What to Do About Frozen Gutters

How have your gutters been handling this winter?  Typically, as long as you keep this key element of your home’s exterior clear of debris, it serves to redirect moisture.  In the face of snow, ice, and cold, though, you may have another problem to deal with:  frozen gutters.  When ice starts to build up on this essential element, more complications will follow.

It’s Not Always Obvious

You might think of frozen gutters as being extremely noticeable.  If there was a clog, you’d see those giant icicles dripping over the
sides—right?  Not always. In extreme cases, you might have that, inviting you to investigate.  But many times, ice dams build up
inside of the gutters themselves.

If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s basically a wall of ice along your roofline.  Formed by snow and ice—or better yet melting snow and ice—that refreezes and blocks the natural drainage of water.  They’re especially dangerous because pools of water can grow behind these dams.  Rather than escape through your gutter system and downspouts, it can leak into your home causing water damage.  Unless you address your frozen gutters right away!

That’s What Gutter Covers Are For!

Again, not necessarily.  High quality gutter covers are effective at preventing clogs caused by trees branches, leaves, and other debris.  Ice is another story.  In some cases, poorly installed or inferior covers have been known to cause ice dams.  They can collapse under the weight of ice and snow, forming one giant obstacle.  Or freeze quickly at the smaller openings to similarly restrict the flow of water.

Now, we’re not suggesting that gutter covers should be avoided or removed during winter.  Just do your research before you have them installed!  Work with a reputable company that you trust to make knowledgeable recommendations. It helps to work with a local team that understands the challenges of your particular environment.  At Schaefer Siding & Exteriors, we don’t just work throughout the Mid-Atlantics region.  We live here too!  So, we know how to protect homes throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, and Eastern West Virginia.

Be Proactive Instead

Really, the only way to address frozen gutters is to stay on top of things.  If you think you might have ice dams or other clogs, take a closer look!  You can also pick up the proper equipment proactively, so when the problem strikes—you’re ready to go.  Some common methods of fighting freezing along your roofline includes ice melt and roof rakes.

Pick a chemical formula that’s specifically made for roofs.  It should help to create holes in existing dams and prevent them from forming such a thick layer.  Then, you can go in with your roof rake to remove snow that could melt and refreeze later on.  Be gentle with this tool and avoid scraping the surface clean.  Ideally, you want to remove most of heavy snowfall, down to an inch or two.  When you get too close to your shingles or other roofing materials, you should stop to avoid the risk of damaging them with the rake.


Frozen gutters aren’t exactly our idea of fun, but they don’t have to cause problems either. Just follow our advice and be sure to ask our team about extra precautions you can take next time we repair or replace your roof and gutters.  We’ve only got a few weeks left of winter (hopefully), so stay safe and warm!

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