Winter Eavestrough Challenges: Common Problems and Practical Solutions Skip to content

Winter Eavestrough Challenges: Common Problems and Practical Solutions

Eavestrough maintenance occurs all year round. Not everyone enjoys this particular task, but there's no avoiding it if you want to protect your roof from water damage.

If you've experienced Calgary's unpredictable weather, you'll understand the importance of keeping your roof in tip-top shape.

Eavestroughs, also known as gutters, redirect water around the perimeter of your roof to downpipes. Channelling rainwater and snow thaw prevents patches of water from sitting on your roof.

If water stays in a single area for long periods, it will rot your entire roofing system.

With a damaged eavestrough, shingles would need replacing, water causes mould, and you would have yard flooding. This affects your home's structural foundation.

Ultimately, you would need to fix or replace your gutter system.

Regularly maintaining your eavestrough can be a hassle. Especially around winter, but like many parts of your house's exterior, it's vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.

To help avoid damages, here are some signs to keep an eye out for and how to avoid them.

Common eavestrough problems during winter

eavestrough icicles

Ice Dams

One of the common issues with eavestroughs during winter is the formation of ice dams. Ice dams occur when the snow melts and freezes again in the gutters, causing water flow disruptions.

This problem is prevalent in Alberta due to the fluctuating temperatures between warm days and freezing nights. Ice dams can lead to water backups, resulting in leaks, rust, sagging, and cracks.

To prevent ice dams, it is important to clear the snow from your roof, especially focusing on the eaves, attic, and bathroom and kitchen vents. By removing the snow, you can reduce the chances of it melting and refreezing in the gutters.

Improving attic insulation is another effective solution to prevent ice dams. By ensuring proper insulation, you keep your roof warm during winter, which helps the snow melt faster. This allows the runoff to flow into the gutter instead of remaining in place and causing damage to your roof.

Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters are mainly caused by dead leaves accumulated from autumn. These dead leaves contribute to the formation of ice dams, which can lead to roof damage.

The weight of piled-up leaves, combined with water and snow, puts extra pressure on the gutter. This causes warping and structural damage. If dead leaves are left unattended, they can lead to clogged downspouts, resulting in water overflow.

To avoid clogged gutters, it's important to take a proactive approach before the first snowfall. Clear your roof of any debris that could potentially cause clogging and prevent damage.

Installing a leaf-guard can be a convenient solution, as it eliminates the need for manual cleaning. A leaf-guard acts as a protective barrier.

It prevents tree leaves, pine needles, dirt, and other debris from clogging the eavestrough and disrupting the proper flow of water. It saves you the hassle of climbing up a ladder and ensures efficient gutter performance throughout the winter season.


Icicles are another frequent problem during the winter season. They can cause damage to your gutters due to the excessive weight they carry. Over time, this wear and tear may require you to replace your eavestroughs.

Moreover, icicles pose a safety hazard to your family and visitors as there is no way to predict when they might fall off. It is important to exercise caution when removing icicles from your gutters to avoid any potential accidents.

Signs of Gutter Damage

eavestrough leaky

Withstanding Calgary's harsh winters for decades takes a toll on your gutters. Eventually necessitating a complete replacement.

Properly maintained galvanized steel and aluminum gutters typically last around 20 years. While high-end copper gutters can endure for up to 50 years.

Therefore, it's crucial to remain vigilant and watch for any indications of damage that may require attention.

Overflowing Gutters

It's likely that the debris in your gutters has limited their capacity, resulting in overflow. This overflow can lead to water pouring out excessively and seeping into the foundation of your home.

Sagging Gutters

The weight of snow and other matter will wear down your eavestrough. Under extra weight, fasteners will give in, and the entire structure (or sections) will fall to the ground. Not only does it impede water flow, but trapped water also causes mould and pest infestations.

Gutter Leaks

If you notice moisture damage, water stains inside your home, or puddles near the downspouts, you most likely have a leaky gutter. Seamless gutters have more resistance to leaks than other types.


As paint peels, you lose the protective coating in your gutter. This leads to rust, which usually appears at the bottom from elemental exposure.

Mould or Mildew

Excessive moisture caused by malfunctioning gutters can promote the growth of mould or mildew. This can occur both inside and outside of your home, leading to potential health issues and further damage.

How to Fix Your Eavestrough

man on ladder cleaning house gutter from leaves and dirt

Replacing damaged gutters can cost thousands of dollars. It's an expensive process, so staying proactive is the key to a long-lasting gutter.

Clearing Clogs

Regularly inspect and clean your eavestroughs to remove debris and prevent clogs.

Use a plastic scoop or handheld shovel to scoop out leaves, twigs, and other materials that could clog gutters.

Install Extra Features

Before winter hits Calgary, consider installing extra features to combat the cold.

Installing downspout extensions helps divert water away from the structure and foundation of your home.

Extensions prevent blockages at the end of the eavestrough. Blockages increase pressure to build and burst near the bottom.

Repair Leaks

Follow an easy-to-follow guide from Home Depot for fixing leaky gutters.

Tools needed:

  • Stiff wire brush
  • Roofing cement
  • Extendable ladder
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tarp
  • Plastic scoop or handheld shovel

Reinforce Sagging Eavestrough

Sagging eavestroughs can be reinforced using gutter brackets or hangers.

These devices help provide additional support and prevent further sagging.

Install the brackets or hangers at regular intervals along the eavestrough to ensure stability.

Adding Gutter Guards

Gutter guards or leaf screens can be installed to prevent debris from entering the eavestroughs.

These devices help minimize clogs and reduce the frequency of cleaning required.

Choose a gutter guard system that suits your specific needs and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation.

Prioritize Safety

Choose a clear, dry day and ensure the ladder is secure.

Avoid stretching to reach certain areas. Climb down, move the ladder over, and climb back up.

Avoid twisting and turning when removing debris or reaching for an item.

When in Doubt, Call a Roofing Professional

Call a roofing professional who has experience in installations, repairs, and ice dam removals.

They ensure expert execution, thorough inspections, and proper attention to detail.

This option is particularly useful if you're afraid of heights or want to ensure the job is done properly without overlooking any issues.

Careful Maintenance is Key

Careful maintenance is key when it comes to eavestroughs. Regular inspection, cleaning, and proactive repairs can help prevent early damage. They also ensure the optimal functioning of your eavestrough system.

Remember, we can't fight against the elements, but we can do our part in protecting our homes from potential issues caused by damaged eavestroughs.

Prioritizing eavestrough maintenance not only preserves the integrity of your property. But it also provides peace of mind during challenging weather conditions.

As always, if you don't know where to start, call a professional roofer for a thorough inspection. They can detect any issues within your residence to avoid any surprises. Finding issues early on saves you hundreds of dollars in the long run. 

Stay proactive, take necessary actions, and seek professional help when needed to maintain the effectiveness and longevity of your eavestrough system.

common problems with eavestroughs how to repair them
icicle damage
overflowing gutter
downspout repair