- 1 Best Winter Rated Gutters
- 2 How to Protect Your Gutters in the Winter
- 3 Why You Should Use Strong Gutters in Areas with Harsh Winters
- 4 How Can Our Gutter Professionals Help?
Best Winter Rated Gutters
Excellent gutter systems are necessary for areas that experience all parts of the weather spectrum, from rainy springs to hot summers and icy cold winters.
If you live in an area with four seasons, your gutters must be wide enough to handle the rainfall and sturdy enough to withstand the weight of snow and ice – especially if you live in an area with harsh winters.
In this case, you’ll need gutters that can effectively drain melted runoff while still supporting the extra weight of snow and ice.
Here are the top choices for winter-ready gutter styles.
Half Round Gutters
Half-round gutters have a curved, semi-circular design that allows the snow to shift and melt evenly.
As snow and ice melt, the water moves towards the middle part of the gutter, then flows evenly along the gutter to the downspout.
Half-round gutters are available in various materials:
- Stainless steel
Whatever material you choose, the surface of half-round gutters is smooth, allowing the melted runoff to swiftly glide away without giving it time to freeze.
Copper and zinc resist rust and corrosion, which further ensures the surface of the gutters will remain smooth.
K-style gutters have a unique k-like, cross-sectional shape that mimics the appearance of crown molding. They have a flat bottom with a sloped curve side that helps shift snow to the bottom of the gutter, where it can drain.
Just like half-round gutters, K-style ones are available in various materials, sizes, and colors. For winter weather, make sure you install a wide size so it can handle all the snow and rainfall your home will endure throughout the year.
For example, a five or six-inch wide gutter will have more surface area to hold snow melting off your roof than the standard four-inch size.
Plus, since K-style gutters connect flush against the fascia boards, they can hold a lot of weight – especially if you add extra supports.
Copper gutters are a great choice of material, albeit expensive, and are available in K-style gutters.
They are great at withstanding the elements, whether sub-zero temperatures with snow and ice or a heatwave. Copper has a low thermal expansion coefficient, which means sudden temperature swings won’t cause cracking or buckling like other gutter materials.
Plus, copper has outstanding corrosion resistance, often outlasting aluminum and stainless steel gutters by decades.
Aluminum gutters can hold lots of snow and ice, too, especially thicker, winter-rated types. Although it is more susceptible to corrosion over time than copper, it lasts longer than other materials, like vinyl.
In climates that experience severe winters, aluminum rain gutters may not be the best choice, as the weight of heavy snow and ice can damage them. However, if you choose heavy gauge aluminum instead of the standard thin type, they should hold up well.
If your home has copper flashing or algae-resistant shingles (which contain copper), you should avoid aluminum gutters. Copper and aluminum react adversely with one another – leading to corrosion of aluminum.
As the aluminum composition corrodes, holes and cracks can develop in the gutter that will quickly lead to you needing replacements or repairs.
So, avoid aluminum gutters if you have roofing materials containing copper. Otherwise, winter-rated aluminum gutters are a great choice, as long as the entire gutter system is aluminum.
Steel gutters come in two versions: galvanized steel and stainless steel. The primary difference between the two types of steel is their ability to resist corrosion and rust.
Galvanized steel gutters usually have a protective coating, but even without it, rust usually takes over twenty years before it becomes an issue.
On the other hand, stainless steel is entirely rust and corrosion resistant, so gutters made with it last several decades.
Apart from these differences, these two types of steel gutters are incredibly durable. They can withstand snow, hail, heat, and wind without sustaining much damage.
However, as galvanized steel gutters age, their rust may slow down drainage as the snow and ice catch on weak, rusted portions.
Stainless steel is versatile, and paint adheres to them well. Therefore, you can make steel gutters any color to match them to your home.
Most styles of gutters (half-round, k-style, etc.) have galvanized and stainless steel options. Galvanized steel will oxidize and rust within ten to fifteen years. However, in that time, they do an excellent job resisting most types of weather, including harsh winters.
On the flip side, stainless steel ones don’t have problems with rust, but they cost more.
How to Protect Your Gutters in the Winter
Most gutter systems handle themselves just fine throughout warmer, rainy months. However, they might need assistance for the winter months, such as extra material and brackets.
But sometimes that isn’t enough as large amounts of snow and ice can still damage your gutters. Thankfully, there are many convenient solutions to help your gutters cope with the excess weight.
Add Gutter Heaters
Gutter heaters can be an excellent solution to prevent the formation of ice dams and icicles, which can add lots of weight to your gutters.
There are various types of gutter heaters on the market; the two main types are self-regulating and thermostat-controlled.
Self-Regulating Gutter Heaters
Self-regulating gutter heaters have a conductive core that adjusts to accommodate the surface temperature of your gutters. The colder it gets, the more conductive the core becomes, which increases the wattage – and the heat– the cable produces.
On warm days, it turns itself off, making it a low-maintenance and efficient option to melt snow and ice in your gutters.
They also have an on and off switch, so homeowners can turn it off in the summer and on in the winter.
Thermostat-Controlled Gutter Heaters
Thermostat-controlled gutter heaters are a constant wattage system. They remain at a consistent temperature that you set on a thermostat controller – just like the thermostat for the furnace in your home.
Thermostat-controlled gutter heaters tend to use more power than self-regulating ones.
These gutter heaters come in the form of a heat cable or heat tape, which you lay directly inside the length of your gutters.
The heat from the cable keeps the gutters at a temperature above freezing, allowing snow and ice to melt and flow easily out of your downspout.
The cables produce a good amount of heat, so it’s best to have a professional install them to prevent hazards instead of a DIY job. If they overlap, the cables could overheat and lead to a fire.
Typically, these cables are installed in a zigzag pattern inside the drainpipes and gutters.
Improve Attic Venting and Insulation
Proper attic ventilation and insulation are a great way to help your gutters out in the winter. How? A low attic temperature ensures snow doesn’t melt and turn into ice, weighing down your gutters.
By adding insulation to your attic, you prevent vast amounts of heat loss which melts the snow on your roof. Plus, it makes heating your home more efficient.
Along with inadequate insulation, poor attic ventilation causes issues with the formation of ice dams. So, increasing or adding ventilation to your attic is good for your gutters as well.
When your attic doesn’t have adequate ventilation, warm air rises to the underside of the peak of your roof. This heat causes the snow to melt and flow to lower parts of the roof where it is colder. It then freezes as it flows into your gutters and forms an ice dam.
By ensuring your attic has excellent insulation and ventilation, the attic will remain at an even temperature, and you’ll sidestep these nasty ice-dam issues and ice damage.
Reinforce Gutters with Extra Brackets
Reinforcements with additional hanging brackets can be very beneficial during the winter months. During summer, spring, and most of the fall, clean gutters will quickly drain rainfall, so weight buildup is not usually an issue.
However, snow and ice buildup could add an enormous amount of weight to your gutters in the winter. Although brackets with further spacing will suffice in warmer seasons, increasing the number of brackets could prevent catastrophic issues from the excess weight of snow and ice.
Install Gutter Helmets
Gutter helmets are basically helmets for your gutters (just like the name implies). They’re a curved gutter cover that goes directly over the top. The curvature stops just before the gutter’s edge, allowing water to flow into the gutter and drain.
They can be a great addition to your gutters and prevent leaf blockages and extra winter snow and ice from accumulating in them. They also reduce gutter cleaning frequency, gutter maintenance, and gutter damage.
Additionally, the extra strength from the guards helps protect the system and downspouts from snapping off of the fascia due to excess weight from frozen clogs.
Gutter helmets and gutter guards also pair well with gutter heaters, which sit in the bottom of the gutter in a zig-zag pattern.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
Maintaining clean, debris-free gutters is good year-round, but it becomes especially critical during the winter. Clogged gutters are a problem any time of year.
In the warmer months, clogs lead to pest infestations and poor water flow, and in the winter, it leads to ice dams. This is because leaves, twigs, or other debris can trap in snow and water, preventing them from draining and causing ice to form.
The extra weight of the debris, ice, and snow will put lots of stress and strain on your gutter system. It can lead to your gutters sagging or even collapsing under the extra weight.
Ensure that your gutters are clean and prepared for winter to avoid the hassle of ice dams, icicles, and other common gutter nuisances!
Remember – get your gutters cleaned once or twice a year (or more if you’re home is surrounded by trees).
Trim Nearby Trees
Even though most of the leaves come off the trees in the fall, plenty fall off year-round. If you have trees near your house, the leaves always find their way to your gutters. This can cause an unpleasant mixture of snow, ice, and debris.
Trimming nearby trees helps keep the branches away from your roof, making leaves less likely to drop into your gutters.
Plus, ice and snow could also weigh down overhanging branches, which may snap under the weight and damage your gutters and roof.
De-icers can be very helpful if your area gets frequent snow and ice storms. De-icing barriers go on your roof and will melt snow and ice before it slides down towards your gutters, where it forms into ice dams.
You can fill stockings with a de-icing compound and lay it across the roof to prevent ice formation on your roof. The combination of chemicals will melt ice and snow, allowing water to flow off the roof and through the gutters.
Using de-icers can also help prevent weight buildup in your gutters, preventing sagging gutters and failing hinges.
Why You Should Use Strong Gutters in Areas with Harsh Winters
A durable, robust gutter system is needed in areas with harsh winters. Although it may seem counterintuitive to even have gutters that could trap snow and ice, they’re still a good thing to have.
Without gutters, the snow and ice melting off of your roof will run down your home’s fascia and siding. Once it reaches the ground, it will saturate through, causing issues as it freezes and refreezes.
The constant cycle of freezing and refreezing can damage your foundation, causing cracks to form, where water may potentially flow through.
This can lead to water damage, mold, and mildew – all of which are costly to fix. A strong gutter system can prevent these problems by diverting water from your home to a drainage area.
For harsh winters, you must have durable gutters. You can strengthen them with extra brackets or hangers and combat freezing ice dam issues with gutter heaters, helmets, and the like.
How Can Our Gutter Professionals Help?
Selecting the best winter gutter for your home might not be as straightforward as you’d like. If you have questions about getting new gutters that hold up well in the winter, enlist the help of our gutter professionals.
Our local gutter experts can advise you of the best practices for your home’s gutter system by taking into account your local weather, your home, and nearby foliage.
It’s typically best to seek assistance from a professional gutter installation service a few months before winter’s start. This ensures that you have enough time to prepare, whether we need to clean your gutters, install gutter heaters, or trim nearby trees.