When the snow season hits the Better Contractors Bureau will be receiving many calls from people complaining about leaking roofs. Most are not aware of what causes leaks in the winter and usually attribute it to a poor new roof installation.

"Unfortunately, we have to tell people that the problem they are having is usually not due to an improper roofing installation, but rather from improper ventilation and insulation in their attics," says Carmen Santora, Executive Director of the Better Contractors Bureau.

Heat loss is one of the major causes of ice back-up and snow damming. When attics are not insulated properly and there are either not enough or no roof vents or soffit vents, heat will heat the ceilings causing the attic to warm up allowing the heat to travel up the roof and the combination of heat and snow causes ice to form. Gutters eventually become clogged with ice, forcing water farther up the roof edges. After the ice backup goes beyond the ice and water shield (usually 3' from the roof edge) the ice starts to melt and leaks inside the house.

Consumers experiencing ice back-up or snow damming should first hire an experienced contractor who is insured to remove the ice or snow from the gutters and roof edges and then have the problem addressed properly when weather permits. He recommends having an experienced roofing contractor install ice and water shield at least six feet up from the exterior wall edge and in all valleys. He does not recommend just putting a new roof over the old one, as there will be no proper way to install the ice and water shield as recommended, as it should be directly cemented down to the roof sheathing.

Before any new roof work is done proper insulation and venting should be addressed, as if not ice damming will continue. For roofing contractors experienced in ice damming prevention call the BCB at 338-3600 or go to the BCB website at www.the-bcb.net.