Ice dams can be prevented

ice_dam_massachusettsBY HANNAH STRONG

Roof ice dams create an annual winter headache for many Minnesotans. When serious enough, ice dams cause water to leak through shingles, resulting in costly interior damage. However, with the proper know-how ice dams can often be prevented before they start.
According to Patrick Huelman, coordinator of the Cold Climate Housing Program at the University of Minnesota, three factors must be present to create ice dams. First, there must be adequate snow cover on your roof. Second, outside temperatures must be below freezing. Third, conditions must allow snow to melt on your roof and refreeze as ice on your soffits.
Ice dams usually occur when your home’s heated and unheated spaces are not sealed effectively from one other. Warm air leaking from living spaces into unheated spaces under your roof can cause snow to melt. Eventually the melted snow reaches the roof eves, which typically remain below freezing. This causes the snow melt to re-freeze at the eve, creating an ice buildup. This ice buildup acts as a dam to subsequent snow melt, which can cause water to back up under shingles and leak through the roof.
If you have ever found yourself in this situation you’ve probably called someone like Joe Palumbo, president of IceDamGuys. Palumbo has been in the ice dam removal business for 18 years, and expects to visit 500 homes this   season.
Recognizing that ice dam removal and repair is costly (the IceDamGuy’s hourly rate is $375 with a two hour minimum), Huelman and Palumbo both agree that prevention is key when dealing with ice dams. They recommend getting a home energy evaluation to ensure that your home is properly insulated and air sealed.  If it’s not, your home is losing heat and you are paying much more to heat your home than you need to, while also running the risk of getting ice dams.
Home Energy Squad Enhanced visits are a home energy evaluation offered in Minneapolis. The program is provided by CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy in partnership with the nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment (CEE). At the home energy visit, two energy consultants visit your home to help you identify ways to save energy. During the two hour consultation, diagnostic tests are completed, which include an insulation inspection and a blower door test to measure your home for air leaks. These tests are essential to learning how to help prevent ice dams. The cost for the visit to Minneapolis residents varies from $30 to $70 depending on your neighborhood, as several neighborhood associations are supporting the program and helping buy down the cost for residents. Contact Hannah Strong, at [email protected] or 612-335-5828, to find out pricing in your neighborhood.
At the end of your visit the energy consultants go over their recommendations for increased energy efficiency in your home, and provide you with an Energy Fitness Plan. To help accomplish recommended home improvement projects, the visit qualifies participants to receive low interest energy financing from the Center for Energy and Environment’s Lending Center.

For more information or to schedule a Home Energy Squad Enhanced visit call Beth at 612-335-5874 or visit

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