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Understanding the dangers of roof leaks and ice dams

The winters in Minnesota are predictably cruel and it's important to homeowners that their property is protected from the elements. One frequent issue that arises has to do with roof leaks and ice dams. Many are unaware as to what an ice dam is, how it happens, what to do about it and who is responsible for it. Gathering information as to what how the issue arises is the first step to dealing with it. In some instances, this occurs because of construction defects, so it's important to know how to pursue legal action against the contractor or builder for the mistakes that were made that caused the issue.

An ice dam is an ice ridge that is created on a roof's edge. This will prevent snow from melting and also stop it from draining from the roof. It can lead to leaks in the home causing wall, ceiling and insulation damage. There are weather factors in place that cause ice dams, and it depends on temperature variations from the roof to the rest of the house. There are strategies people can take to prevent ice dams. These include having a ceiling airtight to prevent moist, warm air from flowing to the attic of the home. Increased insulation can help to reduce the chances of ice dams from forming.

When a home is built, the contractor should adhere to or surpass the state codes for insulation levels on the ceiling or roof. There must also be a barrier to prevent the leaking of air to the attic. If the home has a skylight, recessed lights, a complex roof design or an attic with heating ducts, there is a greater chance of ice dams forming. Contractors who specialize in weatherization for the home are supposed to handle the construction problems that might cause ice dams. They use various tactics to determine if there is a problem with heat transfer.

After it has been determined that there is a flaw that lays the foundation for ice dams to form, it can cost money for the homeowner to fix it. If the problem arose due to defective construction materials or other construction defects, the homeowner may have the right to seek compensation for the mistakes.

Source: University of Minnesota Extension, "Ice dams," accessed Jan. 5, 2015

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