While most of the country’s snowfalls have been lighter than normal this year (not you, Alaska!), we think it’s still important to address a snow related issue that might lead someone to call us if they aren’t properly educated about it and gutter guards. While you might find this information repeated in our FAQs, it can’t hurt to have multiple ways to get to the same facts.
We’ve talked a lot about icicles, ice dams and what can happen to a gutter guard in the wintertime. But we can still expand on it a little more: what happens when there’s wet snow and gutter guards?
We got thinking of the old expression, “Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow”, because the snow type can have a huge impact on what happens with it. (FYI, a quick look on Wikipedia told us that there’s no truth to the saying, Inuits have about the same number as the English language. It’s the Sami People who have lots of words for snow.)
Sometimes, snow isn’t light and fluffy, building up on the surface of a gutter guard the same way it builds up on the roof. Sometimes it falls wet and heavy. The good-for-making-snowmen-and-snowball-type of snow. It can also quickly form into an almost slush-like surface.
We’re not going to claim to be experts here, but as snow starts to melt, it becomes a slushy, or extra saturated with water. Kind of the consistency of a good margarita. And when snow gets like this, sitting on your roof or gutters, it’s going to drip or drop off your gutter, sometimes as drips and possibly in small clumps.
When Wet Snow Sits on Gutter Guards
When you mix wet snow and gutter guards, the snow is still sitting on top of a frozen, solid metal surface. Gutter guards will freeze when the temperatures drop. If there is no rain or snow when the temperature drops, not a big deal, the gutter guards are “frozen”, but they’re dry.
But if there’s frozen rain or wet snow when the gutter guard has frozen, it’s not going to accept water. Where’s the water going to go? In our case, it’s going to drip off of our drip edge and onto the ground below. And it will do the same with every other product on the market as well. Wide open mesh screens like they sell at the big box stores may be the exception; all the wet snow will just wind up turning the gutter into one long ice cube tray. The weight of all this ice is the reason you see homes where the gutter has pulled away after a winter.
Most people buy a gutter guard because for the majority of the year they get the benefit of not having to clean their gutters. They get to stay off of wobbly ladders. They avoid water damage that might have plagued them in the past. In our opinion, all good reasons to invest in gutter guards.
If they live in a climate where the temperatures can drop, even in places like Florida or Texas, water can drip over the system on the coldest of days.
We’ve got to be honest and say this really upsets some people. And if you think this is going to be you, we ask that you consider how you’ll deal with it before you purchase a gutter guard, ours or a competitors.
Water will drip onto shrub beds, walkways, steps, decks, front stoops, your air conditioner unit, in front of your garage doors, your sliding doors. It will drip anywhere, everywhere, and onto anything that exists on the ground if there is a gutter above.
Most homeowners address the issue in the way we’ve described in the past: with a snow rake to pull a section of snow off the roof in places where they need the section of gutter icicle free. Or they heat the gutter guard itself. With our new Ice Shield heated gutter protection, you can keep the drips and icicles from forming in the first place. We also have the benefit in being able to retrofit the heat, so if you do decide it bothers you, we’ve got a solution.
The most important thing is to have a clear understanding of what happens to gutter guards and wet snow. With this, and some remedies, it need not be an obstacle to buying a micro mesh gutter guard.