EnergySmart Web Article

By June 25, 2019 Writing Samples

This article was written for a client’s website, to provide how-to information on a common problem and to promote the company’s services.

Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Ice building up on your home’s roof is not only inconvenient, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your roof and interior living space. By identifying the reasons why ice is building up, and fixing those underlying causes, EnergySmart of Vermont can help stop this damage from occurring.

Why Ice Dams Form

Big icicles hanging from the edge of a roof are a symptom of a problem – too much heat is escaping from the house’s living space into the attic area.

Normally in the winter an attic should be cold. Ideally, the temperature in your attic should be as cold as the temperature outside. That keeps the snow on the roof from melting too quickly. If the attic is too warm, the snow on the roof melts and the water runs down the roof toward the eaves. When the water gets to the edge of the roof, where the temperature is colder, it refreezes and forms ice. That’s what causes the icicles you see.

This happens over and over, until so much ice has built up on the edge of the roof that it forms an ice dam. Additional water coming down the roof reaches this barrier and it begins to back up in pools behind the dam. The water doesn’t freeze because it is warmed by the heat from the attic under the roof’s surface.

Water pooled up behind the ice dam will eventually seep under the shingles. From there, it can get into the attic and flow down into your living space, damaging ceilings and walls.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

To keep ice dams from forming, your attic space should be air sealed and insulated. It should also be well ventilated. EnergySmart of Vermont has years of experience doing this type of work to stop ice dams from forming.

Warm air from the lower floors can flow into attics through many small gaps and holes. This may include the gaps around a hatchway or chimney, the tops of walls, or the holes that were drilled to run power cables through. Recessed lights in the ceiling below are often a source of air leakage into the attic. Thoroughly sealing all these spots will stop warm air from leaking into the attic.

Once the air sealing is done, the attic must be adequately insulated. Older homes tend to not have sufficient insulation, which allows heat to rise through the ceiling into the attic. Fiberglass insulation does little to stop this heat loss, as air can easily pass through the fiberglass. Instead, EnergySmart of Vermont adds cellulose insulation to attic spaces, which is made from recycled newspaper and is much more dense. We calculate how much cellulose needs to be added and then carefully measure in many different places to ensure the proper amount of insulation has been added uniformly throughout the attic.

Getting Started

The first step to ending an ice dam problem – or preventing one from happening – is to schedule an energy audit with EnergySmart of Vermont. Our auditors will do a series of tests to identify exactly how heat is getting into your attic. Once those causes have been pinpointed, they’ll make a set of recommendations for you to consider. EnergySmart can also do the work to correct the problem, with projects usually taking only two or three days. Not only will your battle with ice dams be over forever, you’ll also have a more comfortable home and save money on your heating bills.