Pros give tips on roof ice

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:58 PM

Some of those people instead might need to pay closer attention to the ice building up on their roofs, according to local roofers.

“This is the worst ice damming on roofs that I’ve seen in 22 years in the business,” said Kris Werner, owner of Werner & Sons Roofing in Grand Haven.

The snow and cold without any thaw has caused a buildup on some roofs that might spell trouble as it warms up this week. Some area residents have already had problems without the warm-up.

“The roof deck warms up and the snow on the shingles melts,” Werner said, adding that it is more typical on an older home that doesn’t have proper ventilation or insulation. “It runs down the roof under the snow and gets to the overhang, where it’s 10-15 degrees and it freezes.”

Werner said he’s seen ice buildups of a foot or more. Standing behind those dams of ice could be 4-5 inches of water. The standing water eventually seeps through the shingles and nail holes, and runs into the house.

“We’ve had dozens and dozens of people with leaks,” Werner said. He’s also talked to at least four homeowners with collapsed ceilings.

Werner’s company recently responded to a Grand Haven Township home when the owner reported dozens of leaks in her dining room ceiling.

Peggy Reinicke and her daughter, Casey Brown, raced around the house that Saturday morning placing every pan, bowl and cup in the room to catch the drips. Once the roofing company removed the snow and ice, it stopped immediately, Reinicke said.

Inside, her dining room ceiling and walls were bubbled and peeling from the water that entered the home. Reinicke said once they checked to make sure the roof wasn’t damaged, they would open up the walls inside the house to see what had to be fixed.

Brown pointed to a vent area where one level of roof hung over another.

“That’s where a big icicle formed,” she said. “Everything built up around that.”

Matt Kohnke, who has worked for Werner & Sons for 15 years, said they are so busy right now that they are only removing snow from the edges of roofs. Normally, they would shovel snow from the entire roof, but that takes hours, he said.

“And there’s too many people with leaks that need help right away,” he added.Kohnke said if people are not able to remove ice from their home’s entire roof, then they should create channels and keep those channels open with an even distribution of roof salt. This allows water to run out from behind the ice dams, rather than draining into the house.

“The worst thing that people do is they buy the ice melt pucks,” Kohnke said. “When you have this much ice, all they do is cause big holes for water to stand in. It’s better to make the channels first,” and then use the pucks, he said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

What local roofers say a homeowner can do:

• Don’t go up on the roof

• Try to break channels in the ice every few feet, so water can drain

• Get close without damaging the roof

• Spread calcium chloride evenly across the opening

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