Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

Depending on what part of the northern hemisphere you live, I hope you have already done the small maintenance tasks outside your home to prepare it for winter.

Have you turned off the water pipe providing water to the garden hose in the front and back of your home? If not, why not? It you don’t, and there is a particularly cold set of consecutive days where you live you could see the coldness of the outside air freeze the water in the pipes inside your home. This, of course, can lead to pipes bursting inside your house.

Have you disconnected the garden hose outside the house and brought it into your garage? Don’t let water freeze inside the garden hose to damage it, causing you to spend your hard earn money to buy another in the spring to replace it.

Have you checked for cracks in the caulking around windows, doors, etc. and replaced with new caulking to prevent air leakage?

Now, what about the downspouts for your gutters and eves troughs?

We’ve written previously about the replacement of all our gutters this summer, including over-sized downspouts and additional downspouts. This was done because of not one but two ice dam buildups causing leaks in our dining room last winter as well as constant gutter overflow from melting snow in the winter resulting in thick sheets of ice on the driveway right in front of our garage.

One of the improvements that was done as part of the gutter replacement was a gutter extension to have the water from rain and melting snow flow away from the side of our home.

downspout extension covered Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

Now, as part of preparing your home for the winter, remember to clear any long grass and debris from downspouts that do not go directly into underground pipes. This includes looking inside the end of a downspout extension and remove any accumulated grass, leaves, etc. If you don’t you are giving freezing run off water a place to collect and start to freeze, leading quickly to an ice dam.

downspout extension debris Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

In our situation, here is the long grass that I needed to clear using the whipper snipper. I should have done this each time I mowed the lawn … however I can be lazy every once in a while.

However, here is the other part of this.

What good will it do if I clear the long grass around this downspout extension? I mean, once snow comes any amount of accumulation more than a couple of inches will cover up the end of this downspout. This of course will cause water runoff from melting snow off of the roof to collect at the end of the downspout and, voila, we have an ice dam that will make it’s way back up. With several snow / ice storms mixed with sunny days, it will not take long for the ice dam to climb back all the way up onto the roof’s gutters.

So, what to do?

I had first thought of using a latch, similar to what we use to keep our French Door leading onto our deck in the back open in the summer. While this could work, I didn’t want to cut any holes into the downspout extension that over a few years could cause rust to start.

downspout extension 2 Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the approach I took. Yes, this was before I finished clearing the long grass and debris from the opening.

I had a couple of these utility hooks left over from the garage of the prior house. So, all I did was to screw one into the opening between two of the side garden’s retaining wall’s bricks. Of course, before doing this I simply checked that the position of the utility hook would be such that the downspout extension would still angle down to the ground to have the natural flow of water to flow down.

utility handle and downspout extension Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

Then I simply rested the downspout extension on top of the utility handle. This will now result in needing more than a few inches of snow to cover the end of the downspout extension; rather, we will need a good foot or more of snow before the end is covered in snow (it may not look like a foot, but trust me….the picture below was before I cleared the long grass directly underneath).  This height will be easier to keep snow accumulation away from the end of the extension, at least that’s the plan.

downspout extension raised Home Winterizing Reminders and Downspouts

Remember, I like simple and I like easy. Perhaps this simple and easy solution will work for you as well.

Tomorrow, we will discuss the results of our home energy conservation tip contest! Good Luck to everyone who entered!

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