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Handyman on Call

Why you should never rake on a pitched roof

Q. When is it necessary to use a roof rake? I have a relatively steep-pitched slate roof colonial.

SEAN, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Never, never use a roof rake or try to shovel snow off a slanted roof. It will do no good, will not cure ice dams, is extremely hazardous, and can harm asphalt shingles, and in your case, slate shingles. And it will take away snow that is a natural insulator as long as it stays on your house. Your question is timely in the wake of the blizzard last weekend. As for what you can do for all this snow, the only sensible thought is to let it go away by itself. Your story brings up an old wives’ tale that appeared in the Globe a few years ago during the last heavy snowfalls, quoting many roofers who suggested removing snow from roofs to prevent ice dams. When I read that story, I told the editors that sloped roofs need never be shoveled, and removing snow will not stop ice dams. Flat roofs, yes, but not sloped ones.

Q. I have never had leakage in the attic, but a neighbor said he had “ice dams” in his previous house. What are they?


In Hotton’s chat room

A. In periods of heavy, long-lasting snow, many houses will be plagued by ice dams. An ice dam occurs on a warm roof when snow builds up, then begins to melt and freezes into ice, forming a dam that backs water up-roof, forcing itself under roof shingles and into attics, windows, and the house itself. If your house is well-insulated including the attic floor, and your attic is well-ventilated with a ridge vent and soffit vents (under the roof overhang), you will not, or should not, get ice dams or leaks. A cold roof is the only cure for ice dams.


Q. When I bought a new bed set, the old set left imprints in the wall-to-wall carpet. How can I raise the crushed fibers and make them invisible? The new set’s feet are different from the old.

CURIOUS about the imprints

A. Try this: Place a damp cloth over an imprint and run a hot iron over it. Or set the iron on steam and run it over the imprints. Then fluff up the fibers with a stiff comb or hair pick. The new bed set may have round, smooth steel feet that will make less deep imprints. You could also put round or square rubber foot cups under the new set to keep imprints to a minimum.

Mr. Clean, anyone?

Here’s a note I received from MK Feely of Scituate: “First I want to say that I love your weekly column in the Globe. I get all sorts of great tips on repairs. However, your obsession/addiction to recommending Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is unwarranted in my estimation. I have used it off and on for a few years and find it rips easily and is therefore not cost effective and it’s cleaning capability is not that great. I find it amusing whenever you recommend it.”

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.