Tips to Prevent Ice and Snow Damage

Verani Realty

ice on roofWinter seems to be fairly mild so far, but we New Englanders know it could become more intense any day now. That dreaded heavy snowfall or ice storm can become a brutal adversary that packs a powerful punch to your roof.

As a homeowner in New England, you probably had to shovel off your roof at some point during the 2015 snow season, and you most likely spent time battling the formation of heavy ice dams. But there are a few things you can do now, before the winter throws us too much snow and ice our way, and be better prepared to protect your home.

Ice is Your Enemy

Your favorite drink is great with ice, but your home, well, not so much. Ice dams can happen even if Mother Nature has only given us snow to contend with. How? Ice tends to form on your roof when snow remains on it for any length of time. Essentially, heat from your home escapes upwards to melt the snow and all that melting on the rooftop causes run-off.

Runoff is fine if indeed it is running off the roof. The problem occurs when the temperatures are cold enough to freeze the run off quickly, then it becomes ice on its way off the roof. You are left with a large band of ice all along the edge of your roof- known as an ice dam. This in-turn causes any additional runoff to back up and sit in front of the dam in a pool of slushy water. This is very bad for your roof because the water then makes its way underneath the roofing shingles. So this icy enemy has left you with roof damage, rot, leaks, and possible mold growth.

Heavy Snow is Your Foe

Snow also can damage your roof. It can either build up on your roof over a few big storms or, like last winter, we can get clobbered by two feet in one storm. Getting the bulk of that snow off of the roof is critical. The weight of it can cause your roof collapse, not to mention that it is snow that causes the melting runoff, which leads to ice dams.

So what can you do right now to prepare for what may come this winter?

  • Make certain you have, or go and buy, a roof rake. You should have one with good extension and is fairly lightweight. Trying to remove snow on your own is almost impossible to do safely (with no damage to you or your roof shingles) without the use of a quality roof rake.

  • Search until you find a qualified, professional roof-clearing service provider. It is best to search and find someone before you need them. If it gets to a point where you cannot handle the task yourself safely, you will need to call in a professional. Now is the time to choose that provider, so you can make an educated choice-not a rushed one. Ask people you know who they recommend, check the company’s credentials, and inquire about them with the better business bureau to see if they have any complaints filed against them. Make certain they are insured in case there is any unforeseen accidents or damage to your home.

  • For your battle with the ice dams, buy calcium chloride, basically a granular ice melt that you can purchase at most home improvement, department, and hardware stores. You can use it on your steps and walk ways to melt ice or prevent its formation, but it can also help your roof. It can damage shingles if applied directly, so for your roof you should hunt down some old pantyhose or socks and fill them with the granules. Tie them off and create like long door draft stoppers (tubes) that, when the time comes, you can simply place them along the edge of your roof, within six inches of the edge. This will prevent that water from backing up under your roofing shingles by preventing ice from forming in the first place.

  • For gutters, you can buy calcium chloride in the form of a puck, which you can place in your gutters to prevent them from filling with ice.

Snow and ice are an inescapable part of living in New England. But you can do few things to prepare yourself before they strike, and prevent some of the biggest threats to your home in terms of winter damage.

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