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Ice-dams and icicles cause for concern

TOWNSEND/PEPPERELL — The recent snow storms presented problems for highway crews and shovelers alike as people began to go about their daily business, but the snow that accumulated on roofs meant another level of headache.

Water poured into the history room at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell. Library Director Deb Spratt jumped right and macguyvered a solution to minimize the damage.

Instead of just the regulation buckets to catch drips, a solution all too many homeowners have resorted to, Spratt relied on another set of tools: duct tape and tin foil.

Swaths of the shiny stuff routed water away from the ornate walls of the historic building and into buckets and recycling bins. Fans chugged away upstairs, drying the plaster and carpet before mold could set in.

“It helps to have a library director with Yankee ingenuity and a father who was a master plumber,” Spratt said.

Contractors worked on the roof, shoveling snow from the higher, older roof where an ice dam had formed onto the flatter roof of the addition. As a precaution, Spratt said, the snow was shoveled from the flat roof even though it was fine.

The town was keeping an eye on its newer buildings too.

“We have cleared portions of the Senior Center roof in an effort to clear away ice and snow and the accompanying weight factor,” said Town Administrator Mark Andrews.

A giant icicle decorated the left side of the entrance to Memorial Hall in Townsend. The column connected the roof to the ground, passing near the window of the town administrator’s office.

A bit of water came in the building, Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said, but the icicle was not going anywhere quickly.

“We will leave it in place so we do not damage the roof or siding by trying to remove it,” he said. “Town buildings are generally faring well despite the recent volume of snow.

It turns out that gutter where one roof joins another has been a problem for some time. In the past, said Selectman Carolyn Smart, a heater on the roof kept the ice from forming.

The flashy icicle is, at least in the middle of February, the most dramatic sign of damage to town buildings. The leaks have stopped, Sheehan said on Feb. 12.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.