Attica man's sights set high
|Donít try this at home! While it looks like Jay Bender is blowing snow from walkway, this photo shows that things arenít always what they seem. Bender is on the roof of Warnarís Chiropractic. photo by Randy Jorgensen.|
January 28, 2009IMLAY CITY — Things are definitely looking up for Jay Bender. Literally.
All of this winter's snowfall has kept the owner of Bender's Estate Service— an Attica based landscaping, mowing and snow removal company—pretty busy. Now he's setting his sights higher, so to speak, as the huge piles of snow melt and freeze on the roofs of his commercial clients' buildings.
On Friday, motorists on M-21 caught a glimpse of Bender wielding a snowblower atop the roof of Warnar's Chiropractic offices to offset a growing problem.
"They were getting some ice damming problems, and with the gutters full and some melting going on right where the patients walk in the door it was clear ice—melting and freezing depending on the temperatures," Bender says.
That's just one of the problems snow and ice buildup creates for building owners—including homeowners.
Bender says snow—especially as much as we've had this season—tends to compact on the roof depending on weather conditions, and the added weight can cause damage.
"It's especially a problem if there's not much of a pitch or if the roof is flat," Bender says.
Last winter, the roof collapse at Imlay City Ford was attributed to a buildup of heavy snow. The former building had a flat roof.
Heavy snow buildup can also lead to leaks where it settles and melts, especially if the roof has a few years on it.
All the melting and freezing isn't good for gutters either, Bender says. If they get filled up six inches or more of solid ice they can come crashing down.
That's why Bender offers the added service to his commercial clients when it gets this snowy and cold.
"I know it's been an expensive year to plow and salt but with this extra service they can save money from ice damming damages or a slip and fall lawsuit," he says.
Some years, Bender has even taken an air chisel to a roof to eliminate ice dams.
"You have to create a spot where the water can go to," he says.
He's been on roofs with as much as 16 inches of snow on them, and in some valleys the snow's been knee deep.
Clearing it, Bender adds quickly, is best tackled by professionals. Without the proper equipment and experience, he cautions, it's very risky to get up on a snow and ice covered roof, not to mention hoisting any kind of equipment.
"I can't state that enough," Bender grins. "We have the tools and the skills to do it."
Even after the snow's off the roof there are potential backbreaking problems for someone who's not prepared.
"It hits the ground and packs down real hard and you need equipment—at least a blower and sometimes a plow—to move it," he says.
Bender, who's been in the business for 21 years, says there is a relatively safe alternative for homeowners who are concerned about too much snow on their roofs.
"They sell roof rakes that have 20 foot handles so you can remove the snow while standing on the ground," he says. "You still have to deal with moving it (after it's down), but even if you can clear 10 or 20 feet of snow from your roof that'll help."
For those who try the roof rake method, Bender has one more tip.
"You have to be careful if you've got landscaping close to your house," he says. "The heavy snow can take it out."