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Clearing Roof of Snow, Ice Not so Simple

February 10, 2009 - WATERVILLE -- It's smart this time of year to make sure your roof is clear of heavy ice and snow, as more storms are no doubt on the way.

Such buildup can cause all sorts of problems, including collapsing roofs or ice forming under shingles and melting, sending water into buildings.

Roofing professionals say they are working overtime clearing roofs of ice and snow.

"We've been busy with snow removal for eight days straight," said Keith Ladner, owner of Kasie-Jo Inc., based in Readfield. "We have 15 guys working and they haven't had a day off. They're getting pretty tired."

Ladner said temperatures Friday and Saturday are expected to be around 40 degrees and if people have snow and ice on their roofs, it should be removed.

"If you haven't had your roof cleared and you've got a lot of ice on it, you'll have big trouble," he said. "The water's going to start to melt and back right up under your roofing and the only place it'll go is inside."

But people not skilled in snow and ice removal should not attempt to climb up onto a roof, say Ladner and Maurice Cormier, president of D.H. Pinnette & Sons Inc., based in Oakland.

What may look like only snow may actually be snow-covered ice, they say.

"People really don't know what they're stepping on," Cormier said. "They go up and see the snow and think that's all it is -- snow. Just the snow alone, when you step on it, it avalanches. They should think about hiring somebody who does roofs for a living."

There are some things a homeowner can do to alleviate buildup problems, like using a roof rake -- a long-handled tool you can buy at a hardware store for about $45 or $50. Standing on the ground, you can clear the roof about three feet up from the edge, Cormier says. Ladner says one can then use a ladder to put calcium -- not rock salt -- on the ice at the edge of the roof.

"The best time to do it is first thing in the morning because the sun during the day will help it along twice as fast," he said.

Gutters are a problem in winter because they hold back snow from falling off the roof and ice builds up on the roof, Cormier said.

"They're nice to have in the spring and they're nice to have when it's raining, but in the winter, they cause a backup," he said.

Both Cormier and Ladner caution homeowners about people who go door-to-door asking to shovel off roofs, as many are not insured and if they become injured, the homeowner is liable.

Ask to see their insurance papers and better yet, call their insurance company to make sure they are insured, Ladner says. If they do not have insurance, don't hire them.

"Stay away from them," Ladner says. "They're not insured, they're not experienced. If somebody gets hurt, they're asking for a big lawsuit."

Ladner, whose territory includes the Waterville, Augusta, Lewiston and Auburn areas, says people should not go onto a roof without a harness. Falling off a roof is needless, he said.

"I know money's tight, but it's not worth your life or broken bones or your work," he said.

"If you're hurt, you can't go to work. Then where is your money going to come from? Get it done by a professional."

One should never use a sledgehammer or ax to break up ice or snow on a roof, according to Cormier.

"A good roofer wouldn't use an ax or a sledge hammer," he said.

BY AMY CALDER
Staff Writer, Kennebec Journal, 02/05/2009


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