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Will Snow Damage Gutters?

Updated Dec 1, 2022

Updated Dec 1, 2022

Home > Gutters > Will Snow Damage Gutters?

Who doesn’t love looking outside at a beautiful winter wonderland? Few things are cozier than curling up with hot cocoa and a thick blanket on a snowy day. Unfortunately, this peace can be interrupted by heavy snowfall that damages your home’s gutters. Keep reading to learn about how you can protect your gutters in winter. 

Will Snow Damage Gutters?

roof ice dam on a home
Image Source: Canva

One of the worst parts about winter weather is heavy snow building up on your roof and gutter system. Unfortunately, snow and ice will damage your gutter system, especially if you don’t have a high-quality gutter system installed or your roof is old or compromised. 

There are two main ways that snow damages gutters. 

Ice Dams

Ice dams form when snow builds up on the roof. As the snow melts, the runoff drains off the roof only to refreeze as it hits the side of your home and gutters. 

Now, you may be asking yourself how the snow melts in the first place only to refreeze again, forming ice dams. Unfortunately, many homes have heat that escapes from the attic and warms the roof, melting the snow from beneath. This weakness allows the snow to melt, then refreeze as it enters the gutter, creating heavy ice dams. 

As ice dams form, this creates clogged gutters, and snow melt cannot properly drain off the roof, forcing your roof to undergo a lot of overexposure to moisture. Overexposure to moisture allows water to seep underneath tar paper, shingles, and even the plywood under your roof, putting the soffit, fascia, and roof’s integrity at risk. 

Ice Buildup

Ice buildup prevents snow from melting and running through your gutter system. This occurrence leads runoff to flow over the lip of the gutter, forming large icicles. Not only are icicles dangerous to your gutter system due to the added weight, but they can fall and hurt your family and anything below it, such as your deck. 

How to Prevent Gutter Damage from Snow

icicles on gutters in freezing weather
Image Source: Canva

Ice Dam & Icicle Prevention

Fortunately, preventing ice dams is a simple process. An already clogged gutter will make it easier for your gutters to fill with snow and ice. Start by thoroughly cleaning out your gutters before winter hits, taking special precautions to remove fallen leaves, which will eventually clog up the gutter. You can also gently sweep out snow before it becomes icy to help remove the weight of snow on your gutters. Immediately clear out the downspouts so that melted snow can exit the gutter system.

If the snow buildup is massive, contact a professional roofing contractor to have the gutters cleaned out. Hiring a professional may be an extra expense, but it’s less money than replacing your entire gutter system. Some homeowners insurance policies cover gutter repairs if they’re damaged by snow, so double-check your policy before hiring a professional. 

Additional preventative measures for protecting your gutters: 

  • Install a gutter protection system. A gutter protection system is installed over existing or new gutters and reinforces the gutter system so that it can bear a heavier snow buildup load. 
  • Regularly clean your gutters or have them cleaned by a professional a minimum of twice a year, possibly more, depending on your area. This prevents gutters from being clogged with debris. 
  • Have your gutters replaced. If your gutters are not up to the standards for your area or are getting old, it may be time to replace them. Speak with a professional gutter technician about what kind of rain gutters work with your roofing system. If you’ve had issues with ice dams or collapsing gutters, mention this and ask about heavier-duty gutter options. 
  • Ventilate your attic and insulate your home efficiently. Doing this will ensure that the temperature difference between the indoor and outdoor air is less dramatic, leading to fewer ice dams forming in the first place. 
  • Use a gutter helmet or heat cables to protect your gutters from cold weather damage from snow and ice buildup. The helmet is installed on your roof and will adjust to its temperature, keeping ice melted and flowing through your gutter system. The cables can even reduce energy usage by preventing your roof from overheating. 

Closing Thoughts

Winter weather is beautiful, but it comes with a cost if the snow load and possible damage to your gutters are not addressed. Keep up with your gutter maintenance and repairs to ensure that your gutters are ready to handle your area’s snow load. We hope our tips help protect your gutters and roof from water damage and buckling. 

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