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What To Do, And What Not To Do, To Protect Your Home Amid Massive Snow, Cold

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The weight of the snow on roofs, burst pipes, broken heating, and stubborn ice dams are among the concerns for homeowners in the wake of the snowstorm this week and the extreme cold lately.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey on Tuesday asked the experts what we should all be doing. And the experts said there are plenty of things we shouldn't be doing as well.

The snow has been piling up for days – causing icicles and ice dams. But the experts said the last thing you should do is get on a ladder and try to remove it yourself.

"I feel like we are living inside a snow globe for sure," said Wade Kapteyn.

After nine days of measurable snow, Kapteyn's Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning crews are facing even greater challenges than burst pipes and conked out heaters.

"Getting to customers' homes right now has proven to be difficult," Kapteyn said.

His crews in the field ran into difficulties getting down snow-packed streets. It has been a similar scenario for the roofing experts at M&M Home Remodeling Services.

"Oh, absolutely," said Jeff Smith of M&M. "And frankly, it'll get a lot more once we get above freezing."

We asked Smith about massive icicles that have been growing over the last two weeks, coupled with what is now feet of snow coating many the roofs in residential areas.

"The real reason it happens, though, is really because of attic insulation, or lack thereof," Smith said.

Smith said attics in our often bitterly cold region should have roughly 16 to 20 inches of insulation so that the air inside your home doesn't heat up the roof - causing the snow to melt prematurely and damming up your gutters.

Smith agrees with the city Office of Emergency Management and Communications warning on Tuesday. Officials advise not going onto the roof, because it is not safe and you never know what is underneath the snow.

Smith said once that ice is there, you should not pick at it yourself.

"You can really damage your gutters and sometimes even the roof if you try and, you know, chip away at it or shovel it," he said.

Officials and the experts said roofs in Chicago are built for snow, so if your roof is up to code, you really should not have any issues with the roof collapsing or snow causing major damage.

On the heating side, Kapteyn had a warning if you have high-efficiency furnace venting to the outside of the house.

"We want to make sure that there's no ice forming you know what I mean, that could be blocking those vent pipes," he said.

But both experts warned that it is going to get worse when things start to melt.

"We're going to have 30-some-odd inches of snow and most places melt, and that's going to wreak havoc on those drain systems inside the house – those drain tile systems," Kapteyn said. "So we just want people to be prepared."

Four Seasons also recommends changing your filters. You want your heating system to be as healthy as possible.

And even though it's brutally cold, do not crank your heat up too high or it will put too much stress on the system. Right now, the experts are seeing a lot of issues with that as well.

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