According to the experts at Global Gutter Systems, rain gutter coverings are ideal for preventing large pieces of dirt and debris such as leaves from clogging the gutters. They are perfect for the fall when leaves are falling from trees, but are they good in the winter, when ice and snow can become a problem?
How Do Gutter Guards Work?
A gutter guard is designed to sit on top of the gutters to keep out large items. Rainwater is still able to flow freely through the gutters, but the guard prevents items like leaves and twigs from getting inside. There are different types of guards available. They can be made from a flexible mesh that is clipped over the gutters, a more rigid grid style that is cut to size and sits neatly inside the gutter, or a brush-style that fits inside the gutter. The brush-style guard has bristles on a flexible wire core that can be bent to fit the shape of the gutter. Debris sits on top of the brush rather than making its way into the gutter.
Should Gutter Guards be Removed in the Winter?
Some people believe that gutter guards cause problems in the winter, especially for those who live in areas prone to ice and snow. There is a misconception that gutter guards cause issues such as ice dams and icicles, but this is not the case.
An ice dam happens when heated air from a poorly insulated section of the roof melts the snow, which then flows off the roof before freezing again when it meets a colder section. This usually results in a large area of ice, which can then cause leaks in the roof. The cause of ice dams on a roof is uneven insulation, not gutter guards. Removing the gutters would not solve the issue of ice dams. The problem will continue until you sort out the insulation.
Icicles are also caused by poor insulation. When hot air leaving the home through the roof melts the snow, it can trickle down the roof. It then refreezes as it meets cold air when it drips from the gutters.
Cleaning Your Gutters Before Winter
One thing that can affect gutters in the winter is blockages, and this is where gutter guards can come in handy. Gutters without guards are more likely to get clogged because they get filled with debris such as leaves, twigs, and trash. Blockages in a gutter can cause water to back up,which in freezing temperatures turns to ice. This can then damage the gutter and cause it to come away from the fascia boards.
Regardless of whether you have gutter guards or not, it is a good idea to check the gutters before the cold weather hits. Make sure to give them a good clean so that they are free from all blockages.
Best Gutter Guards for Winter Weather
If you live in an area prone to heavy snow and ice, it is best to choose gutter guards that have small holes which will allow sitting snow to melt and flow away. A professional installer may be able to install gutter grid guards at a slope, which will encourage snow to fall away rather than sit on the gutters.
Metal gutter guards are a better choice for colder climates because plastic guards are prone to cracking during the freeze/thaw cycle.
To conclude, despite many people assuming that gutter guards are the cause of winter problems such as ice dams and icicles, the real cause of these issues is poor roof insulation. Removal of gutter guards is therefore not necessary, provided gutters are cleaned thoroughly before winter.