Oct 20, 2022

4 Tips on How to Fix A Leaky Gutter In Winter

Tim Shepel

Winter is but a few months away, and you know what that means. Snow-packed gutters, clogged drains, and ice dams will be aplenty.

AccuWeather predicts that this winter will be somewhat different due to several factors, mainly on what they call a “triple dip La Niña.” Cooler waters near the equator will bring colder winters to North America in the following months. Due to their tricky nature, meteorologists aren’t sure whether or not this winter will be notably harsher than past ones.

Given climate change, it’s safe to presume the worst. A leak is the last thing you want to happen to your gutter, so it pays to prepare before the first snowfall. But when leaks spring after the first snowfall, don’t panic. This post will discuss tips and other advice on how to fix a leaky gutter in winter, among other things, so get your gear ready.

1. Take advantage of fair weather

No matter the season, safety should always be your top priority when fixing gutter issues. It’s one thing to be several feet above the ground, but another to be several feet above the ground covered in ice or snow. Never underestimate what a wrong fall can do to you; thousands are sent to the hospital yearly because of it.

Staying up-to-date about weather forecasts is a step in the right direction. While no forecast is 100% accurate, the predictions for the first five days are usually 90% accurate. Look for breaks in the winter storm or heavy snowfall and use those opportunities to perform repairs. Of course, be prepared for sudden weather changes.

Keeping close tabs on the weather also helps schedule service appointments if you can’t perform the repairs yourself. Coordinate with your preferred contractor to get the repairs done before the next storm occurs.

2. Flush out gutters at every opportunity

Roof repairs in winter. Two workers repair the roof on a frosty and snowy day.

A pre-winter gutter flush is essential, as debris can clog the downspout and prevent runoff from making its way down. However, you’ll be doing a lot of flushing between snowfalls because of one apparent fact: packed snow is heavy.

The density of snow depends on weather conditions, but experts estimate that it can reach up to 30 lbs. per cubic foot. Even snowmelt poses its own risk, as temperature drops throughout winter can cause it to refreeze. At 57.2 lbs. per cubic foot, ice will exert far more stress on your gutter and cause it to pull away.

If the runoff is left unchecked, you’ll have to learn how to fix a gutter that is falling off on top of plugging any leaks. Take time to scoop the snow out of the gutter, especially while clearing snow from the roof. A gutter scoop works best, but a small gardening shovel does the same.

3. Use sealants for temporary repairs

If major repairs, such as replacing worn-out gutter segments, aren’t possible during winter, you can opt for a temporary fix. One surefire way is to plug the leak with enough gutter sealant, but don’t expect it to hold forever.

You don’t have to worry about sealants holding their own under extreme weather. Most brands are formulated to maintain their adhesion strength and flexibility in subzero temperatures and weather with high ultraviolet radiation (which isn’t unusual when the sun is up and the ground’s blanketed in snow).

That said, some sealants can take a few days to dry; until then, they’ll be vulnerable to extremes. That’s why reading the forecasts ahead of time is crucial. Two days of uninterrupted fair weather is enough for most sealants to cure completely.

4. Use gutter heat tape to cover leaky sections

Another valuable item for performing temporary repairs is gutter heat tape. Most tape brands are made with butyl rubber-aluminum, which combines butyl rubber’s resilience and flexibility in temperature extremes and aluminum’s thermal conductivity. As such, it serves two purposes.

First, the gutter tape helps cover gutter sections riddled with holes, a reality among older gutters. Provided a minimum overlap of one inch and four inches on the seams, the tape can hold its own amid running snowmelt. Second, it can be an excellent heat conductor, mitigating the risk of ice dam formation and helping thaw snow deposits.

Conclusion

Regardless of the severity of winter this year, a home’s gutter can only withstand so much abuse. Snow is hazardous when it’s allowed to stay in the gutter for too long, causing you to pay extra for additional repairs.

The tips discussed in this post may not be permanent repairs. But if you have to ask how much to fix a gutter, these tips will cost less than waiting for the weather to improve.