Icicles may mean trouble for your roof

11:28 AM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WZZM) - The wintry weather is leading to some large icicles in parts of West Michigan.

Where some see beauty, roofer Jeremiah Victorson sees trouble.

"Poor ventilation or lack of insulation," says Victorson, who works for Melvin Belk Roofing.

When an attic is improperly insulated, heat escapes, warming up the roof and causing snow to melt.

"All of the snow will melt and go down to the very edge where there's no heated space here and will freeze," Victorson explains.

The ice can back up underneath the shingles, leading to leaks inside the home. So it makes sense people would want to scrape off the ice. But Victorson says that's the worst thing you can do, because it can create holes in your roof. Victorson recommends replacing the ice pick with a snow rake.

"Clear a little bit of snow off the roof, down to the ice," he advises.

Victorson says you should not pull the snow across the roof or you will run the risk of breaking off shingles.

"Then when you're done, hook behind the icicles and pull them forward," he said.

But if the icicles are too thick, it's time for plan B: ice melt tablets, which will eat away the larger icicles.

"They cost about $20 a bucket," said Victorson. "[You should] toss them up [onto the roof] like frisbees."

Victorson says his advice may sound simple, but his business gets a lot of calls for repairs after people use ice picks.

"You don't damage the shingles every time you do that but most times you do, so over a period of time of doing that, your roof looks like swiss cheese," he said.

Victorson says damage to an older roof will likely cost you $5,000 to $13,000. Newer roofs typically have an ice and water shield barrier to keep icicles from forming. However Victorson says if you damage the roof, fixing the top layer could set you back a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

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