How to Prepare Your Gutters for Winter

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, southern BC, including Vancouver is in for some stormy winter weather. Because temperatures are predicted to fluctuate between mild and below average during the month of November, December might experience above average rainfall with some snow just to make the pre-holiday season more challenging. Are your gutters ready for winter?

Inspect the Roofing System

Use binoculars to inspect the roof for any potential problems. Look for missing, damaged or stained roofing tiles.

Check flashings and vents for signs of damage, including dents and rust. Ensure the valleys are free of debris build-up.

Focus the binoculars on the soffit and fascia. If soffit panels and fascia boards are made of wood make sure there are no indications of rot, mold or mildew.

Gutter Maintenance

The best way to help your gutters get through winter is to thoroughly clean them inside and out once most of the leaves have fallen. Fix anything that can be repaired or replaced such as sagging gutter sections or raised nails and worn fasteners.

Check for leaks either by running the garden hose through the gutter system or inspecting the gutter seams up to three hours after it has rained. Examine end caps for worn sealant.

Water damaged fascia and/or water stained siding could be indicators of serious gutter troubles ahead. If the cause is not evident, consult a gutter contractor.

Downspout Maintenance

The quickest way to check downspouts for any clogs is to run water from the gutter outlet (top of the downspout) and see if it pours or trickles out of the downpipe. If water doesn’t freely exit the downspout and the blockage can’t be seen with the eye, the clog is most likely in the middle of the downpipe.

Check for dents; they can be ideal places for debris to become snagged.

If downspouts are not securely fastened to the house, winter storms can shake them loose or misalign them, diminishing their capacity to dispel water from the gutter system.

To be effective, downpipes should deposit water at least five feet away from a house’s foundation. When water is exiting the gutters too close to your home, you might need a downspout extension. If you are already using a downpipe extender, inspect it for damage and ensure that it is still attached correctly.