After The Blizzard: Look Up From Shoveling And Check Out Your Gutters

After a major snow, you may see icicles hanging from your roof gutters. While icicles may look beautiful as they glisten in the sunlight, they are an indication that your gutters are not performing their task of moving excess water from your roof and away from your home.

If icicles are hanging from the outer edge of your gutters, this means that the gutters are full of snow. As the snow on the roof melts, it cannot travel its normal route to the downspout and away from the home.

Why are clogged gutters a problem?

As the sun sets and temperatures drop, melted snow refreezes, creating an additional burden on your gutters. If the weight becomes too great, your gutters will begin to pull away from the fascia board that connect them to the exterior wall. They may even collapse completely and fall to the ground.

As a gutter pulla away from the wall, water gains access to the area between the wall and the gutter. This water can then refreeze and expand, pushing the gutter even further away and allowing more water to accumulate.

Water can also compromise the integrity of the fascia board, weakening its hold on the gutter even further.

When gutters push away from the exterior wall, their pitch, or slope, may also be affected. Gutters must be pitched slightly downward in the direction of the downspout, so water will flow freely downhill to the spout. If the pitch is reversed, water will accumulate at the other end of the gutter and impede drainage.

Any of these issues can lead to serious gutter and roof repair work, but you can take action to help to minimize damages.

What should you do to prevent gutter issues after a major snow event?

When you see icicles forming on your gutters, it's time to clear them of snow and other materials that have accumulated and caused a blockage. You must first clear the area beneath the gutters of snow and ice before you attempt to climb a ladder to clear them. Wear sunglasses if it is a sunny day, to protect your eyes of the sunlight from the snow

A gutter cleaning tool, which resembles a small narrow hand spade, would be helpful, but you can scoop snow with a gloved hand if necessary. Any ice that has formed in the bottom of the gutter will melt more easily when the upper layer of snow is removed and the sun's rays can reach the ice.

If the gutter moves slightly as you remove the snow, you must secure it to the wall after checking the pitch. You can check the pitch of the gutter with a stick level, or even a smartphone app level. If the pitch is incorrect, you must raise the end of the gutter opposite the downspout slightly before securing the gutter.

You will need a special screw chuck to tighten the gutter screws that hold the gutter in place. If your gutter is secured with spikes(nails) instead of screws, you should replace the spikes with screws for a more secure hold. Gutter cleaning tools, gutter screws and the special screw chucks can all be found in the roofing area of your local home improvement store.

If you have any hesitation about climbing a ladder, hire a roofing contractor or gutter specialist before damage occurs, rather than enduring roof leaks and additional expense by waiting until damage has already been done. For help with roofing repair, contact a professional in your area. 

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