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What Can You Do To Prevent Your Rain Gutter Downspout From Freezing This Winter?

by Wade Black

Rain gutter downspouts that freeze can often result in damage to your house over the course of a winter. Knowing how rain gutter downspouts do damage and how to prevent that from happening can help you take care of your home this winter. 

What can you do to prevent your rain gutter downspout from freezing this winter?

The best thing you can do is to clean out the gutters, then unclog the downspout. Set up a ladder so you can see into the gutters, then use a hand trowel to scoop out the debris and leaves into a bucket. Once all the larger chunks of debris have been removed, use a hose to spray the remaining debris down into the gutter and into the spout.

Next, clean out the downspout. Use a hose to spray a strong jet of water into the spout and flush out the loose material caught inside. If the water backs up inside the spout, use a plumber's auger to clear it. Once this is done, flush the spout with water again.

If your downspout has frozen in previous winters and you don't believe that cleaning out the downspout is enough, contact a gutter repair company about installing heated cables inside the downspout to melt any ice that develops over the winter. 

Why is it a problem if your rain gutter downspout freezes?

Downspouts are a critical part of your home's drainage system. When downspouts malfunction, water becomes trapped in your gutters. If water inside your rain gutter downspout freezes, the water in your gutters will have no escape over the course of the winter. As water freezes on the edge of your roof, a buildup of frozen water in your gutters can compound the problem and make ice dams worse. Ice dams can do significant water damage to your roof and to the walls of your home.

What should you do if your downspout does freeze?

Sometimes, despite preventative measures like cleaning the downspout and the gutters, your downspout can still fill with freezing water. Chiseling away at the spout is likely to only do damage. If an ice dam develops on your roof, contact a gutter repair company (such as A - 1 Seamless Gutters Inc) for a quote to thaw the ice. While you wait for their help, lay pantyhose filled with rock salt on the ice inside the gutter. This will help melt the ice on the gutter and stop the ice dam from backing up on the roof.

If there is no gutter repair company in your area, you can still try to get ice out of your gutters. To do this, run hot water from a spigot in your house up to the gutters via your garden hose. Use the garden hose to melt the ice just enough that it can be scraped out of your gutters and off your roof.

Hopefully, your gutters will remain ice dam free this winter. However, if they don't, consider getting heated cables installed in your downspout next spring so you can avoid this problem in the future.