Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Ice Dams and Chainsaws or You May be Right, They May be Crazy….

January 29, 2013

Don’t try this at home!  Chain saws and snow blowers don’t belong on roofs, and I would suggest you don’t either, especially in the winter. These guys are clearly…ahem, professionals.

One obvious down side would be landing in your living room snow blower and all.  Preventative maintenance is the way to go.  What does that mean? Start with some tips in our fact sheet on ice dams. You could also check out past articles such as this one in the Wall Street Journal .  It’s that season again so be safe and be smart,  take steps this year, with a home energy assessment and make sure you air seal and insulate right to avoid the problem in the future.



One ton of Ice

August 4, 2011

It was 1911 when The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles had installed air conditioning truly bringing the concept of keeping comfortably cool to the masses.  Ten years earlier Willis Carrier had started work in Buffalo, New York, a city not too far from our Greenhomes America office in Syracuse.   His trial and error over the years focused on dehumidification and it was in 1907 that the Carrier Air conditioning company was established.

What did folks do before that?  Looking back at a late 1800’s trade journal “Ice and Refrigeration” reveals a lot.    The journal is packed with beautiful advertising for coils and pumps and innovative patents for cooling systems ads for insulation like cork and mineral wool and insulating paper whatever that may be.  It also holds reports of what industry in need of cooling relied on every year:  Ice Harvests.

The Hudson River crop in 1890 was around “4,000,000 tons of which New York, Brooklyn and Jersey City will use 1,200000 tons or more if the summer proves a hot one”.  Ice harvest happened in many places, a number of rivers in Maine were used and the ice was then stored near shipyards to be distributed later.

There’s a connection to today we might not think of:  The size of our air conditioners.  From the beginning these cooling machines capacities were described by an equivalent amount of ice that would melt in a day.   A window unit might be less than a 1 ton system where central air can range from 2 to 5 tons. 

How much do you need?   Think of keeping food in a cooler for a long trip to the beach or a weekend camping.  As that block of ice melts it keeps things cool in there.    The more we open it up the more we lose that cooling.  The less insulated or efficient the cooler is the faster it melts.  Same goes for our houses.  We don’t think of running out of ice anymore because we’ve found a way for air conditioner to provide endless cooling, as long as we pay the bill.

The GreenHomes Partners I visited recently really know cooling.  Just as important they understand how to keep the cool in your home as well with air-sealing and insulation so you can get by starting out with a smaller block of ice!      

 Image from wikimedia commons

2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest Winner Announced!

March 11, 2011

The cold and snowy winter in Central New York was a dream for fans of icicles, but a nightmare for many homeowners. However pretty, those giant icicles can form devastating ice dams on the edges of your roof, backing up water under your roofing and into the walls. Leaks and structural damage are the symptoms of a bad ice-damming problem, but are only part of a much worse, underlying problem. Ice dams are largely due to inadequate insulation and air sealing in your attic and roof. The precious heat you pump into your home escapes through the roof, melting the snow that rests on top. When the snow reaches the cold edges and eves of the roof, it refreezes into blocks of ice, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds!

Our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest brought in an impressive display of ice from across Central New York (Facebook album). From giant ice curtains to compact-car-sized heaps, the entries were as varied as they were scary. But we could only pick one home to receive a free comprehensive home energy assessment and $1,000 worth of attic insulation and air sealing to help prevent future instances of ice damming and keep one family warmer, safer and more comfortable, plus put some money back into their pockets!

The Winner of GreenHomes America's 2011 Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest

And the winner is… Priscilla Thibault’s Victorian home! Like Priscilla says, “this 1858 Victorian house may have charm, but the icicles can be destructive and potentially deadly.” Not only do the icicles present a major safety hazard, but are also tell-tale signs that Pricillas’ valuable heating dollars aren’t all contributing to her family’s comfort – many of them are feeding the monster on her roof! Our crew from Syracuse will be heading out to Priscilla’s home to begin reclaiming her roof, her home’s comfort and her energy bills. Stay tuned for updates!

Thanks to everyone who entered our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest!

Ice Dams, Ice Dams, Ice Dams

February 10, 2011

Have I mentioned ice dams at all this year?  They’ve certainly been a huge problem throughout the Midwest and Northeast this year. Well, let’s hit it again. But rather than repeat myself, I’ll point to you some resources.

First, do check out the fact sheet and an FAQ on the causes of and solutions for icicles and ice dam problems on the GreenHomes America website. A lot of great information, there.

Of course, you can also search this blog for a lot of previous posts and pictures describing the problems of icicles and ice damming.

wendy bounds ice dam good morning americaLast week I mentioned a WSJ article on this by Wendy Bounds.  Well, she took that story to the airwaves in both radio appearances and on Good Morning America earlier this week.  I think there is too much emphasis on the temporary quick fix, but kudos to Ms. Bounds for pointing out that insulation and air-sealing are “the best cure”.  And how!   An ounce of prevention–and you save money and make your home more comfortable at the same time!



GreenHomes America’s “Biggest, Baddest Icicles” Photo Contest

January 18, 2011

Win a Free Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment and $1,000 Worth of Attic Insulation and Air Sealing!

They’re BIG and they’re BAD. Icicles may make pretty ornaments for your home, but they are actually telltale signs of valuable heat and energy escaping through your home’s roof! Chances are, your heating bill is going through the roof, too.

Inadequate insulation in the attic and air leaks around fixtures, vents, attic stairs and other spots causes heat to travel up through your roof, melting the snow and ice. Those strange snow-melt patterns on your roof – squares, rectangles, etc. – those are hot spots where heat is leaking out as well! Adding insulation and air sealing will help keep heat in your home where it belongs, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. Icicles and ice buildup can also cause ice damming, which leads to leaks and can cause structural damage in your home.

GreenHomes America is offering a free comprehensive home energy assessment and $1,000 worth of attic insulation and air sealing to the person who shows us their biggest and baddest icicles photo by 2/28/11! Please visit the contest page for more details and to submit your icicle photo!

Or, learn more about ice damming at:

Ice in Auburn

January 27, 2009

We spent a few days in Auburn, NY last week working on several projects.  Driving through town we saw ice and icicles everywhere!  As you know from previous posts, this isn’t good. Of course, Auburn isn’t unique.  In towns and cities throughout the Northeast right now we’ve got “perfect” conditions to wreck roofs—a lot of snow and highs in the 20’s.  Why the 20s?  It’s warm enough that the wasted heat escaping through the attic can melt a lot of snow.  But it’s cold enough that the melted water quickly refreezes when it hits the eaves.


Some people are battling this with heat tape on the roofs.  This may help (not always) with the short term problem—but now you are using even more energy to address a problem caused by wasting energy!  This means very high bills.  It’s better to get to the root of the problem.


Back to Auburn.  If you live in Central New York, and you’ve got a picture of bad ice at your house, enter our contest and you might win a visit from GreenHomes to help fix the problem!



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