WNY homeowners warned to watch out for icicles

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Icicles are one of the more obvious signs of a tough Buffalo winter, and Western New Yorkers know to avoid them: if an icicle falls, it can cause serious injury or property damage.

For a homeowner, icicles are a sure sign the most serious harm could be what is happening inside the house: after a heavy snow, heat escapes through the roof, melts the snow, causing it to drip and ice up.

The ice buildup can also cause damage you don’t see, forming an “ice dam” under the roof, leading to water seeping into your house.

“Sometimes it leaks out of the soffit. Most of the time it leaks down an interior wall,” said Gary Dubel, a project estimator for Sahlem’s Roofing. “Sometimes you don’t even see that it is actually happening until your paint starts to bubble up, and then the drywall gets soft, and the next thing you know, a whole bunch of bad stuff happens.”

Dubel was supervising a crew that was safely removing an ice buildup from Clare Rosinski’s roof, in the Village of Hamburg.

An ice dam had formed under Clare’s roof, and the water is seeping inside her wall, and dripping from her kitchen ceiling, where pans are lined up to catch the drips. Dubel said, the solution for ice damming is installing an ice shield to keep the water out.

“The gutters come off, and we take our ice shield and wrap it down the face board so it seals off that little gap between the face board and the plywood.” After the plastic ice shield is put into place, Duel said the gutters are put back in place, and the roof edge is sealed.

Some roofs can be cleared of snow and ice by a do-it-yourselfer, or the formation of an ice dam can be treated with calcium chloride to slow it down. Dubel says it works much better than rock salt.

“Calcium chloride is safe for your roof. It won’t hurt your blacktop or concrete–whatever you have. It is the best thing to get the ice off your roof after the initial chipping is done.”

If you are going to tackle the icicles yourself, Gary Dubel warns against using sharp objects like a screwdriver, which can punch a hole in your roof or shingles.

Dubel added a torch should never be used to melt an ice buildup on a roof, under any circumstance. Using a torch will damage your home, or at worst, cause a fire.

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