All eyes are peeled for giant icicles — a telltale sign that roof damage may occur in homes and businesses.
After a quiet winter so far, roofing contractors are gearing up to work overtime to fix an oncoming rush of leaks as precipitation mixes with spurts of deep freezes and warmer weather.
Ron Jacobson, owner of Raven Exteriors in Portage, anticipates homeowners will have to deal with more leaks and ice dams in the weeks to come.
Most years, Jacobson said his company takes two to three ice leak calls every day. This year, he’s received about three to four calls each week. He says the number of calls could quickly pick up.
“I’m kind of curious what’s going to happen in the next week or two if things keep warming up,” Jacobson said.
Several other contractors said they’ve received fewer calls in 2019 than they typically get by mid-February.
The exception is Maurice Delmore, owner of Kilbourn Improvement, in Wisconsin Dells. He’s taken about 30 calls in the last week or so, and he expects call loads to increase elsewhere.
Delmore said it varies every year, but a lot of melting snow and freezing at night has caused more leaks and ice dams recently.
An attic’s temperature must be consistent with the outside air, or rooftop snow can melt and then refreeze when it hits the eaves, building a dam and pushing more meltwater back up the roof. Shingles are designed to allow water to move down them, but will let backed up water get under them, where it can drip into the house.
It’s a problem that can lead to expensive repairs.
“You have to keep your heat in your home, not in your attic,” Jacobson said.
Installing ice and water shields, soffit vents and air chutes in gutters are other important steps to prevent dams and leaks.
Marvin Roelke, owner of Harmony Grove Home Improvements in Poynette, expects a higher frequency of ice dams and leaks to come in about a month as the weather gets warmer.
“It’s going to hit hard,” Roelke predicted.
Older homes and flat roofs can be more at risk of leaks and ice dams, because newer homes and shingled roofs generally have better insulation and ventilation.
When in doubt, homeowners should call for an inspection.
“With meltdowns, we’re back starting from scratch again,” said Steve Spaid, owner of Spaid Co. in Pardeeville. “One day is not going to be enough to melt the entire roof off.”
Spaid said homeowners should keep an eye on the connections between walls and ceilings for possible leaks.
Richard Preissel, who owns Long Life Roofing in Wisconsin Dells, said his crews just finished working on roof repairs at the Kalahari resort.
A recent 10-day subzero freeze along with less wet, heavy snow has been good for homeowners and businesses, he said.
“That was a godsend. It doesn’t drip when it’s 25 below,” Preissel said.
But he encourages all property owners to look up and ahead, watching out for signs of leaks in the coming days.
“It hasn’t been catastrophic, but things have melted out in between,” Preissel said. “It never leaks any other time of year.”