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Take action against ice dams

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You may not know what ice dams are, but they cost homeowners millions of dollars each year.

Eric Chandler of Chandler Roofing says "Ice dams form when warmth from inside the home causes snow on the roof to melt and trickle to the roofs edge, where it refreezes, blocking gutters and drains. Since water cannot flow over the built-up ice, it seeps into the home under the shingles, often causing extensive damage to the roof decking and a home's interior - particularly ceilings, walls, carpets and flooring."

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Fortunately, there are things that you can do in the fall to protect your home.

If your home is susceptible to ice dams, the best time to take action is now.

During the early spring, insurers routinely see hundreds of claims caused by ice dams. An ounce of prevention during the warmer months can help keep things from snowballing out of control during the cooler ones.

Following are some tips to consider during the fall:

Keep all gutters and downspouts clear. Be sure sticks and debris are removed from your home downspouts and gutters. During the winter, periodically check their condition, removing any snow or icicles that accumulate.

Give your roof an overcoat. The most effective way to eliminate ice dams is to stop snowmelt by making the roof colder. This can be achieved by insulation the floor of the attic and under the roof and by blocking all crevices where warm air from the interior can rise into the attic.

Identify water entry points within the house. You may wish to contact a contractor to locate these entry points and take appropriate actions to create a waterproof barrier.

Once winter has arrived, there are still ways to prevent an ice dam or to minimize the effects if one has already occurred. After a snow fall, consider the following:

If possible, keep snow off the roof with a roof rake. Use a roof rake or push room to reduce the amount of snow that could melt. Do not climb on the roof to clear the snow as serious injury may result. Also, be cautious of electrical wires.

To melt ice, bring new life to an old set of legs. Placing old nylon stockings filled with snow melt over an ice dam is an effective way to melt the dam and channel water to run off.

In an emergency situation, where water is seeping into the house, notify a professional contractor at once. Although other temporary solutions do exist, it's a good idea to leave the work to a professional.

Tips

* Poor insulation is the major cause of ice damage during the winter months.

* The side of the house that faces the sun can also endure ice damage because the sun melts the snow during the day and refreezes at night.

* To find out what is causing the ice damage, see if the icicles are only on one side of the house, it is the sun, if the icicles are on both sides, then poor insulation is to blame.

* An ounce of prevention during the warmer months can go a long way.

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