Icicles Can Bring Chilling Costs To Your Heating Bill – On the House

Icicles Can Bring Chilling Costs To Your Heating Bill

By on February 14, 2014
icicles and heat loss

Many of us get to see the coldest part of the season represented by beautiful strings of icicles fanned out along deck rails and roof overhangs. These are visual reminders of how important our heating systems are in keeping a comfortable temperature inside our homes. So, if you have a furnace, make sure that it gets serviced by a furnace repair technician regularly. Look for local heating contractors to service your heating system and make sure it is up to the task of providing a comfortable temperature in your home.

But there is a side to these magnificent creations of nature that we need to more clearly understand, so that we can continue to enjoy them without experiencing the great cost that often is a “silent partner” in their formation.

There are actually three reasons why roof snow melts, other than nature:

–Poor attic ventilation.

When attic ventilation ports are blocked, warm air is held inside the attic and the heated air can cause roof snow to melt. When the water hits the overhang, it is instantly cooled and can turn into both ice dams and icicles. Although ice dams cannot be seen, they can build up to the point where future runoff is diverted back into the attic and finally into the home. This can cause substantial damage.

–Air leaks between the house and the attic.

Air leaks from the home also can heat up the attic. The leaks usually occur at penetrations where electrical wires, plumbing pipes and heating ducts and flues traverse from living space into the attic. Even with the best attic ventilation, this warm air can raise the attic temperature enough to melt the coldest snow. Today’s building practices involve sealing these penetrations as a standard procedure. However, older homes were not managed in the same way, and major leaks may exist.

–Poor ceiling insulation.

Poor ceiling insulation is another of the most common reasons why heated air escapes from the home into the attic. Gaps in the insulation can allow heat to pass. Also, old insulation that has packed or compressed can allow great amounts of heat to penetrate that layer of insulation.

By cooling down the attic you can solve two major problems: winter water leaks and energy waste.

Both of the problems can literally equate into thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense. And don’t forget your own personal comfort. No one likes a home filled with drafts, chills or hot spots.

Many folks believe it is a good idea to seal roof vents during winter months. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is extremely important the attic be properly ventilated all year long. If the insulation in the ceiling is properly installed, then proper attic ventilation will not have a negative impact on the inside of the home.

Keep in mind that proper insulation includes sealing all penetrations. These can be hard to find beneath a thick layer of insulation, but telltale pipes, wires and ducts from below are dead giveaways.

Expanding spray foam in a can is the best way to properly seal these penetrations. Although stuffing insulation (or most anything) into the holes can help, nothing is more effective than expanding foam. It’s inexpensive to purchase, extremely forgiving during installation and results in a most permanent seal.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? The air from within the home must be prevented from getting into the attic, but the air from outside should be allowed to pass freely. It really is important for your attic to be properly ventilated. To ensure that this is the case, check all the vents at the eaves — from within the attic — and make sure there is clearance between each eave vent and the attic insulation.

Special cardboard baffles can be placed in the attic near the vents to hold insulation back. The baffles are normally held in place with staples, but you also can use nails or screws if you prefer.

It may difficult to decide to climb up into the attic — especially now that it is so cold outside. However, if there is even the slightest bit of warmth in your attic, it could cost you big time this winter.

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