Winter is a season that is particularly hard on the roof, especially if you live in a colder climate. Snow and ice cause sneaky water damage as they melt and soak under the shingles or between seams on metal roofing. While gutter guards prevent damage during summer rainstorms, they can also help over the winter when installed with care. Discover how K-Guard can help prevent winter roof and gutter damage to reduce what you spend on home maintenance year after year.
Potential for Winter Roof Damage
There are a number of ways that your roof is at risk of damage in the winter. In areas where snow is a concern, it tends to build up along the edges of the roof where the gutters are attached to the fascia boards. This puts extra weight on the gutters, potentially knocking them loose and dropping them to the ground. Even if the snow and gutters stay in place, ice damming may occur. Ice traps snow along the gutter line, causing it to melt and become trapped under the shingles rather than dripping off the edges. Finally, falling branches and loads of ice from overhanging trees can damage the roof as well. Gutter guards can even protect against this kind of damage, at least on the gutters if not on the rest of the roof.
The Strength of Gutter Guards
Installing the right gutter guards creates a stronger assembly. Integrated guards that are formed directly onto the gutters provide the greatest increase in strength over your standard vinyl gutter material. Strong gutters are less likely to bend or break off under the weight load of ice and snow accumulation. Even damage from falling branches is mitigated with the use of a heavy-duty gutter guard. Many gutters with integrated guards are also wider and feature a better overhang, increasing the strength further. This is true of K-Guard’s Leaf Guard products.
Prevent Clogs and Drainage Issues
Gutters can become clogged in the winter even when you think all of the leaves have fallen for the year. When snow and ice begin to melt over the roof, it needs to flow smoothly into the gutters so it doesn’t soak under the shingles or through roofing seams instead. Keeping the gutters clear all year round ensures that any melted snow drains away without delay. Don’t forget to clean out and check the downspouts as well before winter begins since they’ll need to handle a large volume of water during any snowmelt events. Even if you only get an inch or two of snow at a time, that can add up to hundreds of gallons of water flowing in just a few hours.
Gutter Guards and Ice Dams
Installing gutter guards will not automatically prevent ice damming all on its own. However, it is a good move to generally reduce the risk of this problem causing winter roof leaks. Many guards work well with heating cables and tapes used to melt ice along the edge so dams can’t form. Curved and sloped gutter guards like the Leaf Guard also encourage snow to slide off rather than build up along the roof edge. Make sure to also focus on other necessary improvements like attic installation to reduce melting from heat escaping through the roof. Changing a couple of things about your attic and roof can make ice damming a problem of the past.
Heat Cable Options
K-Guard products work well with heating cables designed to protect the roof’s edge from water damage over the winter. However, you’ll need to keep your guards cleaned and free from debris for this combination to work properly. If the gutter guard itself is clogged, the water will only soak into the fascia board and roof edges instead. Clean the gutters and guards thoroughly before winter to make sure the heat cables can smoothly direct water right into the gutters all winter long. Metal gutter guards work best with heating tapes and cables because they radiate the heat in a larger area to keep icicles and ice sheets from forming.
Prepare Your Gutter Guards for the Winter
Cleaning and inspecting the gutter guards in the late fall will best prepare them for winter. Even solid gutter guards like the ones we offer here at K-Guard need the occasional cleaning to remove leaves, twigs, and other large debris that can block the opening between the guard and the gutter. Waiting until the end of fall will limit how much more debris can drop after you’ve done your cleaning.
This is also a good time to inspect the gutters and guards for any sign of damage or loose fasteners. Timely repairs before winter arrives may make all the difference between gutters that withstand snow loading and those that end up crashing to the ground. Falling gutters may tear the fascia boards down and require emergency roofing repairs since these openings let in cold air.
Metal vs Plastic for Winter Protection
It’s true that metal gutter guards become cold and may form ice over the surface in the winter. Plastic gutter guards are less heat conductive, so they don’t tend to form ice or icicles. However, they also do little to help spread the heat released by a cable or tape designed to prevent ice damming. For heated roof edges, aluminum gutter guards are definitely a better choice. The increased strength of metal gutter guards compared to plastic also makes it the better material in areas with cold winters and heavy snowfall.
Of course, there are gutter guards for every climate and every home. Let K-Guard guide you to the right guards for your home. Choose durable and integrated aluminum guard solutions to put an end to winter damage and collapsed gutter issues. Even in the heaviest snowfall, there are ways to keep your roof edges protected with the right combination of equipment. Contact us today for a custom consultation and recommendations on adding gutter guards to your home.