The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

February 17, 2014

Dark side of the thaw


Solving the problem takes some effort, but homeowners say it's worth it: Get the snow off the roof, so any melted snow can flow right off.

"They do make a roof rake," said O'Hara, "and we are sold out. But our warehouse did just get some in, and we'll have them [here] Friday."

A roof rake doesn't really look like a rake.

"It has a 21-foot connector handle, but it's real light," O'Hara said. "The [head] looks like a garden hoe, but it's 24 inches wide."

That, said Christner, can save you thousands of dollars in damage. There are more permanent solutions as well, he said.

"It is impossible to stop 100 percent of this effect on roofs but items that can significantly help are have a professional examine the insulation thickness in the attic (at min. you need 12 inches, he said) and pay close attention to where the attic truss or rafter meets the exterior walls," Christner said. "People overlook this area, but [that's] where a lot of heat from your home escapes and creates a perfect spot for ice damming to start forming."

There are other products, though they don't work unless put on correctly. One is a rubberized self-adhearing membrane. A good time to add that is when you're getting your roof redone, though there are ways to do it by removing some existing shingles.

For any roof, Christner's commercial roofing superintendent, Dan VanDevender advises his clients to get an annual checkup. Yet he also said snow and ice damages the flat roofs on many businesses in a different way from the sloped roofs on houses.

"The shear weight alone can cause splitting of the membrane, lap seams to open up, wall flashing and termination to pull away from the walls," he said. "When this happens water can enter the building as melting occurs."

— News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark

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