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Some Important Rules of Thumb for Designing Gutters in Maine Homes

September 12, 2013

Writer Mike McClintock of Chicago Tribune provides some practical tips on how to prevent snow and ice from clogging the roof gutters. According to McClintock, chocking a gutter system with snow and ice leads to the formation of dams that cause leaks when melted snow starts backing up under shingles. McClintock’s tips focused on keeping the gutters clear to let water flow away from the house, saving the basement from getting drenched and the roof from taking on more load.

As one of the northeastern states, Maine experiences extremely cold weather in winter. In fact, just last February, it was pummeled by a record-breaking blizzard, shutting down power in 700,000 homes and businesses and dumping three-foot thick snow on the surface. Such load can be too much for a flat or slightly pitched roof to take, and that’s why the gutters of Maine homes should be properly designed to keep melted snow and ice from wreaking further damage on the roof.

Just as the roof needs adequate inclination to prevent snow buildup, the roof gutter also needs enough slope to ease the flow of water. The standard slope for gutters is 1/4 inch for every 10 feet, a sufficient inclination to let melted ice flow before the cold freezes it on its way to the downspout. McClintock even recommended to make it an inch for every 10 linear feet of gutter to increase the flow rate; this way, roof drainage will remain efficient even during blizzards.

Protect gutters from snow and ice damage

Sometimes, having a single outlet for a long gutter just isn’t enough to get rid of copious amounts of water, especially if a portion is already iced up. According to McClintock, the best way to deal with this issue is to split the run of seamless gutters of Maine homes, and establish a high point in the middle and one additional outlet. Doing this can double the amount of water channeled away from the house, or in case one is clogged with twigs and ice, the other could still do the job.

A lot of homeowners prefer to thaw the snow or ice buildup with hot water, although this gives only moderate success. McClintock explains that even boiling water has little effect on a mass of ice, which means this method only works with thin ice sheets at the edge of the roof. A propane torch will work better but may cause fire if used recklessly; either method will remove sharp and pointed ice formation at the eaves that might fall and cause injury to people.

While snow looks harmless in little amounts, it can cause fatal damage to homes. The gutter system of any roof plays an important role in minimizing the danger heavy snow poses to structures and their occupants. If designed and maintained properly, this system can hold off common disasters in winter. Thus, having gutter systems designed by companies like Renewal by Anderson is a good start.

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