Upcoming Thaw May Hurt Your Home

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — From roofs to pipes, winter weather can do a number on your home.

Drive around metro neighborhoods and you are bound to see ice dams; you may even have them on your roof.

“As the heat comes up through the home, it permeates through the insulation blanket and into the attic. Now you have warm air hitting the bottom of the sheeting. Once that starts to happen, the melting occurs up here,” said Rusty Pearson.

Pearson is the director of roofing at Wolf Construction in West Des Moines. He says a big thaw after a cold stretch can compound the problem, and if the water has no place to drain, it will seep through your shingles.

“Depending where the water comes into the attic, it can follow the drywall back and drip in four feet in the middle of the room and you don’t know why it’s dripping there,” he said.

So, what can you do? In the present, you have to clear enough ice so the water can drain. Pearson suggests either hiring someone to do it for you or get a spotter and carefully use a ladder and shovel to break sections of the ice off. In the spring, you can address the problem by increasing your insulation.

“As long as that heat can get up into that attic where that cold or that ice stuff is, or become ice, it’s going to melt,” he said.

Meanwhile, plumbers are busy fixing busted pipes, but they expect to be even busier once the pipes thaw and water is able to flow.

“It’s a good idea to shut it off if you know that you have had water not running in a certain area. That way, you don’t come home and find a bath in your basement,” said Paul Rohr with Holt Plumbing and Heating.

The advice for the next blast of cold weather? Open your sink or kitchen cabinets to allow warm air to hit the pipes and keep a trickle of water flowing. Copper pipes are more likely to crack when they freeze and expand past their breaking point.


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