Roof “ice dams” can cause water from snow to seep into your home

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

(WPRI) — More snow on the way could mean big troubles down the road for our roofs.

If you have icicles already hanging from the eaves, beware. They may look pretty, but it’s really a sign something bad is going on under your roof.

“This gutter is actually pushed away from the structure,” notes Tim Williams, the owner of a local construction company. He’s expecting to get busier in the coming days: “The phones start ringing in the office, and people want you to come out and get rid of the ice that’s on their roof.”

While it might seem like a good idea to chip away at the ice or remove the snow to keep a leak from happening, roofers disagree.

“The first thing that you DON’T want to do is begin taking a hammer, or a shovel, or anything to your roof,” says Tim. It can damage the gutters or shingles, and create more problems in the long run.

Your best bet against “ice dams” is prevention: “You want the temperature in the attic to be the same as the outdoor temperature,” he said. “You want to get it where it’s adequate, and make sure the heat cannot get to the roof line and melt the snow.”

Because, after the snow melts, it will quickly freeze in gutters. The ice then expands under the shingles and into your home.

“If you get a fresh snow and you look on a roof line and everybody’s houses around has snow on the roof, and yours doesn’t, that’s an indicator that there’s improper insulation.”

Another warning: If you have a warranty with a roofing company, it’s not likely to cover damage from ice dams. Williams says it’s considered just like any other weather event, including a flood or tornado.

You’ll need to contact your insurance company, who will then contract with a roofer to help fix the damage.

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