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Defending against ice dam damage

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It's that time of year again when snow and ice buildup on rooftops can cause major water damage inside your home.

The recent snowfall and extreme temperature shifts create ideal conditions for ice dam formation. Earlier this month, temperatures in northern Minnesota fluctuated 50 degrees in one day.

During frigid temperatures, many homeowners cranked up the heat, sending warm air to the attic and melting snow on the roof.

The moisture then travels down to the roof's edge, away from the heat, where it freezes, creating an ice dam.

The dam prevents remaining water from going anywhere, leaving it to seep ceilings and wall cavities.

Image: The Ice Dam Company

For one St. Louis Park homeowner, water had come through her the walls and ceilings of her living room and son's bedroom.

"I kind of knew it was ice dams," Julie Berg told WCCO.

Other signs of an ice dam problem are peeling paint, stains around windows and doors and drooping drywall. Attic insulation may also become soggy, welcoming in mold and mildew. Large icicles grow on eaves of the roof, which can also cause damage to shingles and gutters.

Berg is certainly not alone.

The Ice Dam Removal Guys, a Minneapolis-based company, told the television station they've been putting in extra hours to meet the increase in business. The company uses steam to remove the ice buildup.

So, how can you prevent ice dams?

The Ice Dam Guys say clearing snow from your roof will help.

“The less snow that you have up there, the less melting that can take place, better off you are,” Ice dam remover Randy Schmit told WCCO.

According to a company blog, the Ice Dam Guys recommend purchasing a roof rake.

Schmit also suggests getting an energy audit to make sure heat isn't escaping through light fixtures, bathrooms fans or any other bypasses to the attic, making melting snow on the roof more likely.

Also, proper insulation will also keep the warm air inside.

“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,” Indianapolis roofer Tim Williams told WISH.

Reuben Saltzman, a Star Tribune's home improvement blogger, has several images of the most common attic air leaks, especially in older homes.

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