As a homeowner in a colder climate, you have to deal with snow and ice throughout the winter months. And it’s not just the driveway shoveling and scraping off the car — your roofline and gutter system are also a concern when it comes to snow and ice.
The heavy snows of winter can wreak havoc on your roof and gutters if you’re not prepared. Prevention is key, and utilizing gutter guards for snow and ice may be the answer. But what are the best gutter guards for cold climates? We’ll go over this and more in this guide to gutter protection during the wintertime.
The Function of Gutters and Gutter Guards
Many homeowners invest in gutters for their homes. When functioning properly, gutters direct rainwater away from the home, preventing possible water damage. On their own, gutters require some regular cleaning and maintenance. Leaves and other debris can get in the way, creating clogs and leading to the water damage that the gutters were supposed to prevent in the first place.
Gutter guards are meant to protect the gutter system from clogs and damage. The guards fit inside or on top of the gutters, depending on the style you choose, and help to reduce the necessary cleaning and maintenance of the gutters. They are available in a range of styles and price points to give you gutter protection in snow, ice and other weather conditions.
What Problems Do Snow and Ice Cause for Gutters?
When you live in a colder climate, snow and ice are common weather conditions to be aware of, causing a host of issues for homeowners, including their gutter systems. Just as the gutters need to deal with rainwater in warmer weather, they must also deal with snow, ice and all the freezing and melting that occurs during the winter.
In a heavy snowstorm, or even just with several smaller subsequent snowfalls, snow can land on the roofs of homes. The sheer weight of the snow may build up quickly, putting a lot of pressure on the roof and gutter system. The roof’s pitch can also contribute to the weight and shift the pressure to the edges of the roof and gutters, as the snow and ice slide down the pitch of the roof.
What Is Ice Damming?
The main concern for roofs and gutters in cold climates is ice damming. Ice dams occur mainly during temperature fluctuations of winter that cause melting and refreezing of snow and ice on rooflines. The process of an ice dam forming usually follows these steps:
- Snow falls during the winter and accumulates on top of the roof.
- Melting starts either due to slightly warmer temperatures or warmth radiating up from the attic or upper level of the home.
- The snow melts slowly, and the water runs towards the gutters.
- The edges of the roof, near the overhang and gutter system, become colder than the other part of the roof where the melting occurred.
- The melted water that drips down toward the edges refreezes and forms ice dams and icicles that hang over the edge of the roof.
- A dam of ice is created over the gutters or edges of the roofline. This means that additional water that melts and flows downward can become trapped. The trapped water can seep into the attic and cause other types of water damage.
In addition to the water damage from trapped water, ice dams themselves are damaging to roof and gutter structures and other home systems if the water seeps inside. The added weight of the ice puts pressure on these structures, and as the water melts and refreezes into ice, it expands. This means that the water that seeps into the roof and inside of the gutters expands as it freezes, pushing structures apart and causing lots of damage. It’s clear that gutter protection in cold climates is essential.
Why Use Gutter Guards for Snow and Ice
When it comes to protection from ice dams and other snow and ice damage, prevention is key. Once the damage is done, the repairs can be more complicated or expensive. Regularly clearing snow from your roof can help, but you should exercise caution doing this chore yourself. You can also add better insulation and ventilation to your attic to improve temperature and airflow, which can help prevent ice dams from forming.
If you want the best gutter protection in snow and ice, gutter guards are the way to go. Here’s why gutter guards are so beneficial for winter weather:
- Durable: While not all gutter guards are created equal, some types, like micromesh, are extremely durable, meaning they are meant to stand up to the tough weather conditions that winter brings. Durable materials also prevent rust and corrosion, which can extend the life span of your gutters.
- Long-lasting: Quality gutter guards made from materials like aluminum are built to last, unlike cheap alternatives made from foam or plastic. These guards will last year after year, even with harsh winter weather.
- Prevention of freezing debris: Without gutter guards in place, debris can easily build up in your gutters. If this debris is not properly cleaned out before winter weather hits, it can cause a greater risk of not just clogs, but frozen debris that impedes water flow and increases the chances of ice dams building up.
To prevent ice dams, micro-mesh gutter guards are the most effective option. The best gutter guards keep out debris and allow water to cycle through. This reduces the chances that snow will freeze on your roof because your gutters will be clog-free. When there is less water to freeze, ice dams cannot get any larger, and you can prevent ice from adding more weight to the gutters. When snow builds up, it’s much easier to remove it from micro-mesh gutter guards, and you can do so without putting any debris inside your gutters.
If you do have ice dams or other snow and ice buildup on your home, it’s important to act quickly. You can attack it from the underside if you have attic access by aiming a fan at the ice dam in the attic.
You should also try to melt the dam and give the water a channel to flow through. Do this by filling old pantyhose with an ice melt product and laying it on top of the ice dam. Scrape away excess snow with a roof rake, but never attempt to chisel or chip at an ice dam yourself, especially atop a ladder. This is incredibly dangerous and can damage your roof and gutters as well.
The Best Gutter Guards for Cold Climates
If you want the very best gutter guards for snow and ice installed at your home, All American Gutter Protection has what you need. Our top-quality aluminum and stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards are designed to stand up to the elements and last year after year. If you’re interested in the best gutter protection, contact us today for a free gutter guard estimate. Our technicians are standing by to get your home protected with high-quality gutter guards.