Winters in Denver, CO, can make frozen gutters and downspouts seem entirely inevitable. This is not the case, however; those heavy icicles hanging from your roof are avoidable, as are the issues of excessive soil saturation, leaking or standing water, basement flooding, and soil erosion that comes with the water runoff in spring. Furthermore, the steps you can take to prevent frozen gutters and downspouts are relatively easy to complete.
How to Deal with Frozen Gutters
The most important thing about dealing with frozen gutters and downspouts is to resist the urge to take a hammer, knife, or axe to the ice. While some very long icicles can be broken away safely (and should be to remove the weight from your gutters and roof), you should not try to hack at ice that is inside or directly attached to your gutters or roof. If you do this, you run the risk of damaging your gutters, downspouts, and roof.
In fact, some of the most common repairs to property roofs in spring are needed as a result of damage done by homeowners trying to pry ice away from their roof or guttering. Once your gutters have already frozen solid there is very little you can do unless you painstakingly thaw it with water or steam and remove the debris locked within the ice. This won’t prevent them from refreezing, but it may stop them from being completely blocked.
Likewise, you should not use salt or de-icing liquids on your roof, as these mixes often have corrosive elements in them that can damage your roof and gutters. Even if they don’t, however, the runoff that contains them will be very bad for your lawn and plants.
Preventing Frozen Gutters and Downspouts
If you want to prevent this situation from arising in the first place, you have two main options. First and foremost, you can prepare your gutters before the winter really sets in. Fall in Denver, CO, may be cold, but it’s not as cold as winter, and the bright, clear days make it perfect for yard work. Take the time to position and clean your downspouts, remove debris and buildup from your gutters and drainage systems, and flush the whole system. You also might want to think about investing in underground downspouts installed by a basement waterproofing professional.
This will not prevent water in the drains from freezing when the temperature plummets, but the lack of organic blockages and debris will prevent overspills. This will minimize icicle formation, but also ensure that when the spring thaw comes water will still be able to run through your gutters and downspouts.
The other option is to invest in a heating panel system. This will prevent your gutters from freezing at all by using heating elements which are placed along the length of the system. This is a fairly costly undertaking, but it does entirely eliminate the chance of freezing and icicle formation, thereby avoiding sources of potential damage to your roof.
When You Should Worry
Icicle formation may be common in Denver, CO, but there are some points at which you should call a professional to assess the situation. First and foremost, if you see dampness or ice inside your roof, you should call a professional immediately! This is a sign that your roof is damaged, and when the spring thaw comes, you will either end up with water pooling in your attic or, in the worst case, part of your roof collapsing.
Secondly, if you see parts of your gutter sagging or leaning away from your roof, you should call a professional to assess your gutters. This is a sign that the ice that has formed in it is pulling the gutter away from its moorings. You should have this surveyed to ensure it is not in danger of breaking away entirely.
If you are concerned about the health of your home, its waterproofing measures, and its foundation or any current damage, Complete Basement Systems is here for you. We offer free inspection appointments, complete with a written quote and no obligation to book repairs through us! Our team will assess your home and look for warning signs and existing issues before they make their recommendations to you. Better yet, we offer competitive pricing and flexible payment plans.