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Town Talk: Ice dam prevention

“https://s3.amazonaws.com/ogden_images/www.nujournal.com/images/2020/01/09141339/Jan-10-Derek-N-Preventing-Ice-Dams-615×500.jpg” alt=”” width=”615″ height=”500″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-703575″ />You are asking yourself, “Why would New Ulm Public Utilities be writing an article regarding ice dams?” Well, ice dams are more than an obvious indication that winter has arrived. Ice dams, as many people know or have personally experienced, can cause damage to home walls, ceilings and insulation, and lead to mold and mildew growth. Additionally, they are also an indication of home energy waste from an inefficient building.

So, what causes ice dams? Nonuniform roof surface temperatures lead to ice dams. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce and other respected resources, ice dams were once thought of as problems resulting with roofing and attic ventilation. But in actuality, ice dams are caused by the existence of warm, moist air in the attic, combined with the right weather conditions. They occur when heat is present in an attic and melts the underside of snow on a roof. The melting will eventually freeze when it meets a cold surface, resulting in an ice dam. This process of melting and freezing continues, creating larger ice dams and can eventually result in damaging shingles and allowing water to leak into a building.

So, how can ice dams be prevented, fixed, and how can the NUPU help with ice dams? If able, remove snow from your roof with a snow rake. Remember, safety is the most important factor and if using a ladder or climbing onto a roof is the only means to remove snow, consider hiring a professional snow remover to do the work. A few things a person should not do according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce:

• Do not install heating cables. They will shorten the life of your roof and add to your energy costs.

• Do not remove ice with chippers, chemicals or heat. These can damage shingles, gutters and other building components.

• Do not add roof vents, including power vents. They will not eliminate ice dams and often make the problem worse.

The NUPU can also assist with ice dam problems. An energy assessment or home energy audit is a first step to find out many issues regarding your home. A home energy audit, when conducted with an infrared camera and visual inspection, will help locate the air leaks within the house that are the culprit of ice dams. When air leaks are found they can be sealed, which will help reduce or eliminate the problem.

Home energy audits will also gather additional information on a home and its energy use. Last year, NUPU conducted home energy audits with the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment. NUPU is hoping to work with them again in 2020. If you are interest in a home energy audit, please feel free to contact the NUPU at 507-233-2110. Home energy audits are ideal for any home regardless if a home was built in 1920 or 2020.

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Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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