Frozen Our Own Magical Kingdom

  • Mike McCurry
  • 02/15/18
From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 15, 2018
This past week looked like a scene out of Disney’s Frozen, in which Queen Elsa turned the Western Suburbs of Chicago into an winter wonderland, and our homes into ice palaces. The streets and trees had a certain ocular aberration, through which the greys were washed clean by the snow, and the perception of depth became more defined. The trees and all of their branches became capped by the white dust, beautifly highlighting and creating an unusual three-dimensional contrast.
But all is not beautiful in this frozen little Kingdom.
It was actually the icicles that made me think of Elsa and her emotional outburst that created them. Like long stalactites refracting light while dripping down from our gutters and roofs, icicles are beautiful to the eye, but what lies under the surface could be just the tip of an iceberg of problems. These icicles are signs that the roof under the thick snow is warm, causing it to melt. Eventually, the gutters and eves can turn into a growing frozen lake under the snow, pushing its way up the roof until it finds a way into a warm home. This is called an “ice dam”.
These ice dams can cause major damage to the home. Once the ice finds its way into the roof or into the walls, it eventually melts and does damage to drywall, hardwood floors and basements. And when the weather warms up, it becomes a perfect storm for water damage. So, if you see big, thick icicles connecting with wood, coming through the soffits or onto the exterior walls, you should be concerned.
You may be wondering how this happens, and is there any way to prevent it? Ice damming simply happens when there is a lot of snow on your roof, the air temperatures are below freezing, and your roof is warmer than the snow which causes it to melt and turn into ice when hit by the cold. This is the gradual process by which warming and freezing water expands and climbs.
To prevent it is not as simple.
You can take the snow off of your roof when it is packed high, or make sure your roof temperature stays below freezing. Properly insulating and ventilating your roof with cold air is a good preventative measure. Many roofs have troublesome areas in which the  gutters come together in a valley. If the snow piles too high in these areas, it’s hard to prevent issues like ice damming from happening.
Most likely by today, we are experiencing the warmer weather coupled with a little rain, and the roofers phones are ringing off the hook.
The snow is now melting, and so is the ice underneath it. If there are any compromises in your roof system, it will eventually find a way into the home. Don’t delay call a trusted roofer today and get on their list.
A roofer will bring out the professional-grade snow rake to pull the thick snow from the problematic areas. They can remove the buildup of ice on the roof and gutters by using a number of methods, including steam and heat. They will put Ice Melt into socks and line them into the gutters to melt the ice, which will eventually get the water flowing into the gutters properly.
Don’t “let it go” – figure out why the big, thick icicles are screaming for attention. And remember, not all the icicles that Elsa created are bad, or become ice dams. The little ones are most likely perfectly fine and can be enjoyed for the beauty they bring. Enjoy the winter wonderland and ice palaces in our own magical town.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

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