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Minnesota Community Living 2013-03-04 Protecting Your HOA from the Minnesota Thaw
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Protecting Your HOA from the Minnesota Thaw

By Tony Poetz, New Exteriors by SMA, Inc.

It’s hard to believe, but the Minnesota thaw is just around the corner. At this time of year, HOA property managers lose sleep over the thought of icy sidewalks, water infiltration and ice dams creeping under shingles. The Minnesota snow melt can do a ton of damage, but there are some straightforward, low-maintenance solutions.

Gutters help a lot. The amount of snow on your roofs will translate to thousands of gallons of water in a hurry to hit the ground. All that water can be efficiently funneled away from your foundations. We have an entire article devoted to the benefits of gutters in our September/October 2009 issue. You can find it in the archives.

Rake the lowest two feet of snow from your horizontal roof edges. This simple action allows a free flow of water to the gutters without creating those late March ice blocks on the edge. Extendable snow rakes are light and durable and a small crew can quickly move around the edge of each building.

Water infiltration at the foundation can be a simple matter of removing about two feet of snow away from the block. Buildings without basements are generally built on raised elevations and every building should have a grade that slopes away from the foundation. The sloped grade creates an easy path for water to move away from the home. Your snow crew can greatly advance this process by removing a couple feet of snow away by hand or snow-blower. A proactive solution that is becoming more common is the installation of hedges or hearty shrubs near the buildings edge to prevent snow buildup or wind blown snow.

Finally, ice dams. Though many believe they are simply part of living in a winter climate, they’re actually the result of failed attic preparation. When a home’s heat rises and hits the bottom of the shingles, the snow melts. The water heads down to the eave and over the edge. Once the water hits the edge, it’s no longer on a warm roof and it freezes — creating dangerous icicles and damaging ice dams. The water is still coming so the ice dam grows and grows upward underneath your shingles, peeling them along the way and finally resulting in a wet attic. How do you fix this? It’s simple physics.

  • Adequate insulation prevents heat loss. There are recommendations per type of insulation, but you generally want about 16" of blown insulation in your attics.
  • Your soffit (under the eave) ventilation allows cool air to blow into the attic reducing the shingle-heating warm temps. Siding contractors can take care of this for you.
  • Adequate roof ventilation up top allows an easy out-flow of attic heat. Roofing contractors know how much you need. Many times, the addition of one vent to a roof solves an ice dam problem.

The Minnesota thaw is almost here. Avoid the flood of water – and the flood of complaint calls – with just a few basic steps.

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Chapter Staff Editor Joe Flannigan at, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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