It’s November! It’s starting to be colder and winter is almost here. Have you made the necessary preparations for your home? The gutter system is brought to the ultimate test of nature when this time of the year comes along. Ice dams are definite possibility and if left unattended, it could lead to serious problems. Replacements for gutters, gutter guards and downspouts aren’t cheap. The damage spreads like wildfire – it also affects the soffit, fascia and your house interior.
Treating ice dams on gutters have been discussed in a previous article. What about frozen downspouts? Frozen downspouts aren’t a simple issue to ignore. When it freezes up, the pipe slowly expands and will gradually develop cracks. It breaks up, creating a way for water to seep through. This can ruin your walls or much worse – make its way to the soffit and fascia. How can we prevent this occurance?
The Manual Method – A number of homeowners will use one of these methods: Most of them suggest leaving the downspout as it is, and wait for a warm day to thaw them. Some would use the end of a broom to slightly poke at the ice. You can also use running tap water along the downspout to try and melt the water gradually. It’s best to use warm water to make the process faster. Hammering can work too, but keep in mind that the risk of damaging the downspout is high.
Heat Tape/Cable – Though a bit pricey, this can be one of the best solutions against frozen downspouts. Certain heat tapes/cables are long enough to be installed along the gutters and up to the downspouts. You can switch the tape on whenever it’s needed to help melt the ice; and, in most cases, the tape is durable. However, be careful about the installation. Improper installation could result in more problems, even clogging. Having that in mind, you only have to buy it once.
Alternative Methods – If you don’t have the budget for heat tapes/cables, you can also find good alternatives right inside your house. A hair dryer works well. Just use an extension cord and warm up the affected part of the downspout. Some of the spouts are placed underground. So if yours is then you need to unscrew it. Ice melt also works well. Sprinkle a bit inside and around the downspout then you can thaw it carefully. The ice melt will make it easier.
What quick fixes you have against frozen downspouts? Join the discussion at the Hallett Gutter Cover Facebook page!