It had been a pretty tough winter and many homes had suffered from severe winter damage. Ice dams happen every winter and for some it’s not bad and for others it can be a devastating discovery as water and ice fall between your walls or through the ceiling.
Essentially here’s what happens. Winter storms build up snow on the roof and the heat from the building (through insulation, chimneys, and roof vents) and from the sun causes the roof snow to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof lines to valleys and eaves and then refreezes. As day/night time temperatures cycle up and down the loss melts the snow and the ice dams and icicles continue to grow. The more snow, the more ice dam and icicle formations. As things warm up again you find yourself with roof leaks, internal building damage, and possible mold issues. Falling icicles can create lower roof damage, deck damage, not to mention safety issues for the unsuspecting person.
In researching these issues we learned what can happen if too much air is escaping your house. Air can escape through can lights, attic access doors, unducted exhaust fans, openings around the chimneys, and poor levels of insulation. The best way to really prevent an ice dam and icicle formation is to make sure eaves, valleys, gutters, and any other problem area is efficiently warming. In order to get to the heart of the problem a blower door test should be done. This measures the amount of air that is escaping the home. On a side note, this can also affect your heating bill. If your home always feels cold and you are using more heat to feel warm, than you just might have an insulation problem. A lot of work can go into making sure your home is properly sealed, but in the long run it’s worth it. We definitely recommend making sure you do your homework and get several quotes before having any work done. It’s important to understand the full scope of the work as you’ll probably also be looking at drywall repair and painting after any insulation work is done. Make sure you’re comfortable with your contractors and that you understand the time line to get things fixed.
For more detailed information on Ice Dams, checkout www.wi-icedamsolutions.com.
Greg Bublitz was one of the many people we consulted with to make sure we were doing things the right way to ensure proper insulation on our own home.