Have you ever noticed icicles hanging from your roof after a heavy snowstorm? They may have a charming look, but the thawing and refreezing that must occur to form icicles could be a warning sign that you have an ice dam on your roof.
An ice dam is when a ridge of ice along the eaves prevents melted water from draining. Shingles are designed to guide water off the roof, not handle pools of water for prolonged periods of time. The accumulated water can seep under the shingles and into your home, causing damaged attic insulation, sagging ceilings, peeling paint and buckled wood floors.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent ice dams so you can avoid damaging your home this winter. Just follow these tips from Mooney & Moses Insulation.
Ventilate the Attic
Ice dams form when the warm attic heats the roof from below. Therefore, ventilation is a critical component in preventing ice dams. With soffit vents at the eaves and a ridge vent at the crest of the roof, passive ventilation brings in outdoor air to keep the attic cool. You know you have adequate ventilation if there’s one square foot of vents for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Make sure the vents feature baffles to prevent insulation from covering the openings.
Seal Attic Floor Penetrations
Electrical wiring, vent pipes, plumbing and other attic floor penetrations leak warm, humid air from your home into the attic. Seal small openings with caulk and larger gaps with spray foam. Don’t forget to seal the attic hatch with weatherstripping as well.
Insulate the Attic
After sealing any holes in the floor, add a thick layer of attic insulation. The type you choose—which might include fiberglass or cellulose—determines the thickness required to achieve the recommended R-value, or thermal resistance value. Mooney & Moses Insulation will make sure you choose the best material for your budget and insulating needs.
Seal & Insulate Ductwork Running Through the Attic
If possible, install ductwork somewhere other than the attic. When there’s no other option, make sure you seal gaps and cracks with duct mastic. Then, insulate the ductwork to prevent heat loss from entering the attic and causing ice dams. One option is to install R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass insulation around the ductwork. We’ll assist with this task to ensure it’s completed safely and thoroughly.
Exhaust Warm Air to the Exterior
Your home features kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and a dryer vent. These are designed to exhaust hot, humid air out of your home. Sometimes, the vents lead to the attic, where they heat the space and cause ice dams to form. Ask a Mooney & Moses Insulation team member to check the location of exhaust vents during an attic inspection.
Replace Old Can Lights
If you have the old style of recessed light fixtures installed on the upper floor of your home, consider replacing them. Old can lights waste a lot of heat, which goes straight into the attic because you can’t insulate the lights without creating a fire hazard. Sealed IC-rated recessed lights are safer and allow insulation to touch the fixture.
Get Help Preventing Ice Dams this Winter
With help from a professional home insulation company like Mooney & Moses, you can get your attic all set for winter. We’ll assist you with attic ventilation, air sealing and insulation—not only to prevent ice dams but also to make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient all year round.