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Snow, temperature shifts putting pressure on roofs

– Clyde Simerman wasn’t sure whether he was in Fort Wayne or Antarctica.

“We were called to a home and I’m telling you the ice must have been about 12 to 14 inches thick on the roof. It looked like a glacier,” said Simerman, a general manager for Dahm Bros. Inc., 2009 Lakeview Drive, a commercial and residential roofing business. “We were at an industrial building and the snow had drifted to form a 15-foot drift. That’s a lot of snow on a roof.”

So goes the winter of 2014.

On Tuesday, Glenbrook Square saw a section of its roof give way outside of Sears. The mall remained open for business. Local roofing industry officials aren’t surprised. Between this winter’s arctic temperatures and uncommonly high snowfall, something had to give – and right now it’s the roofs.

“Usually, it will snow and then it’s gone within a week or so,” Simerman said. “This year, the snow has just kept coming, and the temperatures haven’t really warmed up to make the ice go away either. There’s a lot of buildup.”

What can we do?

Not much. Area roofers say if a fresh blanket of snow arrives, residents living in ranch homes or two-story homes may use rakes to relieve some of the weight. Businesses – depending on how tall their buildings are – can call a roofing company.

“We take wheel barrels up, fill them and empty them into a lift truck below,” said Phil Miller, vice president of CMS Roofing Inc., 3920 Butler Road. “Besides the snowfall, the winds have caused a lot of drifting.”

That has made for some lopsided snow piles on roofs and other places.

“We don’t have winters like this, so people aren’t prepared for it,” Miller said. “If it rains, it’s going to be a mess.”

Well, the National Weather Service is calling for rain on Thursday.

Simerman said residents have been getting a lot of leaking from outside gutters caked with ice.

“It leaks around to where the ceiling meets the outside wall,” he said. “What you have is lot of freezing and then refreezing.”

On Tuesday, Kevin O’Connor said his company was called to a residence where the garage roof collapsed.

“It’s like ice dams out there,” said the owner of Miracle Contracting Inc., 507 Constance Ave. “Usually you can check out a roof when the weather’s decent, but you can’t do that right now.”

And just when it seems we have a break, another batch of snow comes. “A lot of people are dealing with this,” O’Connor said. “I can’t remember the last time we’ve had this much snow in one season.”