3 Ways To Stop Freezing in Underground Gutter Extensions

Underground gutter extensions are incredibly helpful for any Minnesota home. They’re one of those rare cases where a fix to improve a home also makes it look nicer from the outside. Underground gutter extensions eliminate the unsightly gutter endings nearing sidewalks and driveways.  They also keep the area near the house free of water and leaking issues. Overall, they’re a great addition to any home. Unfortunately, we have winters in Minnesota and these water drainage systems can freeze. Here are 3 tips to help prevent freezing of those pipes. 

Tip #1: Pitch of Pipe and Type of Pipe

The first tip has to do with the initial installation of the underground gutter extension. Proper pitch in the drainage tubing is crucial. The tubing needs to have a 1/4″ of drop per foot of pipe. Our professional drainage installers measure as they go to ensure they’re getting the right pitch the entire length. When the tubing is pitched downward, the water can keep moving down the pipe and doesn’t collect in low/high areas. When water keeps moving, it doesn’t freeze as easily.

Another quick tip when installing the underground gutter extension tubing is to use lots of perforated pipe (once you’re away from the house) so the water can drain as it moves down the tube. Letting some of the water drain into the ground as it moves down the pipe keeps the total amount of water at the end lower which means less chance of freezing. Installing crushed rock underneath and around the tubing adds to the total capacity of system and allows more water to drain out as it goes down tube.

freezing underground gutter extension

Tip #2: Self-Regulating Heat Cable

Self-regulating/self-limiting heating cable, often called heat trace cable or heating tape, automatically adjusts heat output based on the surface temperature. Basically, it’s a safe way to keep a PVC tube warm throughout the winter. The wire changes it’s temperature based on the temperature surrounding the cable so it won’t overheat and will keep the water in the tubing from freezing. This wiring can be installed through the above ground gutter system and then down into the PVC tubing of the underground system. While this sounds like an absolutely perfect solution, it can be quite expensive to install and does take electricity to keep it running all winter. However, if keeping the tubing warm is an absolute must at all times, this is probably the best way to do it. You can read more about a specific brand of Self-Regulating Heat Cable here.

self-regulating heat coil

Tip #3: Disconnects

When designing the underground gutter extension system for a sump pump outlet, it’s super important to be able to disconnect that system if you need to. That’s why we do a system similar to the one shown below. The funnel allows all the water to be collected into the underground pipes but it is possible to disconnect the outlet and attach a hose in winter or for any other reason. If, for some reason, the tubing would get frozen, the homeowner could still allow their system to work 

Freezing Sump Pump Connectors

For new sod and sprinkler maintenance, we strongly suggest you consult with a trusted, experienced landscape designer who can help you get the most value for your money now and in the future.