Snow in Northeast creates conditions for roof icicles and ice damming—signs of wasted energy

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Burlington, Vermont got hit with a 33 inch snow storm (and several more inches from a couple other storms) last week. Syracuse, Fulton, and much as Central New York are getting pounded with snow much of the last ten days and more on the way. Snow on rooftops often leads to problems with icicles and ice damming, as we’ve discussed here before, but primarily for homes with air leakage into the attic and poor insulation. (Some will tout inadequate ventilation as the cause—but roof ventilation is often insufficient, it can make energy leakage worse, and it’s possible to solve this issue with no roof ventilation!). I thought I’d take a quick stroll and capture some examples of signs that we look for to help spot problems.  These pictures were taken within 30 minutes of each other on homes within a half mile radius of the first home shown.  What a difference good insulation and air-sealing makes!

This first home is an example of what we’d like to see.  An even snow pattern with no signs of excessive melt or ice build-up.  The attic is well-sealed and insulated to R-60+.  This particular home is more than 80 years old–so existing homes can indeed be made more energy-efficient.

This example shows that “New” isn’t always better.  After an extensive remodel completed within the last two years, this home should perform like a newly constructed home.  And in many ways, it does–unfortunately that means not as well as one would expect.  Too often new construction detailing isn’t done well and homeowners don’t really get the performance they should.

Cape Cod style homes are notorious for the poor air-sealing and insulation installation.  The changes in the roof plane and top and side attics require special attention.  More often than not, the details are missed, and the homeowner is left with deficiencies that create an inefficient home.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but there are some interesting melt patterns which probably mean some big air leaks and/or missing insulation.

Again, more recent remodeling means a big missed opportunity to improve efficiency.  I suppose this much ice, though, does make it harder for the neighbors to sign in the first floor windows!

Notice the melting along the ridge, and heat loss at the rafters telegraphing through the snow.

This looks like a semi-cathedralized ceiling, with a fair amout of air moving through the insulated rafter bays–and the ridge vent at the top may be accelerating the heat loss.

Something to think seriously about.  Excessive melting and ice damming is a good way to wreck your roof.  Now, I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but winter is not the best time to replace a roof–it’s generally done only in an emergency.

A fair amount of this home’s heating bill goes toward melting snow!

Now here’s an example of what we’d like to see those Cape Cod roofs to look like (even if this isn’t technically a Cape Cod style house)!

Whoops–looks like someone missed insulation in a couple of bays…

And several more examples follow.  Any ideas what’s going on with these?

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8 Responses to “Snow in Northeast creates conditions for roof icicles and ice damming—signs of wasted energy”

  1. Roof killers—icicles and ice damming « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] [Update, see more roof melt and icicle photos.] […]

  2. Icicles Follow-up « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] By greenhomesamerica A few days ago, we showed pictures of various roofs with evidence of heat loss as demonstrated by strange snow melt patterns and […]

  3. Gene Huckabay Says:

    I usually dont post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, great post.

  4. DC and the Mid-Atlantic Snow Leads to Roof Ice Problems « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] creating havoc, also provides an opportunity for homeowners to look for problems as shown with this series of photos from […]

  5. Vent those bath fans to the outside–NOT into the attic « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] In snow country, exhausting your bath fan into the attic—with all that warm air—is a recipe for ice dams (and more on ice dams).  Don’t do it! Please don't exhaust your bathroom fans into the […]

  6. Cecil Nocket Says:

    I really like your writing style, superb information, regards for posting : D.

  7. Syracuse pounded by snow–and roof ice problems follow « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] discussed earlier about how poor air-sealing and insulation can lead to ice problems.  And we’ll renew that […]

  8. izolasyon Says:

    against ice and frost events was developed with nanotechnology zycosil i would suggest you review

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