Winter Gutter Maintenance
Keeping gutters in good working condition during winter months can prevent costly repairs.
When well-maintained, gutters and downspouts do a great job of diverting water away from your house and protecting your home and foundation from the effects of pooling water. While important year round, the value of a functioning gutter system is never more important than it is during the winter months. As ice expands, the damage to fascia can be severe and a cracked foundation may require thousands of dollars of costly repairs.
Although regular cleanings may be all that it takes to keep things flowing nicely, when snow blanketing a rooftop begins to melt, leaves, twigs and other debris are more likely to gather in gutters, causing clogs and other unexpected problems.
Tending to gutters in cold weather can be an unpleasant chore, but may prevent the expensive repairs inclement weather can cause. Before Jack Frost comes knocking on your foundation, give your gutter system the winter checkup it may need this winter.
Clear gutters of debris. This may be the most unpleasant task, but also the most important. Unless an active clog is causing problems, this task is best left until after a thaw. Professional assistance may be preferred, but the chore can be accomplished without expense using a sturdy ladder, gloves and a garden trowel or gutter scoop (pressure washers may also be employed for this task). Pay close attention to corners and junctions where leaves are likeliest to gather. Gutter covers are a popular way to cut down on the inconvenience of clearing debris from gutters, but regular inspections are still recommended.
Inspect seams and anchors. Check for leaks and make sure the gutters are firmly attached to the house by gutter spikes. No gaps should be apparent between the fascia and the gutter.
Check for structural damage. Examine fascia, siding and foundation for signs of staining, rotting or other water-related damage. If damage is evident, determine the source of the water flow and make repairs as needed.
Check downspouts and diverters. Water should be redirected at least ten feet from the foundation on a downward slope. Confirm water flows away from the house and does not pool. If water is diverted to a rain barrel, consider detaching the downspout from the barrel until warmer weather returns or adding a hose to the barrel drain to direct pass-through water away from the house.
Gutter maintenance can be a messy task and not much fun on even the sunniest of days, but an ounce of prevention can mean the difference between draining water runoff or draining your wallet. Bundle up and be safe.