MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It could be any house on any street, but when you see the massive icicles clinging to the roof you instantly recognize one of winter’s cruelest tricks – the damaging and unsightly ice dam has returned to Minnesota homes.
“That’s just why it’s starting to pop up now because we just started to get snow,” said Steve Kuhl, a contractor.
Winter is when Kuhl undoes the damage being caused by ice dams. On ladders, his crews will use 300-degree steam to melt away potential trouble.
“We’ve had people use pickaxes, hammers, chainsaws and all sorts of things. In fact, our roofing division fixes some of that damage every year,” Kuhl said.
Kuhl says steam is the only reliable and safe method to rid a home of ice dams.
Homes with poor insulation and ventilation lose tremendous amounts of heat through the attic. That, in turn, causes snow on the roof surface to melt and trickle down.
When that meltwater reaches the unheated eves along the gutters, it freezes and forms a dam. Any subsequent melting will often sink underneath the shingles and into a ceiling.
“Anything ice melt-related, we can’t keep it in stock,” says Jim Hudson, owner of Hudson Hardware in south Minneapolis.
Products such as heating cables and ice melt are in short supply due to the demand brought on by the cold and snow. In fact, he has just one roof rake remaining in stock.
“That’s probably the best thing they can do if you’re getting ice dams because if you get rid of all the snow, then the ice dam itself is not going to be a problem,” Hudson said.
So professionals advise homeowners to get outside and give your roof a glance. If icicles cling to the eves, it’s time for action before that dam up top becomes a flood inside.
For more information on identifying and dealing with ice dams, click here.