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Dam-nation: Warm-up to worsen Minnesota ice dam season

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Ice dam season is about to get worse.

warming trend is expected at the end of the week, which could cause ice dams to form or worsen, experts say.

With daytime temperatures expected above 32 degrees by early next week, homeowners are looking anxiously at their eaves because ice dams develop when a roof repeatedly heats up during the day – melting snow – and then cools at night. Water from the melting snow runs down the warm part of the roof and freezes at the cooler part of the roof (typically where stubborn icicles grip the edge of a roof or overhang). Ice gradually builds up, preventing melting snow from draining off the roof.

The water that backs up behind the dam is what gives homeowners fits because it can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas, the University of Minnesota notes on an ice dams info page.

Ice dams, which usually occur at the end of winter, have been plaguing Minnesota roofs for weeks, according to KSTP. This winter, 57 inches of snow – the raw material for ice dams – has fallen in the Twin Cities, according to the Pioneer Press, which means roofs are loaded with ice-dam making moisture.

Ice dam removal companies are expecting significantly more business as temperatures heat up. Joe Kiesling, operations manager at Squeegee Squad of South St. Paul, has tripled his winter workforce to about 20 people, working seven days a week, due to the already-busy ice dam season, the Pioneer Press reports.

Most companies charge anywhere from $300 to $600 an hour to remove ice dams, which can take several hours. Ice dam removal businesses typically shovel snow off the roof and then use a steam machine, spraying out 302-degree water, to melt the ice dams, according to the newspaper.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Division of Energy Resources details how to prevent future ice dams.

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