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Old 10-16-2012, 12:52 PM   #1
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


Hi, hopefully someone here will be able to point me in the right direction. I live in northern IL (near Rockford) and I am having issues with water infiltration into my house via my attic during large amounts of snowfall in the winter time, which is quite often. It is a relatively newer house, being built in 2006. It is a well constructed (seems to be anyways) 2 x 6 framed house and I have tried every possible way to stop these ice dams. Here's what I can tell you about he house:

-from what I can tell, the ice dams only occur on the north side which receives the least amount of sunlight.
-The attics are very well insulated with about 15-18" of blown in cellulose insulation.
-all soffits are vented around the entire home
-there are baffles installed in every other truss inside of the attic.
-the entire roof top has a ridge vent installed.
-there are 3 seperate roofs on the house. 1 over the garage, another over the main level and another over he second story.
-the only ice damming issues are over the unheated garage, and on he second story roof. These are also the only attics with access.
-supposedly anti-leak membrane was installed on the roof (per he construction papers)
-no recessed lighting is installed in the effected areas
-I have caulked around all penetrations from bathroom vents, and wires running into the attic.

So basically everything required to stop ice dams has been performed, but I'm still getting water infiltration and staining on my ceilings and upper walls. It's probably ruining my house. Please help! Thanks

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Last edited by Luelf21; 10-16-2012 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:59 PM   #2
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


Pictures of the locations and questions will help tremendously get a better idea of what is going on.

While proper insulation levels are important, insulation without air ceiling is only half of the problem. In order to properly mitigate the loss of heat from the living space you really must use air sealing techniques and they should eliminate about 95% of the ice dams that are formed normally.

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:08 PM   #3
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Windows on Wash View Post
Pictures of the locations and questions will help tremendously get a better idea of what is going on.

While proper insulation levels are important, insulation without air ceiling is only half of the problem. In order to properly mitigate the loss of heat from the living space you really must use air sealing techniques and they should eliminate about 95% of the ice dams that are formed normally.
I'll try to get pictures later, but a far as the techniques for air sealing...what are they? Also, how come the ice dams form over the unheated garage?
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:16 PM   #4
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


It has not even snowed or gotten to the point of sub-freezing temps, to cause these problems. First off, how old is the roof, has any changes been made to it since you have lived there, and have you maintained or inspected it on a regular basis since you have lived there.

If you are getting water intrusion in when it rains, that leads to a flashing issue, or rotted decking. That means it is time for a complete tear off to repair the decking, and then do it correctly. That means flashing at points where there are valley's, piping that exits the decks, proper air movement, with vents, grace at the first three feet up, 30# tar-felt paper, then shingles attached per manufacturer spec..
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:09 PM   #5
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


Icycles hanging from a facia/overhang are typically an indicator of warm air from the living space leaking into the attic (as WoW said above) and reaching the roof deck. air sealing is important to keep this from occuring.

things such as unsealed recessed can lights, small cracks at the wall-to-ceiling connection, penetrations through the ceiling, pipe or utility chases from living space to attic cause be sources of leakage.

check with your local utility company. in my area they will come out and perform a leakage test and offer "free" air sealing as part of their doing business. May be just a Massachusetts's requirement, but certainly worth a call.

Good luck!
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:34 PM   #6
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Ice dam problems and cannot find the cause.


I have had similar ice dam issues after getting my roof installed. Matter of fact, I am working on "air sealing" my attic space now (very time consuming and dirty DIY job).

My questions/suggestions (BTW, I am a homeowner/DIYer, NOT a professional so take what I say with a grain of salt):

1. As GB said, you probably have conditioned air getting into the attic space. It is interesting when you said ice dams occur with only those roofs with attic access. Do you have any kind of heat shield/insulation built to cover those access doors?

2. Ice dams are forming on the north side probably because colder air on the north side is mixing with your conditioned air from below. You probably have condensation issues as well. Have you checked your blown insulation to see if they are wet? How do your roofing deck (plywood) look? Are they black? If it is, you will also need to address some mold issues as well.

3. Was your roof replaced since 2006? If yes, were those baffles re-adjusted? In my case, roofer simply re-laid down my baffles too close to the fascia, which rendered them ineffective. On the contrary, if your baffles were positioned too high away from the exterior top plate, you could have those blown cellulose getting in to the soffit area, blocking your vents. I would pick a rafter or two and push insulation aside for closer inspection as well as pop one soffit vent off from the outside and check to make sure they are clear of blown insulation.

4. Air sealing is not hard, but I am finding it to be a back breaking (due to my attic height) and dirty (working with insulation even with high quality mask) but I think it will be worth the hassle. Rather than using caulk which can shrink over time, I would use Great Stuff (or some derivation). It also means removing all insulation between attic floor joists to apply foam to any gaps (between sheetrock and top plates) and holes (plumbing chase).

5. With three roofs, is it safe to assume that you have a gable roof? If yes, have you closed up all your gable vents? According to experts, a ridge vent should only be used with soffit vents to move air.

6. As far as your unheated garage is concerned, it shares a wall space with your main level? Mine was constructed with nothing more than a 2x4 studs with a very thin insulation tacked on with no other means of support (no sheetrock, plywood, etc.). I ended up insulating the wall with a higher R rated insulation and covered the entire wall with 2" XPS foamboad (I created 1/4" gap between joints so that I could apply Great Stuff for solid seal).

Hope this helps you out somewhat. I will post some pictures when I am done with my air sealing project.

Good luck

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