SNOW & ICE DAMAGE to GUTTERS - CONTENTS: Snow damage to roof gutters: pushing gutters off of the roof. Ice damage to roof gutters and leaders: falling off, holes, leaks. Roof gutters, downspouts & roof drainage control systems
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
This article describes gutter problems caused by snow and ice and we suggest some remedies where snow or ice tend to freeze in gutters or push gutters off of the building. This article series discusses how to choose, install, diagnose & maintain roof gutters & downspouts, & roof drainage systems to prevent building leaks and water entry.
The holes in the aluminum gutter shown below (left) were caused by someone chopping ice at the roof eaves - a nice clue that the building has a problem with ice dams.
Especially in climates of extensive snow fall and freezing weather, snow and ice sliding down roofs can make it very difficult to keep gutters on a building.
In the New England states of the U.S. we often see that homeowners have simply given up any hope of keeping their gutters in place. Instead these homes employ metal flashing (against ice dam leaks) at the building eaves.
But unless these same homeowners are meticulous about surface grading around these buildings, basement or crawl space water entry is likely to be a problem, especially in wet, non-freezing weather or when it rains before the ground has frozen.
In areas of moderate snow and ice loads on roofs, mounting the gutter so that its outer edge is at or below a straight line projected from the roof slope outwards can prevent snow or ice from pushing the gutters off of the building.
Mount gutters and leaders securely to the building, using hangers at 16" on center.
Keep gutters clear of clogging debris so that water and snowmelt do not accumulate in the gutters. The weight of melting snow and ice in a clogged gutter can accumulate to become enough to pull the gutter off of the building.
Use of heat tapes on the roof eaves or in gutters and downspouts is, in our OPINION, a last resort that may also work.
Abandon using gutters and leaders on the building: in areas of heavy snow and ice loading on buildings, such as in northern New England in the U.S., (photo, above left, White Mountains area of New Hampshire) building owners rely on a combination of roof edge flashing or ice and water shield to prevent ice dam leaks into the building, combined with careful drainage slope-detailing and waterproofing of the soil or subsoil surface and/or foundation waterproofing to keep roof spillage from entering the building.
Watch out: on buildings with no roof drainage system to conduct water away from the building in areas of heavy ice and snow, snow (fallen off of the roof or shoveled from nearby walks) can form a "snow dam" parallel to the building foundation. During warming weather melting snow or ice on the building roof may drain behind the snow dam to collect right at the building foundation, inviting basement or crawl space flooding.
Other measures to keep water out of such basements are illustrated below (just ignore the downspout in this sketch).
Foundation Waterproofing & Footing Drains
buildings built to typical construction standards and practices are not "boats" - that is, the foundation is not water tight. Instead we rely on keeping water away from the foundation walls.
But for problem sites, wet soil sites, etc., it may be necessary to take extra steps to try to make the building foundation more waterproof or "boat-like".
The illustration demonstrates an extra building waterproofing step taken in areas of wet soils: a geotextile or foundation drainage mat is placed against the building foundation wall and carried down to the gravel-covered footing drain system.
Watch out: this system will not work unless the footing drain system itself is intact and draining properly.
Watch out: it is still necessary to extend the roof drainage system downspouts well away from the soil backfill and onto ground that drains away from the structure (as shown) lest we overload and clog the foundation waterproofing system.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
Questions & answers or comments about cause & prevention of ice or snow damage to roof gutters.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: email@example.com
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Certainteed Weatherboard fiber cement siding and trim products - see certainteed.com/ or see certainteed.com/resources/sidingandtrimspecsheet.pdf
"Flashing: the plain solution to leaky walls", Thomas E. Remmele, Manager, Technical Services, Sto Corporation, Building Standards, November/December 1999 p. 21-25.
"Weather-Resistive Barriers [copy on file as /interiors/Weather_Resistant_Barriers_DOE.pdf ] - ", how to select and install housewrap and other types of weather resistive barriers, U.S. DOE
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones