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Old 02-17-2010, 12:00 PM   #31
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


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It seems that once every 5 years or so, we have an ice dam issue. My attic is pretty well insulated, so I believe that my ice dams are caused by a combination of temp (30-35) and sun warming near the peak of the roof. Melting starts, and the water runs. The north side of my house gets little to no direct sun in the winter which causes refreezing down near the gutter. Does this theory make sense? What can I do? Gutters are full of ice.
Hunh...running at two pages in this thread now. I've read every post and conclude (incorrectly??) that actually there is virtually NOTHING that one can do to deal with the large volume of ice frozen in gutters and downspouts in virtually every home in the mid-Atlantic right now??? Is there ANYTHING that folks can do right now or no?

All the info about ventilation and insulation is useful..and indeed more of both is better. However, as was stated in the OP regarding sun warming I think there are very few and far between any houses in the mid-Atlantic that are NOT dealing with this issue right now...insulation and ventilation ...or not.

I've been knocking down the icicles while reaching out second story windows...goal there is to reduce weight pulling on gutters. But one needs to be careful with that so as not to rip off gutters or downspouts. Also been thinking of trying the "reach out the window with the blow torch" to reduce some additional volume of ice/weight but I carry no delusions that will "fix" the overall issue. And the cautions with that method go without saying. There's no miracle cure. I think something that would slowly warm gutters and downspouts would be great...but know of no such product.

ETA: Sorry...correction...now 3 pages to the thread with this post!! :-)

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Last edited by piste; 02-17-2010 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:18 PM   #32
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


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Originally Posted by piste View Post
I think something that would slowly warm gutters and downspouts would be great...but know of no such product.

What about this second post??????

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Originally Posted by Big N8 View Post
We have the very same issues here in MN. The refreeze is just a part of life. Some use a heated cord to keep the ice from forming on the eves.

http://www.heatersplus.com/roofcable.htm
That link is good stuff to use.
Looks like that product right there will warm your gutters just fine.


The issue all the people in the Atlantic may be having could be from not venting the roof enough. It should be the same temp in your attic as it is out side bottom line. If that is not the case you may have an issue.
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:19 PM   #33
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


I'm dealing with the same problem. What can YOU do? Based on what I've learned so far I'd say:

- seal any air leaks between the indoors and your attic
- ensure you have adequate insulation between ceiling and attic
- ensure that there is adequate soffit and gable or ridge ventilation to carry away any heat that is escaping.

Depending on your level of ability, you can do most of this stuff yourself, if you can get to it. It's easier once the ice melts.

The ice in your gutters and downspouts is mostly a symptom of a hot roof, although some of it is caused by the natural freeze/thaw cycle. The only surefire way I'm aware of to keep gutters/downspouts clear would be to lay some electrical heat cables in them and turn them on occasionally.

On my house, I've sealed the air leaks and insulated like crazy, but still getting some ice damming. I'm hoping that adding a ridge vent this year will cool the roof down a bit more and reduce ice dams even more.

good luck
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:28 PM   #34
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What about this second post??????



Looks like that product right there will warm your gutters just fine.


The issue all the people in the Atlantic may be having could be from not venting the roof enough. It should be the same temp in your attic as it is out side bottom line. If that is not the case you may have an issue.
I did see that....I'll have to look into that product a bit more. From the picture it looks like it's primary design is on the roof as pictured though it IS called "roof AND gutter". Just don't know how I'd attach that securely along a gutter and/or downspout. Personally I would NOT want to just lay it in the gutter as I don't want to contribute to gutter debris clogging. Also...that is a preventative measure...and possibly a very good one...but right now I (and millions of others) need a CURATIVE solution. ETA: Actually...maybe I could get some of that...and wrap it up the gutter now..might begin to help. Also..I should read a bit more before typing..further down the page for that product they give a nice diagram of how to attach.

Admittedly the currrent conditions in mid-Atlantic are unusual....but I reiterate my contention that NO amount of insulation and venting would eliminate them. Throughout the wide region I travel in ...EVERY house is visibly afflicted...just some more than others. With all the snow we've had...dark roofs...moderate daylight or even full sun...daytime temps anywhere from high 20's and up....and you got ice buildup along the periphery of your roof...irrespective of how insulated and vented your attic is. Only difference from one house to the next is whether your roof is adequately designed and built to avoid internal water leakage under these conditions...or not.

On the other hand....there are parts of the world that regularly see what mid-Atlantic has seen in the last few months....wonder what they do...lemme guess...insulation and ventilation!!

Last edited by piste; 02-17-2010 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:36 PM   #35
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On the other hand....there are parts of the world that regularly see what mid-Atlantic has seen in the last few months....wonder what they do...lemme guess...insulation and ventilation!!

And maintenance. We do a few buildings and houses every year. With the freeze-thaw cycles we have, there is no "permanent fix" for every building or home.

Some people prefer to not go on their roof in winter. Some prefer not to cut their own grass. They have to hire someone to do it for them. Hopefully they hire a professional.
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:08 PM   #36
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I'm dealing with the same problem. What can YOU do? Based on what I've learned so far I'd say:

- seal any air leaks between the indoors and your attic
- ensure you have adequate insulation between ceiling and attic
- ensure that there is adequate soffit and gable or ridge ventilation to carry away any heat that is escaping.

Depending on your level of ability, you can do most of this stuff yourself, if you can get to it. It's easier once the ice melts.

The ice in your gutters and downspouts is mostly a symptom of a hot roof, although some of it is caused by the natural freeze/thaw cycle. The only surefire way I'm aware of to keep gutters/downspouts clear would be to lay some electrical heat cables in them and turn them on occasionally.

On my house, I've sealed the air leaks and insulated like crazy, but still getting some ice damming. I'm hoping that adding a ridge vent this year will cool the roof down a bit more and reduce ice dams even more.

good luck
If you don't have a ridge vent now, what do you have?
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:13 PM   #37
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


I have to admit that I now think I was incorrect above when I stated NO amount of insulation and ventilation would eliminate the problem. The problem may not be possible to eliminate...but I now agree that insulation and ventilation can significantly reduce the issue. My reason for this change of heart is as follows. I live in a fairly new housing development. There are two houses that were recently completed but are not occupied...and guess what....they have pretty much NO icicles on them.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:18 PM   #38
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


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There are two houses that were recently completed but are not occupied...and guess what....they have pretty much NO icicles on them.
Which probably means their heat was probably not turned on but in newer homes, which typically have at least 2 zones, you're going to see a gas furnace in the attic along with warm flues.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:58 AM   #39
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Which probably means their heat was probably not turned on but in newer homes, which typically have at least 2 zones, you're going to see a gas furnace in the attic along with warm flues.
Exactly. I have a furnace in my attic as well....so it's tough to get enough ventilation to dissipate that heat. Will have to work on it though.

On my way to work today I saw a house with a very large open front porch with fairly large roof...with many icicles hanging down...so I think I'm back to the position that in some circumstances no amount of insulation and ventilation will eliminate the problem...just improve/reduce it.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #40
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


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Exactly. I have a furnace in my attic as well....so it's tough to get enough ventilation to dissipate that heat. Will have to work on it though.

On my way to work today I saw a house with a very large open front porch with fairly large roof...with many icicles hanging down...so I think I'm back to the position that in some circumstances no amount of insulation and ventilation will eliminate the problem...just improve/reduce it.
This is exactly what the scientists at CMHC have said! ( see my post #24 )
Ventilation is questionable! Because the cold air cannot absorb any moisture!
To keep ice from forming on the underside of the roof, infiltration of warm, moist air from the interior of the house must be prevented at all costs!
Ice dams form when snow on the roof melts from heat from the sun and from the building. The water runs down the roof until it encounters a cold section above the soffits where it freezes. It then builds up and traps the water.
To my mind, in our climate, we should quit building eaves and soffits, or plan on allowing heat into the soffits to keep the ice melted!
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:15 PM   #41
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


You will never eliminate heat being transferred from the living space to the attic. That is why we MUST have eaves and soffits to ventilate the attic.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:19 PM   #42
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You will never eliminate heat being transferred from the living space to the attic. That is why we MUST have eaves and soffits to ventilate the attic.
From what I have read in this discussion, ventilation is a waste of effort!
We cannot stop heat loss into the attic, all we can do is minimize it! So, if eaves and soffits are problem, why not quit using them!
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:50 PM   #43
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Damn Ice dam -damn!


Good thread.

I do have some firsthand experience with ice damming. I have an 1898, 2 story with a hip roof and 28" soffit all around. Last year I had icicles 5' long all along the gutter on most of the house. The entire gutter had ice damming.

I did a tear-off new roof this past summer. A few things I did that probably helped to reduce the problem of ice damming. First I added a ridge vent. It's only 8' long. Second I installed 2" X 16" x 4 rigid foam panels between the roof rafters and then blew in cellulose under those, 14" thick. Third, I cut in soffit vents all around the perimeter.

This winter in my area of Ohio we have seen heavier snow and temps are about in the normal range. Right now, 16 on the ground and below freezing for the last 30 days. The last few days it been up to 30-34 degrees and by the weekend they say a high of 36. The snow on the roof is melting on the east side and some on the south. No ice buildup yet and I do hear it dripping in the downspouts. The roof is still covered with 8-10 of snow.

I doubt that I will get through the thaw/freeze/thaw cycle without some ice build-up but we shall see. I am positive the venting of the roof has helped. At least as I compare my home to my neighbors. It certainly did its job through the hot summer heat. And it made a huge difference in the temp of the rooms on the second floor for both seasons.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:20 AM   #44
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Good thread.

Second I installed 2" X 16" x 4 rigid foam panels between the roof rafters and then blew in cellulose under those, 14" thick. Third, I cut in soffit vents all around the perimeter.
.
So if I understand correctly....you put up these panels between the rafters in a way that created a gap between the panel and the roof and then blew the cellulose into that gap??

You are touching on a thought that I had...which is...Even though my attic floor is pretty well insulated and I have decent ventilation....I COULD put some insulation in the roof too...to keep any heat in the attic from dissipating to the roof alternatively letting it vent out through the venting. Being as I have a furnace in my attic there is no amount of floor insulation that will eliminate attic heat in winter. Now all that being said....insulating the roof in addition to the floor (of course without blocking the venting) is not only expensive but in a way pointless because....at SOME point the snow WILL melt. doing all of the above will just slow the process down and not sure what degree of a "Fix" it would be for the ice damming and icicle issue anyway.
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:01 PM   #45
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So if I understand correctly....you put up these panels between the rafters in a way that created a gap between the panel and the roof and then blew the cellulose into that gap??
No, sorry I should have explained it better. I installed the W foam panels made specifically for creating an air space between the roof and insulation. You want to have air-flow, so no insulation.

The purpose of these are to make sure you don't block the air-flow when you stuff/blow insulation in the attic.

I know, clear as mud. I'll find a photo in a minute.






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Last edited by Shamus; 02-19-2010 at 12:08 PM.
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