Damn those Dams! | Urban Living
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Damn those Dams!



One reason I live in Utah is because our landscapes from border to border are freakin' gorgeous. I also love, love, love the snow and cold temperatures. The more snow, the better. And we are having a record-breaking year, which means I'm happy as hell. But I'm also afraid for many homeowners, renters and landlords because the snow and cold are quiet threats that can cost them mucho dinero when it warms up.

Driving around the capital city, I can see who has upgraded their attic insulation by the amount of snow sitting on their roofs. If your home is properly insulated, the heat shouldn't be escaping and melting the snow. Insulation is a really inexpensive but valuable upgrade. It's also a financially and environmentally conscious one because you will use less energy to heat or cool your home.

Property owners should also keep an eye out for icicles. They might look beautiful hanging from the roofs of homes around your neighborhood, but they are an indication of potential big problems down the road. I hope they aren't hanging from yours because it can mean the water on your roof isn't draining properly and is probably stuck at the edge of your rain gutters, forming what's called an ice dam. These ridges of ice can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas when temperatures warm up. As the ice melts, that water will back up behind the ridge and gravity will take over.

Over the years, I've seen these ice dams do some pretty awful damage—from ceiling bubbles the size of bathtubs to waterfalls running from the top floor to the basement of a Victorian home. Heaven forbid you return from a trip to find your ceiling has collapsed and your furniture, rugs, TV, gaming system and such are toast.

How do you avoid ice dams? The key is to keep your roof cold. I suggest you hire an energy auditor to read your home or simply figure out where heat loss is happening in your attic so you can fix the leaks. Ask a professional roofer or contractor about adding vents, or install heat cables in a zigzag pattern along the roof's edge and inside a gutter or downspout to melt that ice. Damn those dams!