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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    36

    Default Icicles/ice dams

    Hello!

    My house, built in 1957, is the only on the blck that has a lot of ice dams/icicles. Why? It has always been this way, regardless of how new the roof or gutters/gutter guards are, currently 5-7 years. There is a big collection of icicles above the garage where the house and garage overlap, which has resulted in an occasional leak through the roof in the garage. Someone said that icicles indicate clogged gutters or the need for insulation. If gutters are the problem, how do I clean them ones with mesh gutter guards? I've considered estimates on insulation. What about an attic fan? I'm not sure if my attic is high enough to install one. (The entry to the attic is a very small opening in my closet.) What should I do first to fix the ice dam/icicle problem? I'm on a disability, and can't afford to pay a lot. Also, I'm afraid that an insulation/roofing expert will try to rip me off. Any help you can give me will be appreciated.
    Last edited by Toody; 01-15-2009 at 03:13 PM. Reason: Had to add year of house.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Icicles/ice dams

    Quote Originally Posted by Toody View Post
    Hello!

    My house, built in 1957, is the only on the blck that has a lot of ice dams/icicles. Why? It has always been this way, regardless of how new the roof or gutters/gutter guards are, currently 5-7 years. There is a big collection of icicles above the garage where the house and garage overlap, which has resulted in an occasional leak through the roof in the garage. Someone said that icicles indicate clogged gutters or the need for insulation. If gutters are the problem, how do I clean them ones with mesh gutter guards? I've considered estimates on insulation. What about an attic fan? I'm not sure if my attic is high enough to install one. (The entry to the attic is a very small opening in my closet.) What should I do first to fix the ice dam/icicle problem? I'm on a disability, and can't afford to pay a lot. Also, I'm afraid that an insulation/roofing expert will try to rip me off. Any help you can give me will be appreciated.
    gutter guards are notorious for causing icecycle problems the bumper they create usually creates a dam in and of themselves, add that to cold temps, ice and snow on the roof and issues.

    back in the old days attics weren't well insulated, roofs were warm (snow quickly melt) and to prevent ice dams and icecycles folks had to get out and almost fanatically rake their roofs from every snowfall, if they had gutters this even more important because the melting snow/ice would collect in gutters which would freeze, and the weight of the ice and icecycles could tear the gutters off.

    proper ventillation system for the attic roof deck, insulation keeping the heat from the house isolated, regarding the leaks getting them fixed, valleys flashed right, eaves ice and water dam shield up past the outside wall junction, all things that could need addressing couldn't know from here.

    Saw from your kitchen drain string you said you were in Michigan. Seems I saw from the weather reports that you are experiencing really cold temps and an arctic express so you're probably in the most extreme situation.

    You didn't say what your roof is like, for example asphalt tab shingles, the age of it, the slope, etc. one of the most likely places needing attention would be isolating, draft blocking and insulating wall plates from the attic zone and if the eaves were designed to be open or not (and if they've since been restricted or closed).

    buildingscience.com has a really good website with good articles on insulation, isolation, roof ventillation techniques depending on your construction type, materials, and your exact region (michigan UP or LP).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Icicles/ice dams

    Thanks for your reply!

    As stated, my house was built in 1957, and the roof, gutters and gutter guards are 5-7 years old. The roof is asphalt tabbing. There appears to be 2-4 vents on the roof. See attached picture for shape of roof. (I hope it's clear enough. Please note that some of the icicles were knocked off, but they were the longes by the front door.)

    Thank you for the website too!!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Icicles/ice dams

    Looks to be pretty low sloped hipped roof, should be easy to rake the snow off. However, I caution you against knocking off the icecycles, doing so may actually cause damage. You could purchase some ready made socks stuffed with low temperature icemelt pellets or make your own out of pantyhose and low temperature ice melt (not containing any rock salt) to temporarily help in the worst areas.

    Looks like the eaves were enclosed with some sort of panels if they're punched they may be restricting air flow too much. were they replacing other material or just applied overtop?

    You have a very bad design problem with the overhanging eave from the house with gutter which overhangs the garage roof. Is that is the area were you are having the worst icedam and leak problem? If that area builds up significantly and refreezes the ice could possibly lift up against the overhanging eave and do some damage to the roof structure above.

    P.S. I think you might be confusing plumbing vents and exaust vents, and chimneys which "vent" things from the house, with attic ventillation - not the same thing. I don't see any attic ventillation vents, mechanical or otherwise in your picutres. I suspect your original home's design was to have open eave venting and this has been obstructed either intentionally or accidentially. With such a low slope hipped roof I would avoid ridge or rafter venting - wouldn't be effective in winter and be subject to driving rain in other seasons.
    Last edited by Blue RidgeParkway; 01-15-2009 at 04:37 PM. Reason: p.s.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Icicles/ice dams

    Hello again! I looked on the invoice from the roofing company. It appears that they replaced and installed roof vents, installed 6ft of ice and water shield around complet house, and aluminum drip edge, among other things.

    Are you referring to the white sections spaced throughout the eaves? That was installed at the same time my mother had new eaves put in many years ago. (That was supposed to help with "breathing," according to my mother.) That's all I know about that. What do you mean by "if they're punched, they may be reducing air flow?" What should I do about them?

    Yes, the area by the garage is where I'm having the most leakage/damming problem.

    Regarding the socks with slow melt ice pellets. Where/how should they be placed? Also, what kind of snow rake do you recommend?

    Thank you so much for your help and patience.

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