How to protect the gutter system in winter from snow and ice


In the off-season and in winter, when several days of thaw are abruptly replaced by severe frosts, damage to pipes caused by snow masses or ice buildups is often found. Metal and plastic products break, destroying the facade, roof, and blind area of the house at the same time. But even more dangerous for people’s lives and health is the situation when, due to a malfunction of the drainage system, massive icicles form on the roof. Therefore, homeowners have to take care of gutter safety.

What damage to the drain is relevant in winter, and why

All problems that appear in the cold season are associated with frozen moisture. They occur when the temperature changes dramatically: during the day, the sun shines, melting the snow masses on the roof, and at night, it freezes. As a result, the water accumulated in the system turns into ice.

Due to periodic freezing and thawing, the roof layer, as well as drainage devices, are covered with ice. The mass of ice, along with the snow layers, gradually grows, and when it reaches a critical mass, the system “breaks.” Follow the link you can read more about gutters

What happens when the gutter fails:

  • The gutter is deformed – sagging, crumpled areas appear. Often, this is facilitated by an ill-conceived desire to save on fixing brackets.
  • The pipe breaks – the pressure of a vast mass formed inside the ice jam affects.
  • Breaks in corners, funnels, and holders are a common occurrence, with a sharp descent of snow masses from the roof or the pressure of large ice growths.

Proper installation of gutters and drainage system

For the organization of unhindered snowmelt in winter, it is necessary to carry out installation work correctly.

The main principles for the correct installation of any gutters and gutters:

  • Check how far from the edge of the roof the gutter will pass so that it does not interfere with the snow. The outer edge of the top of the channel should be 10 mm below the slope extension line.
  • Start installation from the bracket furthest away from the funnel. Install it at the maximum height relative to the other frames – this way, you will ensure the optimal angle for moisture to drain.
  • The length of the gutter is 2-3 meters. Unique elements are used for connection. To avoid tearing, do not let the connection points come into contact with the attachment points of the holders and the joint with the funnel.
  • 3.5 mm of inclination per 1 m of length is the optimal position. With a roof with a width of 10-15 meters, the slope will be 35-52.5 mm. This means that the funnel for collecting water will be located 3-4.5 centimeters below the bracket mounted first.
  • In order to avoid making a mistake with the slope, immediately fix the uppermost holder and the lower one, located at the funnel. For convenience, use a rope: pull it between the two brackets and correctly install the rest.
  • The standard step between the fasteners is 60 cm. If you save money and make the distance longer, the risk of damage to the system when ice appears increases significantly.
  • It is better to install the drainage network before covering the roof. Metal brackets are mounted to the rafters or crate. If the top is already done, plastic materials that are attached to the frontal board will do. The gutters are not allowed to be skewed in the horizontal or vertical direction.

Solutions for the protection of gutters and drains

To protect structures from damage by ice or snow after installation, use additional protective equipment. For example:

  1. Lay heating cables. Self-regulating models, which automatically change the heating temperature depending on the surrounding conditions, are popular today.
  2. Install snow guards. They will protect water collection structures, the facade, as well as people under the roof eaves from snow drifts.

Also, to protect gutters and drains, clean them regularly; experts advise at least two times a year – in spring and autumn. On this gutter cleaning website you can learn more about the principles of cleaning gutters and drains.

Tip: Check if the roof is installed correctly. Sometimes, the cause of icing of gutters is condensate, which is formed due to errors in the installation of the roofing cake. For example, there is a lack of vapor barrier or ventilation gap between the layers of insulation and waterproofing.

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