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Ice Dams Becoming a Headache for Area Homeowners

The problems begin when melting snow refreezes on the edge of a roof.

All the recent snow in St. Louis Park and across the metro — combined with the recently warmer weather — is giving many homeowners the headache of dealing with ice dams.

Ice dams form when snow on top of a roof melts, trickles downward and then refreezes when it hits a colder roof edge.  As the ice continues to build up on a roof's edge, water pools up behind it and often leaks into a home. Ice dams are most likely to form when the temperature is in the low 20s for several days and several inches of snow are already on a roof.

State Farm Insurance reports handling about 350 ice dam claims in the Twin Cities in the past few weeks, with as many as 50 new claims coming in each day.

The agency recommends hiring a professional to handle ice dams, though homeowners can minimize the severity of ice dams by first using a "roof rake" to clear snow before damming begins. It is advised to not use salt or calcium chloride on roofs, as they can corrode gutters and downspouts, as well as damage nearby grass and plants.

Well-insulated attics also help prevent ice dams from forming. They can keep warm air from reaching the inside of the roof and melting rooftop snow.

For more on ice dams, see State Farm's website, or see this informative guide, which is an excerpt from How to Operate Your Home by Tom Feiza.

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