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FAQ

Dear Homeowners,

It is quite impossible to avoid the ever-changing winter conditions while living in Upstate New York. The majority of calls we receive in the winter are due to ice backup problems. Typically, if your roof does not have any issues in the heavy rainstorms and only leaks in winter time, it is most likely due to ice backup issues.

We have typed up and listed below some FAQs covering the most common questions we receive during the winter. Within this section, there are also a couple of maintenance tips to help you avoid these issues and help keep your roof in good shape. We strongly recommend following the guidance that we have prepared for you to help ensure the longevity of your roof. We at Michael C. Graham & Son Construction wish everyone a Happy Holiday and safe winter!

Best,
Michael C. Graham & Son Construction

There are many reasons. Ice backup protection is typically installed from the roof edge extending 3 to 6 feet up from the edge. We install it up to 9 feet. It is possible in some cases that water could be trapped above the protection. In addition, the roof flashings, where vertical walls meet the roof, extend only a few inches above the roof. Trapped water can be forced to enter the house through and above these flashings. Also, trapped water can enter the house through the woodwork below the roof edge. Ice backup protection can reduce the possibility of leaks but cannot eliminate leaks.

No. The leaks are caused by water trapped by ice, not by improper installation. Shingles are simply designed to shed water, not stop trapped water from entering your home.

Heat loss through the roof is the biggest variable. Some houses have extremely effective insulation and ventilation. Other houses, due to their design, are more difficult to insulate and ventilate. The complexity of the roof geometry is another variable. Unheated unattached garages typically never have ice backup problems because there is no heat escaping to melt the snow and the roof geometry is usually pretty simple.

Shingle roofs are designed to shed water, not hold water. Whenever water flow off the roof is obstructed, water will flow under the shingles and over flashings (the joints where the roof meets vertical walls) to create leaks.

Typically, snow is melted by heat escaping through the roof. The water refreezes at the overhang at the bottom of the roof because it is colder than the rest of the roof. What weather conditions create ice buildup? First of all, there must be snow on the roof. Secondly, the outside temperature must be below freezing. The longer snow is on the roof and the longer the temperature remains below freezing, the more likely it is that ice buildup and leakage will occur.

Make sure you have adequate attic insulation and ventilation. – Install ice backup protection under your shingles when you have a new roof installed. – For stubborn cases, install electric deicer cables.

This is a question for your homeowner’s insurance company. Typically, this expense is covered but you need to contact your insurance carrier for the details.

Pure and simple, gutters do not work in the winter. As soon as the gutters or the downspouts freeze, gutters stop working.

No! Weather conditions can cause the channels to refreeze. More snow can fall; the weather can remain below freezing. You may need to have the channels recut several days later if leaks reoccur.

**Call an insured roofing professional to free the trapped water. This can be very dangerous work.**

**If you cannot find a professional to do the work**

Here are some suggestions if you want to try to do it yourself:

-You do not need to remove all the ice. You do need to cut channels in the ice to allow trapped water to flow off the roof. Channels can be cut every 3 to 6 feet on a long eave or, with localized leaking, cut channels in the area near the leak or ice buildup. When cutting channels in the ice, make sure not to damage the shingles underneath. Do not use an axe or hatchet because they increase the possibility of cutting through your shingles.

-You can purchase heating cord to help create channels for water to escape. Again, if you cannot do this yourself or know anybody please call an insured professional to do so.

– Install ice melt compound above the ice dam and in the channels you have cut. We suggest potassium chloride because it is not as likely to damage shrubbery. Do not use rock salt since it is more likely to damage your live landscaping. You do not need to unfreeze your gutters. Let the water flow over the top of your frozen gutters.

– BE CAREFUL!