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Experts: Clear roofs

February 19, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Snow and ice are building up on your roof. You ask The House Doctor for help.

"Sell the house," he says.

He's kidding, of course. But there's no simple answer, except: Hire a professional.

James C. Murray - whose business is The House Doctor in Hagerstown - said Tuesday that he's had "quite a few calls" from worried home and business owners who want their roofs and gutters cleared.

A building owner in Boonsboro reported that a heavy snow buildup ripped his gutter entirely from its faceboard, Murray said.

"There's not too much a person can do with this," he said.

A building owner could try to get on the roof and rake snow off, but that's dangerous and it's tough to reach it all, he said.

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"Don't do it yourself," stressed Ken Melby, a project manager for Before and After, a Hagerstown contractor.

Professional workers have safety harnesses to anchor themselves on the roof, he said.

Murray said a building owner could use a stepladder to clear the low spots, but "it just delays things a bit."

With two of his four employees snowbound, Murray was backed up on his calls Tuesday, but said he expects to be out working today.

Building owners should particularly watch roofs with different elevations, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said in a news release.

Murray said residents should keep downspouts clear, too.

Melby suggested getting "ice dams" removed - again, by a professional.

Ice dams form at the edges of sloped roofs.

During the day, the ice melts, but at night, it freezes, Melby said. Snow melts, runs down the roof, hits the ice dams and runs back toward the house, under the shingles.

"It will creep and find its way into your home," Melby said.

If a building owner spots a leak in a snow-covered building, he or she should arrange to have the snow removed from that portion of the roof right away, Tissue said. That will allow water on the roof to drain properly.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency encouraged owners of buildings with flat roofs, which don't drain well, to clear them before the weather gets warmer.

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