Ice isn't nice: How to deal with your roof's ice dams

2:57 PM, Feb 12, 2011   |    comments
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But roofer Ken Romanini has been busy this week when the sun was shining.

"We had anywhere from 25 to 50 calls a day," said Romanini, owner of Ken's Parkhill Roofing Company. "It's all basically emergency work."

Romanini's crews have been working clearing ice dams.

And Chester Township resident Marilyn Allin said this winter has created some ice dam headaches like she's never seen before in the heart of the snowbelt.

"It's never been this bad," said Allin, while chipping away at three-foot icicles on the front of her home. "It's backing up underneath the eaves and coming in on the inside."

An ice dam is a sheet of ice that builds at the edge of a roof and gutters and stops melting snow (water) from draining.

With an ice dam during a quick thaw, pools of water can back up under shingles and leak through a roof, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to ceilings and walls.

Allin said that water has already seeped into two bedrooms and there is still about a foot of ice on the edge of her roof.

"When you look at the (bedroom) windows, you can see it coming down the wall," Allin said. "The wallpaper is coming loose. So that means major (drywall) repairs on the inside."

To prevent water damage from ice dams, a homeowner should first chip away icicles from the roof, then remove the snow from the roof. Hardware stores carry "roof rakes" for just that purpose.

After clearing at least three to four feet of snow from the roof's edge, Romanini said that the ice dam at the end of the roof needs to be opened so that the snow melt can drain.

Romanini's crews use pry bars and hammers to chisel a channel into the ice dam. He says homeowners should expect a little damage to shingles while clearing ice dams. But that damage could be a lot cheaper than the alternative.

"It's very simple," Romanini said. "That snow has to go somewhere. And when it melts, it's gotta go downhill."


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