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Should You Remove Downspouts in Winter?

There is typically no need to remove your gutter downspouts in winter. It’s best to leave them attached so that they can safely direct melted snow and ice to the ground where it can drain away. However, it can be beneficial to remove downspout extensions that lie on the ground. These are far more prone to freezing than the vertical portion of your downspout.

Potential damage to rain gutters from ice blockage

What Happens if You Remove Your Gutter Downspouts?

Removing the downspouts from your gutters to prepare for winter can cause more problems than solutions. Without the downspout present to direct the melted ice and snow to the ground, the water can blow back under your roof or into the seams around doors, windows, and siding. The water may also refreeze where it hits your house, causing ice buildup.

  • If you remove your downspouts, water that drains from the hole on the underside of your gutter will blow back towards your house and may cause water leaks.
  • Removing your downspouts in winter can contribute to worse water and ice damage.
  • Focus on preventing your gutters and downspouts from freezing instead of removing them.

Rather than remove your downspouts, follow our tips to keep downspouts from freezing. As long as no ice blockages are allowed to remain in your downspouts for long, the water flow will drain out to the ground safely.

Should You Remove Your Downspout Extensions in Winter?

Downspout extensions should be removed before winter sets in. This rule applies to both rigid and flexible downspout extensions. Because downspout extensions are not steeply sloped, they are prone to forming ice blockages. Also, because they travel along the ground they are prone to being covered or blocked with snow.

  • Remove downspout extensions before winter sets in.
  • Ground-level downspout extensions are prone to forming snow and ice blockages.
  • Blockages in downspout extensions are a common cause of frozen downspouts.

If you remove the extensions from your downspouts you can go a long way to preventing frozen downspouts. Your gutters will be able to drain properly. So, there’s no need to remove your entire downspout, but ground-level extensions should be removed and stored for winter.

What Happens if Your Downspouts Freeze?

If your downspouts freeze, this can cause serious blockages that form large ice dams in your gutters. The weight of snow and ice can cause your gutters and downspouts to tear off your home, which can cause structural damage. However, by removing downspout extensions and taking steps to prevent your gutters from freezing, you will eliminate most of these risks.

  • Frozen downspouts can lead to ice blockages that damage or destroy your gutters.
  • Clear snow away from the lower end of frozen downspouts.
  • You can clear ice blockages in downspouts by pouring boiling water into the top of the spout.
  • Keep downspouts thawed by wrapping them with this automatic heat tape.

If your downspouts do freeze, there are several ways to clear them. First, shovel away any snow that may be blocking the lower end of the downspout. Then, pour hot water into the top of the downspout. For an automatic method of preventing downspouts from freezing, wrap your downspouts in heat tape. This will keep them ice-free all winter.

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Should You Take Your Downspouts Off in Winter?

It is not necessary to take your gutter downspouts off in preparation for winter. Instead, follow these tips:

  • Remove downspout extensions that travel along the ground.
  • Perform fall gutter maintenance to remove potential blockages.
  • Keep snow cleared away from the bottom end of your downspouts.
  • Clear ice blockages with warm water or by wrapping a heat cable around your downspout.

Taking these simple steps to prevent and clear blockages can prevent hundreds of dollars of damage to your entire gutter system. There’s no need to remove your entire downspout because a few heating cables can keep them ice free all winter.

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