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Advice on dealing with ice dams

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Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers advice to homeowners on how to protect their homes from ice dams.

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Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof, preventing melting snow from draining off the roof. That water can then leak into homes, damaging walls, ceilings and insulation.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Agency, summer is the best time to prevent ice dams by increasing the ceiling insulation to cut down on heat loss, making ceilings airtight and/or adding natural roof ventilation. Plugging leaks and adding insulation can reduce energy use in homes by 20 to 30 percent.

For homeowners who may soon be contending with ice dams or those who are looking to avoid their formation, a snow rake can be used to remove excess snow from the roof.

However, even if care is taken, roofing materials may be damaged in the process. It is not advisable to get up on the roof to remove snow. Many people are injured each year trying to deal with this problem on their own.

Before hiring a company to deal with ice dams on the roof, here are some things to do first:

● Check out the company’s record with the BBB at bbb.org or by calling 1-800-646-6222.

● Make sure the company has insurance and their workers are covered under workers’ compensation.

● Get estimates from multiple companies.

● Ask how much experience each company has working on roofs and ice dams, as well as what techniques they’ll be using to remove the ice dams. Less intrusive techniques may reduce potential damage to roofing.

● Watch out for deals that are “too good to be true.”

For more information on ice dams, how they’re formed and how to avoid them, visit extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/00056.html.

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