Professionals don’t agree on whether you can rely on home remedies such as pouring salt on the ice or filling a stocking with salt and placing it on top of the downspout so it slowly melts the ice. “That’s a low-performing method that might clear the gutter, but not the downspout,” Miller says. “All that water has to go somewhere, and it usually refreezes and builds back up again.”
Gutter cleaners say a little prevention goes a long way to save you from frozen folly.
“The best thing to do is make sure your system is cleaned regularly every six months,” says Brad Ladner, owner of Atlanta’s Best Gutter Cleaners in Roswell, Georgia. “The reason for the weight of ice is that debris in the downspout is getting wet, then freezing and adding unnecessary weight. If the downspout is clear, then water will fall right through and won’t freeze. Thawing won’t be possible because the gutters will hold in the cold, the same way wrapping soda in an aluminum can does.”
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Whoever you hire, whether to clear out the ice or keep it from coming back, make sure they carry the proper licensing required in your jurisdiction and verify that they carry liability and workers compensation insurance.
“A lot of fly-by-night companies are out there doing roofing and gutter work, and they’ll tell people they’re insured when they’re not,” Lochman says. “Make sure they have all the right insurance, because if someone’s injured by a ladder or a hot steam device and they’re not insured, they’ll go after the homeowner.”
Have you ever dealt with frozen gutters? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on Feb. 17, 2014.