From The Top Down
Prevent Ice dams from doing damage, then tackle the inside jobs
By Lisa Hutchurson Democrat
and Chronicle (February 3, 2007)
It's February, and the ice dams cometh.
Ice dams are formations of ice, usally along the edge of your roof. They're caused when melting snow runs down the roof and freezes at the edge. Over time, this ice accumulates and additional water backs up behind it. There's often nowhere else for the water to go but under the shingles or into the attic or eves.
The water can cause leaks, and the ice can rip off your gutters, says Bill DePriest, ovner of Father & Son Roofing, Gutter & Home Repair in Greece.
So it's a good idea to keep your roof clear. And the sooner the better, says Chad Lochman, owner of Countrywide Gutters in Rush.
"If you take care of it in the early stages, you'll save more money," says Lochman. "They're easier to maintain before they turn into ice dams."
Keeping snow off your roof can prevent further growth, says Fritz Gunther, owner of Gunther Home Inspections in Rochester. Roof rakes are a temporary fix, but because 60 percent of your heat loss is through the roof, says Gunther, the best approch is preventitive maintainance. So make sure your attic's insulation and ventilation are up to snuff. Now's a good time to do it, because you can earn a federal tax credit of up to $500 for the insulation improvements to your home (qualifing insulation purchases must be made between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2007, and the credit applies to income tax forms filed in 2007 or 2008.
For information on other energy improvement tax credits, go to www.emergystar.gov.
To prevent ice dams from growing, inspect the lower edges of your roof and look indoors below the trouble spots on the roof to make sure you have adequate, undamaged insulation and ventilation. Gunther will look at ice damming and tell you where the problem is and how to solve it for between $95 and $125. DePriest charges between $75 and $250 (depending on the size of the job) for ice removal.