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Architecture & Ice Dams

16 February 2019

Our team answers homeowner questions every weekend on WCCO 830 AM from 9:00 am-10:00 am.  Have your most pressing home improvement questions answered by calling 651-989-9226 or texting 81807.  Here’s the must-know information our COO, Andy Lindus, shared on 2.16.19.

Ice dam growth on a home’s roof can prove problematic because it’s only a matter of time before attic insulation and drywall become saturated with water.  Removal of the ice dam should be entrusted to a reputable professional that starts by clearing away snow from the roof and then utilizes low pressure steaming.  This method separates the standing water behind the ice and dam to separate itself from the roof’s shingles.  Chipping away at the ice with sharp tools not only does not solve the problem, but can actually void your roof’s warranty.  Heat tape may temporarily ward off the issue, but the only true fix is the proper combination of insulation, ventilation, and attic air sealing.  Lean on a reputable contractor that can perform diagnostic testing, with tools like FLIR imaging and a blower door.  This allows them to pinpoint the exact areas your home is losing energy.  From there, they can create a customized, long-term plan.

Here’s How a Contractor Can Use a Blower Door Test to Evaluate Your Home’s Energy Efficiency:

House Configuration & Ice Dams

From an insulation standpoint, homes with vaulted ceilings can prove challenging.  Oftentimes, owners with these type of homes experience rampant ice dams.  The good news?  There is a permanent fix, but it does come at a cost.  The first step is removing the roof deck and installing THERMAX™ boxes over the can lights and seal them up with spray foam.  Next the can lights are dense packed with cellulose, creating a hot roof.  Hot roofs do not have ventilation but are completely full of spray foam and cellulose insulation.  This combination which seals up any rising air within the home, which is the root cause of an ice dam. After these steps have been completed, the roof deck is put back on.  Then 1’x4’ strips are added followed by another roof deck. Next, a fascia vent is added to create a barrier of air between the roof deck, cellulose, spray foam, and the ceiling.  Any heat escape is up and out the roof ridge before it has the chance to melt any snow.

When adding onto your home’s existing footprint, it’s vital to work with a contractor that understands proper insulation, ventilation, and attic air sealing so that the transition from the old house to a new home is a smooth one.  An incorrect combination of these items can cause attic frost to form from hot air rising and mixing with cold air within the attic.  Attic frost becomes problematic when it melts because it can ruin a home’s insulation and drywall.

Why Spray Foam Insulation?

This material is a combination of resin and chemicals such as polyurethane & isocyanates.  The material expands upon application and can be trimmed back if necessary.  Homeowners must vacate the property during the time the insulation cures and it does have some installation temperature restrictions other types of insulation do not have.  However, it is considered the best insulation type for home resale because of its energy efficient properties.  Moisture is unable to penetrate it, making it resistant to mold.

Listen to the Entire Show Here:

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