ice dams

With heavy snow and ice building up on roofs many homeowners are calling professionals to clear ice dams. (CBC)

With nearly 100 centimetres of snow in many parts of New Brunswick in December, fire officials are reminding homeowners to remove snow from outside of basement windows, vents and from roofs.

About 90 centimetres of snow fell in the Fredericton area in December, which is about twice the average. Moncton has seen at least 80 centimetres of snow in the past two weeks alone.

Moncton's deputy fire chief Don McCabe says the fire department is warning homeowners to remove snow from around basement windows and from dryer and natural gas vents.

"We've had two or three instances already with chimney fires and stove fires that the windows were plugged so we spent time shoveling the window out first to get access to the window to ventilate," McCabe said.

Removing snow from roofs dangerous

McCabe is also recommending snow be removed from roofs and says if you aren't comfortable doing it yourself, you should hire a professional.

On Monday a 52-year-old man fell trying to clear his roof in Moncton.

Platoon Chief Dennis Dollemont says it is a common occurrence at this time of the year and the man is lucky his injuries were minor.

'So the water accumulates and backs up underneath flashing, underneath shingles... and that's where the real hazard and risk is.' - Stephane Comtois, professional roof cleaner

"The only apparent injury was to his heels, he was assisted up and was able to walk to the ambulance by himself."

Stephane Comtois, a professional roof cleaner with K&S General Services in Dieppe, says if you do hire someone you should be sure they have insurance.

He says he is covered in case of damage to shingles, or if he were to fall. 

Comtois says it's not the snow on roofs that homeowners should worry about but the ice that is underneath it.

"It's probably two and a half inches thick and the amount of water that was backed up behind this, you could have filled a bowl," he said at the site of a job. 

Comtois explains the layer of ice forms when a warm home melts the snow on the roof during the day and then freezes again at night.

"So the water accumulates and backs up underneath flashing, underneath shingles... and that's where the real hazard and risk is."

Water can get into walls, behind drywall and be absorbed by insulation. Homeowners like Hazel and Jimmy Hendricks also worry about the weight of the ice on the roofs structure.

"We just don't want to take the chance of having any problems so we hire our perfect little guy there," she said.