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Preparing Your Gutters for Winter: Essential Maintenance Tips

preparing gutters for the winter

When you start seeing the signs that winter weather is on the way, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cold months ahead, especially when it comes to your gutters. Properly maintaining your gutters before winter arrives can save you from costly repairs and water damage down the road. Here are some essential tips to get your gutters ready for whatever winter throws at you.

Clear Out Debris

frozen ice on gutter system
Even if it looks pretty, frozen ice on your gutter system can create a number of problems for your roof and gutters.

One of the most important steps in prepping your gutters for winter is to thoroughly clear them of any debris. Leaves, twigs, and other matter can easily accumulate in your gutters during fall. If left uncleared, wet leaves and debris will freeze over in your gutters once temperatures drop below freezing. This type of matter in a gutter freezes much faster than water by itself. This can lead to ice dams that prevent melting snow and ice from draining properly. The excess weight and pressure from backed-up ice and water can damage your gutters and even pull them away from your home.

Make sure you are safely clearing out all debris from your gutters. Use a ladder to access the gutters and remove leaves and debris by hand or with a small garden trowel. You’ll be surprised how much gunk can build up! Flushing out your gutters with a hose on a high-pressure setting can also help ensure you remove all the debris. Just make sure to check your downspouts as well to ensure they are clear. The last thing you want is clogged downspouts sending water back up into blocked gutters once it starts to rain or snow.

Check for Leaks and Damage

Inspect your gutters carefully for any leaks, holes, or other damage that may have occurred over the year. Heavy rainfall and moisture can wear down your gutters over time. Catching any compromised areas now will prevent costly leakage and rotting fascia boards once winter arrives.

Look for areas where the gutters may be pulling away from the roofline or facia board. Reattach any loose sections with gutter screws. Inspect seams between gutter sections for separation or cracking. Use a gutter sealant to reseal any compromised joints. Check for holes or rust spots and patch these weak areas with gutter repair patches.

It’s also smart to check places where downspouts connect to underground drains. Make sure the elbows and extensions at these junctions are properly attached and direct water away from your home’s foundation. Addressing these trouble spots now will help keep ice at bay when the freeze sets in.

Reinforce Supports

Heavy, wet snow can put a strain on your gutters, sometimes leading to detached gutters pulling away from the roof. Reinforcing your gutter supports helps them bear the brunt of heavy winter precipitation.

Examine the spike and ferrule hangers that attach your gutters to the fascia board. Add extra hangers if needed to provide better support. Use long screws to firmly reattach hangers to the underlying frame. Brackets and straps can also be added for additional reinforcement.

You can also consider installing gutter guards or covers. These metal or plastic shields sit inside your gutters to prevent snow and ice buildup while still allowing water to filter through. Just make sure any products you install don’t impede drainage.

Apply Protective Sealant

Applying a protective liquid sealant is a great way to help your gutters fend off winter weather. Solutions like liquid roof coating for gutters can waterproof and reinforce your gutters against leaks, rust, and ice dams. Carefully read the product instructions to ensure proper application. Be sure to allow adequate drying time before winter storms roll in.

Choose a day with dry weather to apply the sealant. Remove any debris in the gutters. Apply the liquid coating with a paintbrush or spray. Start by coating the interior of outlets and downspouts to prevent clogging from ice and snow. Then work your way along the gutters, applying an even layer inside and along the outer rim. The sealant will harden into a protective barrier.

Install Downspout Extensions

Installing downspout extensions helps direct melting snow and ice away from your home’s foundation. Attach extenders to downspouts to carry the water several feet away from the base of your house. Flexible extenders are easy to install and can attach to existing downspouts with simple clamps.

Make sure the extender runs water far enough away to prevent flooding and foundation damage. Aim for about four to six feet. If possible, try to divert water towards lawns or gardens rather than paved areas. This prevents hazardous icy patches on walkways.

Prune Overhanging Tree Limbs

While you’re inspecting your gutters, look up and survey the trees around your home. If any branches or limbs are overhanging near your roof, now is the time to prune them back. Drooping limbs dump leaves, pine needles, and other debris right into your gutters. Removing them helps cut down on some of the accumulation.

Prune back any branches that are within arm’s reach of your gutters. Safely prune using a pole saw or hire a professional arborist for high branches. Avoid over-pruning that could compromise the tree. Just prune back far enough so the canopy doesn’t directly overhang the roof.

Winterize Downspouts

Downspouts take a beating from freezing and thawing cycles in winter. Cracks and tears can form, leading to costly repairs. Applying some additional weather protection helps minimize wear and tear.

Use removable downspout insulation kits to wrap exterior downspouts. These are easy to install and remove each season. Make sure the insulation doesn’t impede drainage.

Lubricating downspout joints also helps prevent winter damage. Apply downspout joint lubricant or silicone spray at all the interior connections. This allows the downspouts to flex rather than crack under pressure from freezing and thawing moisture.

Test Gutters After Clearing

test gutters after cleaning
Don’t let snow and ice cause expensive damage to your gutters this winter.

After you’ve cleared debris from your gutters and downspouts, turn on your hose and let water run through the gutters. Check to make sure water is draining properly through the downspouts. Confirm that it’s directed away from your home’s foundation.

Observe the gutters during water flow. Look for any remaining leaks or weak points that need to be patched. Catching these trouble spots now prevents major headaches once the snow starts to melt.

Being proactive about gutter maintenance helps avoid serious winter weather damage. Follow these tips and your gutters will be ready for whatever winter weather comes your way. Just make sure to schedule a quick check after any heavy storms, in the event any new issues arise. With a little seasonal care, your gutters can keep performing smoothly all the way through spring.

The gutter and roofing experts at Lednor Home Solutions are ready to help you improve or replace your gutters before the winter weather sets in. To find out more about their services, contact Lednor Home Solutions to Schedule a free estimate.

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