Have you seen the pictures on the news of fountains that have frozen mid-flow? How about Niagara Falls freezing over?
Are you wondering how your gutters or downspouts can be frozen? Think about it this way. If something that is draining straight down can freeze (i.e. Niagara Falls), can you see how water can freeze in your gutters and downspouts? It is the same concept.
“But there’s not any ice on my roof!” Even if there does not appear to be any ice on your roof, there can still be ice in your gutters and downspouts. If you feel like your downspouts are not draining correctly, a good way to tell if there is ice in your downspout is by tapping on the downspout and listening to hear if it sounds like it is solid or if it has a hollow sound.
Thanks to the Polar Vortex and the sub-zero temperatures, we receive many calls about gutters overflowing. The reason for this appearance of overflow is because even if you can’t see it, there is a good chance your gutters are filled with ice. Anything that comes on top of your ice-filled gutters would appear to be overflowing, but really there is just not any more room in your already-full gutters. It would be similar to having a full cup of coffee and then trying to pour more into it. There isn't any room for the new coffee, so the cup would overflow.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about the frozen gutters & downspouts until the temperatures rise, and we have a good, old-fashioned thaw. At this point, your gutters and downspouts should start draining properly, and the melted ice (water) should flow out of your downspouts per usual. If, after a thaw, your gutters & downspouts are still not draining properly, then it would be time to have your gutters & downspouts inspected and cleaned out of any non-ice related debris (i.e. – leaves, twigs, miscellaneous debris that was not cleaned out in the fall before the snow and ice).
We hope that this information lends more insight into what is really going on in your gutters during the winter. Stay warm!