren’t a disaster waiting to happen!
Are your gutters a mess? Don’t want to brave below-freezing temperatures to clean them? Contact the gutter experts at Shanco to come and do your dirty work!
Steps to Clean Your Gutters in Winter
- Don’t let ice dams build up. Ice dams form as a result of poor insulation and ventilation in your attic. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and blocks gutters. If these get large enough, they can cause significant damage to the exterior of your home and roof. Call a licensed contractor to remove these ice dams before they become a huge problem.
- Remove debris from gutters. Debris like acorns, leaves, and twigs get pushed into your gutters by melting snow, which it’s why it’s important to scoop it all out. You can accomplish this with a sturdy ladder and a spotter—never get up on a ladder in winter on your own—along with a pair of sturdy gloves and a trowel. Gutter scoops and pressure washers can also be used, but stay away from pressure washers if the temperature is below freezing. As you are scooping debris out of your gutters, make sure none of it gets dropped down the downspout. Clogs inside your downspout are a lot harder to remove than debris up above. You can fill up trash bags or buckets, or just drop the debris on the ground away from your house. Don’t ever try to reach further away from your ladder than an arm’s reach—climb down and reposition it frequently to avoid falls.
- Clear out smaller bits of debris. Little clumps of mud and leftover small pieces might look harmless, but the tiniest speck can grow into a monster if ignored. Use a spray hose to clean out any stubborn pieces left hanging around. This is also good for seeing if your gutters have any leaks anywhere, specifically where they join the house or at corners.
- Check all downspouts and diverters. Your downspout should be at least ten feet away from the house and pointing downhill, to avoid large puddles of standing water.
- Plug leaks or call for gutter repair service. Using silicone or “putty” on small leaks can tide you over for the meantime, but if you notice your gutters have a lot of leaks, you should call a contractor like Shanco to replace or repair your gutters.
Your gutters may not get as much attention as your paint color, but they are an essential system for keeping your home healthy and comfortable. Even if you don’t have a lot of debris in your gutters, if you let a small amount of leaves and dirt sit and rot, it may attract pests and animals come the spring. Also, cleaning rotten vegetation when you’d rather be relaxing is definitely not the most fun activity.