The snow from February’s historic winter storm is melting away across Central Oregon. Left in its wake are hundreds of homeowners dealing with the leaks and damage caused from the record snowfall.
Home repair companies are responding to an influx of calls to address ice dams, fallen tree branches on roofs and damaged heating systems.
The around-the-clock work is reminding the companies of the destruction from the major snowfall during the winter of 2016-17.
Retired Bend resident Judy Miller said she was fortunate two years ago when her townhouse in the NorthWest Crossing neighborhood withstood the relentless snowfall. But this year is a different story, she said.
Last week, Miller discovered water pooling in the corners of her hardwood and carpeted floors.
The moisture was caused by ice dams on her roof melting and dripping through the walls, and water collecting in the corners of the floors. Ice dams form on the eaves of sloped roofs when the heat from the building melts snow under the snow pack and it freezes on the eaves.
“I am so exhausted,” Miller said. “This has been a forced remodel with sheet rock being removed and floors being sanded down and refinished.”
Miller is staying in the upstairs of her townhouse, while a crew from Servicemaster Restore is running dehumidifiers on the first floor to dry the moisture out of the home.
“I’m as uncomfortable as I have been in my life,” she said.
Justin Turgel, mitigation manager for Central Oregon Disaster Restoration, said his company has received more than 200 calls for snow-related damage this year. It is a fraction of the more than 500 calls the company had in January 2017. But 200 calls is a large workload at one time for the company, which typically receives about 650 calls for service each year.
“While it is not as extreme as it was two years ago, it’s definitely a similar event,” Turgel said. “It’s brought back a lot of flashbacks.”
The vast majority of calls for Central Oregon Disaster Restoration has been for ice dams, although crews have responded to homes where trees collapsed on the roofs from the weight of the snow.
For homes with ice dams, Turgel is urging residents to be proactive in the future and try to remove the snow from their roofs. If snow is left on a roof, it will likely melt during the day and the water will freeze at night leading to an ice dam, he said.
The best way to remove an ice dam is calling a crew to use an industrial steamer to slowly melt the ice away, Turgel said. People should not try to chip the ice away with a hammer because that can damage the shingles on the roof, he added.
Turgel recommends placing heat tape around a roof to avoid ice dams. Heat tape, also called heat cable, is an electrical wiring that can be strung along the edge of a roofline and gutter and warms up enough to prevent melting snow from freezing.
Turgel suspects a reason his company is getting less calls this year is because people added heat tape to their homes after ice dams formed two winters ago.
“I think a lot of people never wanted to deal with this again so they invested in the heat tape,” Turgel said.
Overall, Turgel is encouraging homeowners and businesses to reach out if they think their buildings might have damage from the winter storms. His company offers free inspections to ease people’s minds.
“They can sleep well at night knowing there is no damage, or if there is damage we can help them through the process,” Turgel said.
Heating companies are also busy responding to issues with snow and ice causing damage to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
Clarissa Bonneru, the marketing coordinator at Central Oregon Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, said her company has seen a spike in calls and is responding to 25 percent more jobs than usual this time of year.
“We made sure to stay open even during the snowstorms to make sure our customers were warm and comfortable,” Bonneru said.
Now that the snow is melting, it is important for people to keep the melted snow from dripping into their systems, Bonneru said. The best way to do that is by shoveling around outdoor systems and keeping gutters clear of snow, she said.
If people think snow and ice is hindering their heating systems, they need to keep the heat at a comfortable level until a crew arrives and not make the system work harder by turning the heat up and down, Bonneru said.
“Keep it as is and don’t let it work so hard to get back up,” she said.
The historic February snowfall, which dumped more than 2 feet of snow in Bend in three days, damaged more than just homes in the region.
A few public buildings around Central Oregon are being repaired from snow damage.
Major ice dams caused interior leaks and damage to insulation, ceiling tile, sheet rock and carpeting in the city of Bend’s utility department offices.
Nine offices in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office in Bend had roof leaks, and a few gutters were damaged at the Deschutes County Extension office and 4-H building in Redmond.
Whether it’s a business, government building or home, repair companies hope people stay proactive in future storms and identify the signs of damage.
Bend resident Kathryn Eng said she learned her lesson this year after not clearing the snow off her roof or clearing the gutters of her home on Butler Market Road in northeast Bend.
The weight of snow and ice on her roof created massive ice dams. Eng and her partner, Lance Fine, tried to remove part of the ice dams last week, but their effort made things worse. They watched as an entire section of gutter collapsed off the side of the house.
The couple remains in good spirits and is happy there wasn’t other damage.
“There is no leaking anywhere else,” Eng said. “It was our negligence that caused it.”
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