I live in the northeastern US, and the temperatures this month have
been around 10 degrees or colder most of the time.
My house is the only one on the street with icicles. I know that
means I've got some sort of issues with my roof.
We have a crawlspace attic. In 1996, we had a new roof put on (second
layer of shingles on one side; brand new plywood and a single layer of
shingles on the other). As part of the roofing, we had a ridge vent
put on, and the roofers said that they made sure the soffet vents in
the attic were clear. But we get icicles every year, and our house is
always the first one to have no snow on its roof.
What's wrong, and what are some simple (and cheap!) ways to remedy
the heat inside the house it being lost due to poor insulation in the
attic(over the ceiling) the heat then goes to the roof and melts the
snow and then the melted snow(water) flows down to the fascia boards and
it does not have the heat anymore and freezes... you need more
insulation in the attic over the ceiling to keep the heat inside your
To add to what jim already said about more insulation. Make _sure_ the
roofers cut open the ridge before installing ridge vent, you would be
surprised with how many short cut the installation and just through the vent
up there with no opening. You will also want to double check on the soffit
vents being clear before and after adding insulation.
If your venting is good (have you actually looked up there, or are you
believing the roofers, who may or may not have done the things they claim),
then your problem is
1) You like the house real warm
2) You don't have enough insulation.
I would guess the latter. I had a house with ZERO icicles, and approx 6"
of attic insulation, shitty ventilation, and temperatures as you describe,
in Buffalo, where one sometimes has over a foot of snow on the roof. I kept
the house at 67 degrees. Other "identical" houses had life-threatening
icicles. Add some insulation (and check the vents). If you add insulation,
be sure you have baffles to permit your soffit venting to work.
Do all the roofs face in the same direction? The sun and wind can
have a great deal to do with snow retention & icicle formation.
If a roof facing in the same direction as yours has more snow and less
icicles, then that roof is losing less heat through it than yours.
Maybe you need more insulation, or maybe you need to turn your heat
down below 95 degrees. Or maybe that roof is better ventilated?
But if that neighbor's roof has no snow on it, then *they* are the
ones who need to insulate or turn their heat down. Or they have a tin
roof & the snow slides off.
Watch your roof after a snow and see how the melting pattern is. It
should point out to you where you are losing heat. [if that is indeed
the problem-- it has been a 'good year' for icicles in my neck of the
woods-- lots of snow, a little rain, then super cold.]
Yep, insulation and ventilation. You can't have too much ventilation(ridge-vent
is excellent, _with_ properly working soffit vents). Make sure the insulation
isn't covering the soffit vents again, and maybe add more insulation? Tom
Someday, it'll all be over....
Do all the houses have the same roof orientation? Snow on
roofs that face the south disappear long before snow on the
north. Second, do you have a gas heater and where does the
combustion and other air for the furnace come from? If you
have a vent in the ceiling for air, you are simply pouring
warm air into the attic. Does the flue get warm and provide
more warmth to the attic? Do you have sunken light in the
ceiling? You need to look at all potential source of heat
and which side of the roof they are on. My roof on the
north side shows bare spots associated with the furnace that
did not appear until we switched from electric to a gas
furnace, no change in the attic insulation.
But you may just have poorly insulated ceilings. You should
have 12-15 inches of insulation as a minimum. Blow in
insulation will crush from 12 inches to 1 inch and not
recover, so if someone bounces around up there you need to
add more insulation.
Most likely poor air circulation on the underside of the roof, it's okay if
you attic is warm as long as your roof is close to the same temp as outside.
Air enters at the soffits, circulates up the roof and exits either at the
gable vent or at the ridge vent if you have one.
Everyone is focusing on insulation and ventilation. What about the color of
the shingles? A black roof will clear off before a brown or gray roof. Do
you have a black roof? Does everybody else have light colored roofs?
Remove .spamnot to respond by email
Thanks Mike, and everyone else who has responded. Sorry I've been off
the internet for a few days this week.
Anyway, addressing a few points that people have mentioned:
1. Our shingles are grey, and far visibly lighter in color than most
of the roofs in our neighborhood.
2. We set our thermostat in November and then don't touch it until
May. The temperature in the house is a constant 67-68 degrees. We
have a digital thermometer upstairs confirming this. So a "too hot"
house isn't the issue.
3. Our attic does have insulation in it. Getting into the attic is
such a pain that I've not been there for seven years! It's a
crawlspace, and the only point of entry is via a small hole in a
closet ceiling. Gaining access to the hole essentially requires
emptying the closet. But the attic has insulation rolled into it
enough to make a smooth surface between the floor joists, but no
higher. Our house was built around 1977 and wasn't anything fancy, so
whatever was considered standard practice for insulation in middle
class homes in the late 1970s is probably what we have.
4. As my original post mentioned, we do have soffeting all the way
aound the attic and gable vents at either side (ours is a colonial
home with about 1000 sq feet of attic space). The roofers installed a
ridge vent in 1996. They showed me the vent, and were in the attic
removing rotted plywood on the front (east-facing) half of the roof
and completely replacing that plywood. Did I SEE them put the ridge
vent in and did I SEE that they cut out the roof for it? No. But
given that they showed me the vent, and that they were cutting plywood
(I saw and heard the cutting), I'm pretty comfortable saying that was
My guesses are that my problem is too little insulation, or blocked
soffets (but how likely is it that ALL soffets are blocked?). Maybe
How much can I expect to pay to remedy this/these?
Thanks! That's the first time I've thought about this. BUT...
(1) The two bathrooms venting into the attic have shower steam in them
probably less than an hour a day.
(2) The attic IS ventilated anyway (well, somewhat...). Would an hour
of 120 degree air vented into the attic have THAT much effect on
things? And why would it affect only my house and not the
nearly-identical houses of my neighbors?
On 30 Jan 2004 15:41:04 -0800, email@example.com (Tom Baker) wrote:
Ugh, I feel pretty stupid. We used a "pay me in cash" cheapo
contractor to put in one of our two bathroom ceiling fans. From
research I've done, I guess the RIGHT thing is to have the fan vent
into ducting that goes to the outside of the house through the attic,
Just so I know what I'm looking at, how much should I expect to spend
for more insulation and/or proper venting of at least one, possibly
two bathroom fans?
A couple of more suggestions. Make sure the ductwork is insulated, and does
not have any droops or low spots in it. It should come up through the
ceiling and then a gradual slope to the outside. I have seen 4" uninsulated
ductwork 3/4 full of ice. You can imagine what happens when a 3" X 5' piece
of ice melts in the attic. One more thing, just because the fan is not on
doesn't mean there is no warm air entering the attic. Remember warm air
rises and over the length of a day that tiny bit of warm will constantly
enter the attic.
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