Well it has been an eventful 2 weeks if you are into weather! New Englanders have been blasted by almost 6 feet of snow, and more is on the way! This time of year causes lots of headaches for homeowners. Not only are we forced to stay indoors and off the roads, but our homes take the brunt of the weather! Between increased fuel costs and wear and tear, you could be spending more on operating your home than you have to. One of the first places to evaluate your home’s heat loss can be seen from outside your home.
Take a look at your roof, first off, how much snow is up there? If your answer is practically none, you may have a problem. Now look further down, look towards your soffit / gutters, do you see ice dams? What is an ice dam?
Even if your home’s attic has adequate insulation, you are still susceptible to ice dams. In your home, you have pathways that air travels. The first rule of thermo-dynamics is that high pressure, (heated), air will move to lower pressure, (cold), air, and just like electricity, it takes the paths of least resistance. In your home you have a network of pathways call top plates. This is where the partition and exterior walls meet the ceiling. Another common pathway is your attic access, whether its a door, a hatch or a pull down stair apparatus. Just about anything that compromises the integrity of the ceiling is going to give warm air egress to the colder air in your attic.
The warm air that infiltrates your attic, heats up the roof deck, melting the snow from underneath. That melted snow water runs down to your gutter system, which is located on your soffit. This area is typically the same temperature as the outside air, with no heated air below it, the water turns back into ice. Once that happens, the process continues on the roof deck, and once that water can’t flow down the gutters, it sits there, trying to find a way through your roof.
The best way to combat this destructive process is to stop the warm air from infiltrating the attic, and to do that, you need to air seal. Once you block the warm air pathways, the attic stays colder, which means the snow doesn’t melt as fast and you won’t be left with you house looking like this: