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Ice dams proving to be cold reality this winter

Link: Ice dams proving to be cold reality this winter
By: Raymond T. Rivard
Date: Mar 6, 2019

Removing ice dams isn’t cheap, but the consequences could be extensive

When you motor into your driveway and look up at the roof line of your home and see a thin line of blue peeking out from under the snow line, you have a problem –– an ice dam problem that probably isn’t going to go away anytime soon in the next two to three weeks.

You’ve seen the cascading icicles on many homes across the Twin Cities and state – yours might be one of them. It’s an annual occurrence that is brought on by large amounts of snow building up on home and business roofs, and melting from escaping warm air from inside the home.

The ice builds up on the roof’s edge, water gets trapped between the roof and the ice and will eventually make its way back inside homes in the form of leaks.

Ice Dam Guys

“Ice dams don’t stand a chance,” says the slogan on the steam machine while Jase Morris of the Ice Dam Guys® does his best to remove the dams that had built up on this Richeld home. (SUN CURRENT PHOTO BY RAYMOND T. RIVARD)

It’s a nightmare no home or business owner wants to face. The cost to repair the damage could be in the thousands. And there is only one solution – get rid of the snow and ice.

That, in itself, is costly, but it’s one of those “pay me now, or pay me later” situations.

Joe Palumbo, president of Ice Dam Guys®, one of several dedicated and reputable ice dam removal companies in the Twin Cities area, is a native Minnesotan who has expanded his business coverage across the northern tier of the United States and Alaska.

He talks about a vacation and lack of sleep at this time of year, but his passion for helping residents and businesses clear away the dangers of ice dams is also evident.

As of last week, his company had close to 30 technicians out working jobs, with all but three of them working in and around the Twin Cities area.

If anyone has attempted clearing ice dams from their home, they have found that it isn’t an easy job and not one for those who might not like ladders, roofs, and heights.

Last week, Jase Morris, one of the Ice Dam Guys® technicians who was working jobs in Richfield, was spending four hours on a roof when the Sun Current caught up with him. He couldn’t stop the job to chat, but during the time it took the reporter to snap a few photographs (about 15-20 minutes), Morris hadn’t gotten far – even with the state-of-the- art steam equipment he was using.

The first thing to do to keep ice dams on your home to a minimum is to remove as much of the built-up snow as possible. (SUN FOCUS STAFF PHOTO BY RAYMOND T. RIVARD)

It’s a difficult process that’s completed much of the time in subzero weather – temperatures that require a great deal of prep and cleanup time while arriving to and moving on to another job.

Palumbo described how the steam machine has to have antifreeze added when a job is done.

“When you are done and immediately within 60 seconds, you have to introduce automotive-grade antifreeze into the system – we circulate the antifreeze into the machine,” he said.

Once they get to the next job, they have to reverse that task and take the antifreeze out of the system before starting again. And that’s only one of the tasks needed to be done to make sure the job goes smoothly in freezing cold Minnesota weather. In other words, it’s not a job for amateurs.

As one of the reputable companies operating in the Twin Cities, Palumbo said that working with Minnesota residents and businesses is one of the perks of the job.

A ladder is a key tool used in getting up onto a roof if there is no roof rake available. Always be sure to have the ladder set up in a safe spot and to use extreme caution when utilizing it. (SUN CURRENT PHOTO BY RAYMOND T. RIVARD)

He described how homeowners, who may be stressed because of the need to get rid of the ice that could potentially cause problems for their home, are also, for the most part, very much “Minnesota nice.” He said many customers understand the conditions the technicians are working in and will offer them hot coffee and cookies to help remove some of the sting.

While Palumbo’s company is Minnesota-based and has a presence in all the northern-tier states, he said many of the technicians working in the Twin Cities actually come from the western part of the country.

Many are individuals who might work three seasons out West as guides or cowboys and are recruited to come to Minnesota because they have a strong work ethic and understand how to get things done in inclement weather, Palumbo said.

He also said that those seeking services should be careful about choosing the least expensive company. There are many companies that get into the business because they see the immediate need and feed on the desperation some customers may be experiencing. These companies also may undercut the cost of established companies, come in and do a less-than-satisfactory job and then leave the customer in a hurry.

Ice Dam Guys

The equipment needed to remove ice dams from homes is extensive. (SUN CURRENT PHOTO BY RAYMOND T. RIVARD)

Customers should not only check into the prices of services, but they should also consider companies that are bonded, have the correct equipment and understand that it’s important to complete work that does not damage the home’s roofing materials.

Palumbo also explained how homeowners and business owners can prevent getting into this situation.

The first is to religiously remove snow from roofs with a rake. That’s the simplest solution.

However, he also said that another way is to hire a contractor (in warmer weather) that can test the air pressure of the home and isolate areas where inside air is leaking. Addressing those leaks will go a long way in helping to stop ice dams from forming in January and February.

Now that it is early March and the Twin Cities are looking at an extended winter at least through the midpoint of this month, take the time to remove any accumulated snow from your roof and if there are dams that have formed and look like they might contribute to water damage inside the home, now is not the time to wait.

Palumbo said that it’s important for residents to do their research and homework on the issue and search for companies that are known for quality work.

As we slowly move toward spring, this season’s ice dam issues may soon be forgotten. But Palumbo said it’s important to address any leaking issues once the warmer temperatures arrive. Otherwise, homeowners will find themselves in the same situation come next January and February.

Ice Dam Guys

Jase Morris works to remove ice from this Richeld home. (SUN CURRENT PHOTO BY RAYMOND T. RIVARD)

If interested in seeking out the services of area ice dam removal companies, including the Ice Dam Guys®, search the internet.

As with all searches, research the companies that might be of interest.

Categories: Newspaper Interviews

Written by on March 8, 2019

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