ST. CLOUD – The annual spring thaw is right around the corner – and with it, spring home maintenance.

Lately, Shane Zablocki, owner of Zablocki Roofing, says he’s been hearing from homeowners reporting leaks in their roofs – a byproduct of the dramatic fluctuations in temperature central Minnesota has experienced in recent weeks.

“But, (the roofs) are actually not leaking,” Zablocki explained. “What’s happening is, when we get a period with a real deep-freeze like we did, the moisture and the humidity in the house rises and gets into the attic and freezes. Then, all of a sudden you have frost in your attic. When it does get warm, that frost melts and then people see drips and stains on their sheetrock ceilings.”

Zablocki says there are a few simple ways to help prevent this kind of moisture build-up from occurring.

“When we’re going through these really cold spells, and these freeze-and-thaw cycles, keep the humidity down in your house,” Zablocki suggested. “Don’t put a humidifier in there or exhaust fans on when you shower.”

Zablocki says he hasn’t gotten as many calls so far to report ice dams – something he attributes to the type of winter the St. Cloud area experienced this year.

“If we have a winter with a good amount of snow, usually what happens is, through the heat and thaw cycles, the snow ends up melting and it creates an ice dam on the edge of the roof where it’s cold,” Zablocki explained. “At that point, water can intrude into the house because it has no way to leave the roof.”

Spotting an ice dam is fairly simple, Zablocki says.

“If a gutter is full of ice and it’s actually growing higher than the gutter, then that’s a good sign that there may be an ice dam,” he said. “Another thing is, if there’s snow on the roof, and they’re seeing spots that are melted and other spots with a lot of snow, that means they’re having heat loss, and that snow is melting and chances are it’s creating an ice dam.”

If left untreated, an ice dam can have serious and expensive consequences.

“It can actually damage the interior of the house,” Zablocki said. “Water can back up into the attic, get into the walls, and damage sheetrock and insulation. And, if it goes unnoticed for a while, it can actually create mold.”

Zablocki says a roof rake is a handy tool for taking care of minor snow build-up on a roof while standing on the ground, but more serious dams should be removed by a team of professionals.

“If it reaches the point where they need to go up on the roof, that’s when we say no, don’t do it – seek a professional,” Zablocki says. “We have all the right safety equipment to get up on the roof and safely remove snow and the ice dams.”

In any season, Zablocki reminds homeowners to be picky about who they hire to perform maintenance and repairs on their roofs, windows and siding.

"When you are out there searching for any type of contractor, take your time," he said. "Do your due diligence. Make sure that you're hiring a good, detail-oriented contractor. A lot of the things we end up redoing are things that could have lasted longer if they installations were done correctly the first time."

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