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How to Protect your Gutters and Roof in Winter

Originally published on

Can you spot the signs of roof damage on your home or commercial building? One sure way to know that you have at least some damage is to look for icicles in cold weather. While they may look pretty and festive around the holidays, icicles can severally damage your gutters and your roof. The added weight of snow and ice in the cold winter months can begin to erode and impact a reasonably sound roof and critically damage one that is older or already impaired. 


Water Damage Due to Winter Weather 

When snow and ice fill your gutters and cover your roof, the heat from your home’s interior can draw water into your home. As it melts, the water takes the path of least resistance, which typically is through your skylights or ceiling.

Water expands as it freezes, which can stretch a full gutter out of shape. As the home’s interior heat melts the ice and snow, increases the water flows, continuing the cycle until eventually, the sheer weight of the ice rips the gutter away from your roof.


How to Protect your Gutters and Roof in Winter: 

Cleaning accumulating snow off of your roof can help reduce the risk of damage. “Your gutters should be clear before the cold weather arrives; if they are full of fall leaves and other debris, even a single snowfall or icy rainstorm can damage your roof and gutter systems,” stated Mr. Brewster. Prevent damage by:

  • Clean your gutters regularly.  If you see plant debris or notice water falling off of your roof instead of traveling through the gutter system, there is a blockage somewhere that you should investigate.
  • Check for overlarge icicles and ice blocks and knock them down if possible. Don’t allow masses of ice or icicles to accumulate.
  • The same salt you use to keep your driveway and sidewalks clean and safe can also break up large chunks of ice in your gutters. If you can safely do so, add salt and remove them as needed so accumulated ice can’t melt into your home. Avoid salting your entire roof, since rock salt can damage some types of shingles.

If damage has already occurred, contact a roofing professional to repair any problems right away. Minor roofing problems can rapidly expand into substantial home repairs, so immediate attention is a must.  If your roof or gutters are not safely accessible, do not attempt to remove ice or snow on your own; your roofing professional has the right tools for the job and can provide expert repairs without risking your safety.


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