Weather causing roof problems for many

Published 1:48 pm Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mother Nature’s hot to cold turns in the temperatures are causing more than just problems on the roads.

A thaw early last week followed by freezing conditions later in the week, and a variety of precipitation in between, has caused a variety of problems for local homeowners.

Icicles forming along the eaves might look a bit festive for the season, but can be the symptom of a much larger problem.

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Ice dams form when snow melts on a warm roof and then accumulates and freezes on the cold eaves. Water from the warm roof backs up behind it, causing water to flow under the shingles, through the roof, and possibly through the ceiling of a house.

Aron Attig of Attig’s Lawn Service offers roof shoveling to try and prevent this.

“The main problem is the ice buildup under the shingles that leaks into the house,” he said.

In addition, ice and snow buildup on a roof can cause structural damages.

Attig advised shoveling or sweeping the snow from your roof to prevent this buildup from forming in the first place.

He also recommended not trying to break up ice that’s already formed on the roof with a hammer or chisel, as this could ruin shingles, roofing and gutters.

As climbing on the roof can be quite dangerous — two separate incidents of people falling off roofs occurred in Albert Lea just last week — conversing with a professional may be a good option.

Attig said prevention during the off-season is probably the best solution. Adding insulation to attics and installing heat tapes that can be turned on when snow and ice start to build up on roofs were two measures he suggested.

Another problem being reported in local homes is with furnaces.

According to Dave Farnes of Christianson Plumbing & Heating, their associates have been called to several homes over the past week where furnace flow has been interrupted, causing furnaces to malfunction, or in some cases, stop working altogether.

“Hoar frost will form a screen inside the exhaust and plug it up,” he said.

Snow from drifting could also block vents.

If air flow is not getting to the furnace, the furnace will shut down.

“A lot of people are getting their roofs shoveled off and people don’t realize they’re dumping snow and covering the vents,” Farnes said.

Farnes said cracked heat exchangers causing furnaces to blow out carbon dioxide has caused emergency changeouts of furnaces in a few instances.

Burst water lines and leaks in water lines have been another problem the associates at Christianson’s have tended to.

Farnes suggested if leaving home for more than a couple of days, to have someone watch over your house as vents could plug up at any time from blowing and drifting snow, causing the furnace to break down.