Snow, ice on roofs a wet and weighty concern

GLOVERSVILLE – Despite the warm weather expected in the local area over the next couple of days several local roofing companies and contractors are hard at work clearing the snow and ice from customers roofs, which can cause serious damage if it isn’t addressed.

The area has experienced nearly two feet of snow within two weeks, and homeowners across the Capital Region are facing an issue with snow and ice on their roof, especially if their home has insulation and ventilation problems.

The constant melting and freezing from both heat loss or warm weather and the transition to freezing temperatures at night can lead to ice dams along the eaves of roofs which can cause water to pool and get into the interior of the home.

Several local businesses that address this problem during the winter months said Wednesday they have received dozens of calls over the last few weeks, sometimes as many as six customers a day.

“These are the perfect conditions for ice damming,” said Scott Horton the owner of Correll Contracting. “Shingle roofs are designed to only shed water not to hold water so you actually get a pond on the edge of your roof.”

Horton explained the ice dams that form along the colder edges of the roof will cause water to build up on the incline, which lets water get underneath the shingles and into the home.

He said the most common cause of ice damming in homes is inadequate or improper insulation and ventilation.

Local roofing workers said people with homes that have sharply inclined roofs have a little more leeway with ice buildup because it takes about 6 inches to cause the water to pool while those with less inclined roofs can have a problem occur at about 2 inches along the edge.

“The snow has to come off because it gets under the shingles and the weight can cause even more damage,” said John Lucas Jr. who works on snow removal during the winter season. “There are a lot of houses and structures that just collapse because it can’t handle the weight. Then if it rains you’re really jammed because that snow just acts like a sponge and sucks up the water.”

Both said water getting into the home can cause major structural and health problems. Structurally, the persistent saturation of a roof can cause it to rot and weaken. While water reaching the inside of the home and remaining untreated can cause issues with mold, particularly within the walls where the water damage can’t be seen.

“The water inside the walls is a real health hazard because it can lead to mold,” Horton said.

A few signs there is a potential problem is ice along the siding of a home because it usually means the water has already reached the soffit of the roof and extremely large icicles, officials said.

While Lucas and Horton said residents should call a professional to handle the dangerous snow and ice removal they did provide several suggestions for those with manageable roofing situations- such as trailers or one story houses.

Both said those taking the ice down themselves should always do it with another person to avoid an accident occurring while alone. He also mentioned that people should avoid breaking the ice right down to the roof because that can cause some of the roof itself to come off.

“People shouldn’t take a hatchet to chop it off,” Horton said. “They almost always end up putting a hole in the roof, so use a snow rake.”

They also advised people to use a plastic shovel on the roof surface because scraping the shingles with metal can deteriorate them and cause damage.

“Getting the snow away from the edge of the roof will be the biggest help,” Horton said. “The more snow you get off the better because the snow is the fuel for the ice.”