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We've encountered lots of ice damming in the the Chicago area. I agree with you, don't go on the roof now, it's too dangerous. Attic/roof ventilation and insulation are key factors in the creation of ice dams. If you're experiencing active leaking into your home now I'd consider using a snow rake w extension pole( while standing on the ground) to pull the snow off the leaking ice dam area. This might slow down the leaking by exposing the snow/ice melt area and decreasign the amount of snow melt contributing to the ice build up.
When spring comes, and it will! Consider installing a quality gutter/downspout snow/ice melt system in the problem areas. We've used the engineered systems made by WarmlyYour's http://www.warmlyyours.com/en-US/snow-melting/roof-deicing to solve ice dam problems for many of our clients. See the attached photo of a client's home in Wilmette, Illinois 60091 with a snow melt system actively working.
Once again- stay off the roof !
You may be asking yourself, “What can I expect my roof to look like as this aging
process takes place?” One or more of the following conditions may occur over time:
Curling: As the asphalt hardens over time, the granules which were once securely
embedded begin to break away. Occasionally you may have seen the colored
granules in your gutters. Also, as this hardening advances, the asphalt layers begin
to shrink. Of course, all of this is occurring at a microscopic level and is not
something which will be noticeable on a daily basis. As the asphalt layer shrinks,
it is being countered by the shingle reinforcement, which resists shrinking. We
now have a situation in which the top and bottom coatings are shrinking and the
reinforcement is remaining stable. As a result, the edges of the shingle may begin
to curl over time. In addition, organic shingles may exhibit signs of curling which
might be considered excessive, however, this is not a manufacturing defect and
would be considered part of the normal weathering process of organic shingles.
Surface Cracking: Another manifestation of the normal aging process may
be the development of surface cracks. For example, as the flexibilizing oils of the
asphalt are depleted due to heat, the shingle becomes more brittle, to the point
where surface cracking may appear. The stresses created by thermal shock and
the movement of the roof deck also increase the likelihood of surface cracking.
Blisters: During the course of natural weathering, small bubble-like raised
areas known as blisters may appear on the surface of the shingles. The blisters
may be small and pea-sized or as large as a quarter. The blisters may be open,
exposing the asphalt, or closed. Blisters frequently result when minimum ventilation
requirements are not met.
Staining: Finally, over a period of time, shingles may develop dark brown or
black streaks that are sometimes mistaken for soot, dirt, moss or tree droppings.
In actuality, this discoloration may be caused by algae growth. Although most
roofing systems are susceptible to algae discoloration, it is most readily visible
on white or light-colored shingles.
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