Ice dams on roofs of homes can cause thousands of dollars in damage

It looks like you can put your snow shovel away for a few days. But there's another winter headache you still need to worry about -- ice.

All that snow is causing ice dams to form on the rooftops of many Chicago area homes, and that can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Jesse Lofgren is pretty much living on his 28-foot-tall ladder during this little ice age. We found him Monday in the South Side Beverly neighborhood, climbing the side of a tall two story home that's turned into a giant ice castle.

"Well the amount of snow that we had all at once blanketed the roofs. The melting and freezing over a short period of time created a lot of ice,” said Lofgren, owner of Absolutely Clean Window Washing.     

That's no exaggeration. we found homes coated in icicles, some as thick as tree trunks.

And though it does make for a pretty winter picture, it can also cause big problems -- ice dams which force water to pool on the roof.

"It doesn't allow the water to drain into the gutters or off the roof as it should. And so the roof is essentially holding water on it. And then the water finds a way underneath the shingles and into your home,” Lofgren said.

And that can cause thousands of dollars in water damage inside and outside the home.

Lofgren's company is performing emergency triage, using long rakes to pull the snow off rooftops or in more extreme cases, using a specialized steam tool to melt the ice dam.

Now just because there are icicles hanging off your roof line--and what house doesn't have them right now--doesn't mean you necessarily have a problem.

What you need to watch for is ice forming on the outside wall, or squeezing out between the wall and the gutters.

"If you see icicles or water dripping in areas water should not normally be, then you know you have a problem and you have water standing on your roof behind the ice dam,” Lofgren said.

And he says with temperatures expected to warm up mid-week, and a chance of rain, the snowmelt is only going to get worse.

Lofgren warns you shouldn't use a power washer to spray the ice off your roof as that can cause major damage to the roof tiles.

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