Living in Northeast Ohio, in what is referred to as the “snow belt,” we have to be resourceful when it comes to dealing with the inclement weather that mother nature doles out to us, typically by the truckload. The weather here varies quite a bit throughout the year. In the summer we can have tornadoes, and in the winter we have plenty of snow and ice to deal with. Some days it makes me wonder why on earth anyone moved up north in the first place. We have firmly established ourselves as the type which are hearty enough to put up with about four months a year of cold and wet weather, and we wear that distinction like a badge. A hundred and forty inches of snow in a season is fairly typical, so if you are not on top of things like ice on the gutters, then you may end up with damaged property.
One of the things we have to deal with during the winter season is an ever growing mountain of snow on our roof. This generates an amazing amount of ice hanging down from the eaves and gutters as the snow melts. These ice issues can be reduced by installing electric ice melting cables, and this can help keep things from causing too much damage when the ice does thaw and freeze as day time temperatures rise and then falls back below freezing at night.
One of the biggest problems with any freeze and thaw cycle is the phenomenon on your roof called ice dams.
These are created when the snow is melting down the roof and at the roof edge or eave it freezes and blocks the flow of water that comes down when the snow and ice above it melts. This water can work its way back up the roof and will find its way beneath the next row of shingles up behind the ice dam. This water can cause flooded basements, can damage walls, and will even get into electrical circuits through switch and outlet boxes mounted in outside facing walls.
One of the simplest things a homeowner can do is to have the ice melting heat cables installed. Another thing to consider is having newer more modern ice dam prevention materials installed on your roof. The last roof I worked on had a three foot wide ice dam membrane that went down before the shingles. This roll of material looked like exotic tar paper, and it has a sticky side that goes down on the bare wood of the roof. Tar paper is then laid across it with shingles to follow. This membrane goes further up the roof than typical water flow from an ice dam can travel.
Many of us have a large metal rake which is designed just for removing snow from the edges of our roofs. This can be a dangerous task since accessing the roof may require a ladder. Some people who are more adventurous will even get up on the roof to push the snow off, but I feel that this method is just tempting fate to kick you in the backside. Try to stay on the ground to do this work, or at least use the most sturdy ladder you have with a trusted friend holding it so that you do not get hurt. Statistically falls from three to six feet are much more common and more dangerous than falls from greater heights. If you do the math, falling from a height above your own height will cause you to run the risk of falling on your head and breaking your neck or back.
Having been paid to climb towers and smokestacks in a former life, I know exactly how to be safe when it comes to heights, but the home roof can be more dangerous than any industrial environment. This is one of those “it seemed safe to me” kind of places which can get people in big trouble. There is nothing wrong with calling in a professional when something dangerous is beyond our capabilities.
Personally I am a firm believer in the standard heat wire that keeps the edge of your roof clear. These really do only cost pennies a day to operate since their wattage is fairly low when compared to other high electricity usage devices in the average home. Think of it this way, a standard wattage cable can cost you about half a dollar a day at current electric rates here in northeast Ohio. So be safe and also be smart, use technology to foil mother nature and her sneaky tricks!
Thank you for reading my articles, and please let me know if I can help you with your next project.