Why Do Downspouts Freeze and What Can You Do About It?

Jan 16, 2023Blog, Cleaners, Gutters, Minneapolis

Downspouts are among the most important components of your gutter system. It prevents your home from foundation damage, soil erosion, and other water-related issues. Like your gutters, you need to have them cleaned regularly to avoid clogs that can affect the water flow. Moreover, one problem that many homeowners face during winter is frozen downspouts. Read on to learn more about why downspouts freeze, the potential problems that frost can cause, and what you can do about it.

Why Do Downspouts Freeze?

In the dead of winter, the accumulation of ice in downspouts is an all too common circumstance. Often rain and snow can build up if there is enough debris inside the pipe that blocks water flow, or if the bottom mouth of the downspout is blocked by heavy snowfall. The elbows of your downspouts are especially susceptible to ice buildup because they can act as a collection point for still water. And of course, ice dams along your roofline can often accelerate the freezing of downspouts if left unaddressed.

If you have frozen downspouts, you should contact a gutter cleaning professional as soon as possible. Failure to act quickly upon this issue can cause ice to back up into your gutters. The additional load on your gutter system will compromise its structural integrity. Over time, your gutters and downspouts will pull away from your home, causing huge problems, such as poor drainage and water leaks.

ice on gutter system Minneapolis, MN

What Can We Do About It?

Some experts believe that homeowners should simply leave frozen downspouts alone. If the temperatures in your area will soon rise above freezing long enough for all of the ice to melt, taking a wait-and-see attitude may make sense. And if the problem is snow buildup around the bottom of the downspout, simply clearing this area of snow may resolve the issue.

A more active approach to take, only when it’s safe to do so and you are comfortable with getting on a ladder, is to pour warm water into the top opening of the downspout. You can also connect a hose to a hot water tap and use it to thaw the ice. The warm water may be enough to thaw minor ice buildup in your downspout or get rid of blockages caused by the debris.

A much safer option is to run hot water down the exterior of the downspout near where the ice buildup is. If you have metal downspouts, the heat may be sufficient to create a means for the water to flow through the component again.

Avoid The Use of Force

Do not attempt to use heavy force if the water is not enough to thaw your downspouts. The use of a hammer or a bat to try and break up the ice inside will only do more harm than good. Try instead to use a consumer-grade heat gun or hair dryer to heat the outside of the downspout near where the ice blockage is. Start from near the bottom of the downspout and work your way up. Be mindful that directly heating the downspout through the bottom opening runs the risk of electrocution and should be avoided, lest the ice breaks all of a sudden and water and ice rushes through the opening.

Prevent Frozen Downspouts Altogether

When your downspouts are not frozen anymore, there are many preventative measures you can take to avoid refreezing. Attaching heat tape or a heating cable along the downspout can maintain an above-freezing temperature inside them. You can run a heating cable inside the downspout as well, but not to clear the ice blockage because these cables won’t wheel when submerged in water. Consider adding heating cables along your roof near the gutters to minimize the possibility of ice dams in your gutters.

Trust The Gutter Maids In Winter Weather

With regular maintenance, your gutters and downspouts would be able to divert water effectively at a safe distance from your home. Gutter maintenance matters more during the colder months because as the ice expands, the risk of fascia and foundation damage increases. It can delay the need for a gutter replacement and save you on costly repairs. Let the Gutter Maids in Minneapolis work with you to ensure your gutters are running in peak condition all year round! Call today to schedule a free estimate.