The winters in St Louis, MO, can be a little rough on your property. Rain, snow, ice, and snap freezes followed by the inevitable thaw in spring can cause a whole host of problems. As a result, frozen gutters and downspouts may seem quite normal and harmless. While it’s true that they are not the most concerning issue winter can bring, they can actually do damage to your home, foundation, and yard over time. This is why it is best to do what you can to prevent them from icing up.
Frozen Gutters and Downspouts—What You Need to Know
How much damage can a frozen gutter or downspout really do? The answer is quite a lot! First and foremost, if the ice in your gutters becomes too heavy, it can cause them to sag or even break away from your home, causing a lot of damage to your roof.
Secondly, when they freeze, solid water backs up onto your roof and can seep through eventually.
Thirdly, when spring comes, these blocked gutters and downspouts will fail to do their job; the runoff water from melting snow and ice will overspill and pool by your property’s perimeter. Over time, this can cause soil erosion, increased hydrostatic pressure, and actually damage your foundation and basement walls.
Prevent Gutters and Downspouts from Icing Up
There is no way to fully prevent gutters and downspouts from icing up unless you invest in a heating panel system and run heating elements along the length of your gutters. This is a costly but effective solution that will totally remove the possibility of your gutters freezing. Most homeowners can’t justify spending the money on this system, however, which is perfectly understandable in this climate.
The other option is to complete thorough gutter maintenance before winter sets in. By taking the time to wash away buildup and remove debris from your gutters before winter hits will remove the standing water and debris that usually cause gutters to freeze solid and become impassable for water. While doing this you should also position your downspouts along soil with a positive grade to make sure that they angle the water from the spring thaw away from your home. If you do this, you could still see your gutters ice up, but it will be less dramatic and dangerous for your home. Another option is to invest in underground downspouts installed by basement waterproofing professionals.
What to Do When Your Gutters Freeze
The truth is that once your gutters and downspouts have frozen, there is very little that you can do. It’s important that you do not hack at the ice with anything sharp, however, as you can damage your gutters or your roof doing so. Instead, only remove icicles that get really big. This will keep the weight on your gutters down and minimize the chances of them sagging or breaking away.
If you really wish to, you can invest in thawing your gutters with hot water or steam, but this won’t prevent them from refreezing. At this point, you should focus on removing debris as it becomes free from the ice. This will help ensure that when the drain refreezes, it is still passable for water. If you do see signs of sagging or cracking, however, or if you find water or ice inside your roof, you should call a professional immediately.
In these cases, a professional will assess whether it would be better to wait the winter out or, in the case of roof damage especially, whether there is imminent danger to the structural integrity of your home. Whatever you do, however, do not use deicing formulas or salt on your roof and gutters; this could cause corrosion and the water runoff will damage your yard.
If you are concerned about any damage caused by your gutters, downspouts or roof, please do not hesitate to contact the expert team at Foundation Recovery Systems. Our inspection appointments are free and without obligation, too, so there’s no reason not to make sure your gutters, downspouts, and foundation are ready to face the winter.