Ray and the folks at Emergency Response Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning have some good tips about securing your plumbing for the long New England winters.  Did you know there is another set of “pipes” that should be evaluated and taken care of before each winter? It’s your gutters and downspouts. Properly functioning gutters and downspouts can make a big difference in whether or not your roof or basement leaks this winter–especially as spring approaches and the ice and snow begins to melt.

Here’s 4 tips to making sure your gutters are ready for winter.  *Warning–Gutter work can be dangerous. If you aren’t confident in doing this work yourself, please contact a local professional.*

#1.  Clean Your Gutters

It’s mid-December so at this point the vast majority of leaves have fallen.  Make sure your gutters are clean of all debris so that water can flow freely to the downspouts.  Most power washing or gutter cleaning companies only charge about $1 per gutter foot.  This is an inexpensive way to prepare your house for winter.

#2. Secure Gutters and Downspouts

Check if your gutters and downspouts are loose.  Last winter we had a record setting amount of ice and snow in New England.  Your gutters endured thousands of pounds of ice and snow last year, so if you haven’t checked their strength, chances are they are weaker than ever before.  Contact a professional handy-man to secure them and if necessary consider replacing your gutters.

#3. Consider De-icing Heat Coils

You’ve probably noticed these cable-like black lines on neighbors’ roofs.  Although they aren’t the most attractive feature, they are generally effective.  In many cases they can save you from problems with ice dams, and gutter damage.  Make sure they are installed both on the roof edge and in the gutters and downspouts and be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.  If you are not confident installing de-icing lines yourself, contact a local electrician or handy-man to do the work for you.

#4. Buy a Roof-Rake NOW!

A roof rake is another small investment that may prove quite handy this winter.  Last winter Roof Rakes sold out all over the northeast and were impossible to find.

Gutters that are ready for winter will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Countless homeowners deal with major roof issues because poor winter planning. Avoid the headaches and plan ahead!

Peter Martino is the Marketing Director for United Home Experts and Everlast Composite Siding of New England in Ashland, Massachusetts. United Home Experts is the largest and one of the most experienced siding contractors in Boston.