Avoid Ice Dams- Angie’s List

Avoid ice dams with proper attic insulation

Without proper insulation and venting in your attic, icicles can form on your eaves, leading to a damaging ice dam on your roof, says Neubecker. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Donna B. of Mendota Heights, Minn.)Without proper insulation and venting in your attic, icicles can form on your eaves, leading to a damaging ice dam on your roof, says Neubecker. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Donna B. of Mendota Heights, Minn.)http://www.angieslist.com/files/ice-dam-gutter.jpg

Date Published: Jan 08 2014
by Bill Neubecker of Comfort Zone Insulation

While a heavy snowfall can be beautiful to watch as it happens, there are a number of problems that result from these sorts of storms. What do you do when water is pouring down the inside of your walls and the ice is ripping off your gutters? The key is to find a cure to the problem before it gets this bad.

Icicles form at eave’s edges as a result of a warm attic due to heat loss through the ceiling. This causes the heat from inside the house to melt the snow on the roof before the sun can melt the snow and it collects at the eaves, which are colder because there is no heat above the overhang.

The result is icicles that develop on your eaves, which can lead to leaks inside your walls when the ice also builds on the roof. This buildup of ice is called an ice dam.

The cure for this is two-fold. The heat loss can be stopped with proper insulation. For example, in the southeastern Michigan area, 13 inches of blown-in cellulose fiber insulation (R49) is recommended.

The other half of this cure is proper ventilation at eaves and at the ridge of the building. This is best accomplished by soffit vents and a high quality ridge vent on a gable-roofed house. A hip-roofed house would require individual roof vents to get enough air movement to properly vent the attic.

Your insulation specialist should be able to advise you on the proper number of vents. The formula is one square foot of vent for every 150 square feet of attic space, evenly divided between the roof vents and the soffit vents.

If you have ice dams forming on your roof, you are urged to hire a professional contractor to clear the ice, as you could do considerable damage to your roof or seriously injure yourself if you are not familiar with this type of work.

The money you save in energy can quickly pay for the cost of the insulation within a matter of years, allowing you to enjoy the snow instead of dreading the next winter storm.

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