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January 12, 2013

State warns of ice, snow roof damage

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — A state agency is urging homeowners to guard against ice damage to roofs during winter weather. 

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority warns that ice build-up and icicles hanging from the eaves can be a sign of an ice dam, which can cause roof leaks and energy loss during winter. 

According to NYSERDA, ice dams usually occur after a heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures. Warm air inside the home leaks into the attic and warms the underside of the roof, causing snow and ice on the roof to melt. The melted water drains along the roof to the cold overhang and refreezes, forming an ice dam and icicles. The ice dam enables the trapped water to get under the roof shingles, causing water to leak inside.

Ice dam problems are best addressed by a professional contractor, according to NYSERDA. The agency warns that homeowners who attempt to chip away at the ice can risk damaging the roof structure. 

To prevent ice dams, homeowners can seal air leaks in the attic to stop warm air leakage. Additional insulation in the attic can also help prevent ice dam building. Proper attic ventilation helps ensure that the underside of the roof and the outside air are the same temperature. Keeping gutters clean can also help prevent ice buildup. 

For information on NYSERDA’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program and a list of contractors, visit NYSERDA’s Residential Program pages (under “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Programs” at nyserda.gov).