Snow and ice can take a toll on your home exterior, strain your roof, and damage your gutters—putting your home at risk of water intrusion. Your gutter system needs to function properly during every season—including winter. When heavy snow falls, its weight can tip the scale and cause damage to your gutters, roofing, and eaves.
Each winter, make sure gutters and downspouts are free from debris so they can do their job properly and channel water away from your home.
Here are some common gutter problems people face in the winter:
Wintery Gutter Woes
Keep an eye out for the troubles winter can cause to your home gutter system. Contact a gutter professional if you suspect any of these issues.
1. Ice dams
If you don’t keep your gutters free of debris each fall and winter, you risk the possibility of a common problem: ice dams. When gutters get clogged, water no longer flows steadily through them, causing it to sit—or pool—rather than drain away from your home.
And when water stands still in your gutters long enough during the winter, large chunks of ice freeze inside them. Ice dams may even become layered due to multiple winter storms hitting the Chicago area consecutively. When weighty ice sits in your gutters, it blocks the free flow of water. This causes water to freeze under your roof shingles, resulting in roof damage and leaks.
This problem gets compounded by the normal process of warming your home in winter. When heat from your attic causes snow on your roof to melt, it should run off safely into clear, working gutters. However, because the air under frozen gutters and eaves is colder than the warmed attic air, the water may refreeze and form a dam. Over time, the weight of the whole wintery mix may cause your gutters to come off your home, and create damage to your roof or eaves.
2. Downspout problems
Gutters are easy to access and clean throughout the year, but downspouts are enclosed, and therefore tough to get to. When leaves or other debris clog your gutters, your downspout may become congested as well.
Rain as well as melting snow and ice should be flowing out your downspout and away from your home, but when the temperature drops, this precipitation may freeze instead—blocking your gutter system from working properly. As a result, your downspout may become damaged or even detached from your home.
When water freezes, it expands, and if it freezes inside the downspout, your downspout may crack. Also, snow may block the exit point of your downspout, creating a dam right where the water should be moving away from your home. Fall gutter and downspout cleaning can help prevent clogged downspouts.
When icicles form on your gutters and hang down toward the ground, they can become hazardous. Once they break off and fall to the ground, if you happen to be under them, you’re in for some trouble. Icicles form due to obstructions in your gutters that cause the water to overflow and then freeze. They may look pretty, but they are not a welcomed sight because they may indicate problems with your gutter system.
4. Heavy snow load
When Chicago gets hit with lots of snow, gutters need to be cleared. If you’ll brush the snow out of your gutter system, you’ll help relieve it of the stress of weighty snowfall, and protect your home from costly moisture damage.
5. Eave damage
If sagging gutters are not either replaced or repaired (with an added clip to lift them to their desired position), difficulties may follow. When gutters start to sag during the winter, snow can collect in their lowest point. The weight of the snow may cause your roof eaves to suffer damage.
When gutters aren’t installed properly (under roof eaves), water may get behind them and saturate the eaves, eventually causing wood rot and cascading into more damage.
Protect Your Chicago Home from Water Damage with New Gutters
At LeafCo, in addition to specialty gutters (like copper, steel, and half-round), our experienced team installs Mastic Seamless Aluminum Gutters that won’t rust or leak. We pay careful attention to details and apply quality control standards so you get the high-performance gutters you deserve. Take a look at how our durable gutter options not only protect your home from moisture damage, but also withstand harsh Chicago winters with ease.