A fun tale of how we spent a lot of money solving the wrong problem (because we hadn't yet engaged a home energy professional.)

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Comment by Robert Riversong on October 11, 2012 at 4:57pm

A common misperception is that gutters cause ice dams, when the reality is that gutters are victims of ice dams.

Ice dams are caused by heat (or warm air) at the underside of the roof deck, melting of the snow on the roof, and refreezing of the meltwater as it runs down to a colder roof area (typically the overhang).

Ice dams are exacerbated by insufficient ceiling/roof insulation (particularly in slant ceilings), thermal bypasses or air leakage (such as unsealed interior soffits or kneewalls), heat sources in ceilings or attics (can lights, ducts, appliances), and architectural features such as valleys and dormers and chimneys (particularly when those all intersect in the same area, as with this house).

Ice dams are cured (or prevented at the design stage) by good ceiling insulation, good air sealing, elimination of ceiling penetrations and particularly of heat sources such as can lights, and good continuous bottom to top roof ventilation with soffit strip and ridge vents (with exterior air baffles to prevent infiltration of rain or snow). Avoiding valleys when designing a house or addition, or proximity of valleys and dormers, and chimneys in valleys is smart preventative design.

Comment by Peter Troast on June 8, 2011 at 4:29pm

Thank you all for the nice comments. Back story is this was inspired by a certain high ranking state official in Maine who stood up in a roomful of home energy pros and said "home performance isn't rocket science." That, well, torqued me off. 

 

Since we shot the video, we've completed a comprehensive air sealing and dense pack retrofit that reduced our air leakage by 35%. Early still, but for the three winter months before and after the job, our oil consumption went from 105 gallons per month to 59. Like so many, we've since learned how uncomfortable the upstairs of our house was before the work, which we rationalized for 15 years as a preference for sleeping in cool rooms.

 

This is just phase 2 for us on the path to deep, but we've made significant progress on all the issues in the video, and big progress on the ice dam challenges even in the huge snow year we had this year. But Peter Krych's comment is correct: it's a big valley that collects a lot of snow. So I remain a dutiful roof raker.

 

This time of year we're focused most on how to keep the house naturally cool, without air conditioning, minimizing electric load of fans, and not filling the place up to the gunnels with pollen. ;-)  

Comment by Ron Lessard on June 6, 2011 at 11:19pm
Great video!! Proves once again do your analysis and homework. Reminds me a problem one of my neighbors had where the siding was up against the soffit causing a leak inside the home that was 5' to 6' feet from the source. It only took 4 years and several hundred dollars of inside repair before the source of the problem was discovered.
Comment by Ben Cichowski on June 6, 2011 at 4:09pm
Very well done - quick, easy to follow, clearly messaged, and fun.
Comment by Peter Krych on June 6, 2011 at 1:23pm
The picture of the roof at 1:44 seconds into the video shows snow towards the peak of the roof that has undergone some melting probably due to heat from the interior, slanted ceilings most likely. I'm sure the lighting retrofit will have a positive impact  but with this style of construction it will be tough to eliminate the ice dam. Don't sell your roof rake yet.
Comment by Allison A. Bailes III on June 6, 2011 at 1:10pm
Love the video, Peter! Now all you need is Guy Pearce tattooing messages to himself all over his body as you work your way back to the problem.
Comment by Timothy Fisher on June 6, 2011 at 11:26am
Great video. It shows that simple cost effective measures can solve problems if the right person is contacted to begin with.
Comment by Ed Voytovich on June 6, 2011 at 11:23am

The "gutter bypass" definitely makes my list of the top 25 hilariously misconceived solutions for 2011.  And let me tell you:  the competition is fierce!

 

Comment by Greg Labbe on June 6, 2011 at 11:05am

I'm sure many of us lost the equivalent of a ski vacation because of a hasty investigation.Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

Thank you, your video was poetic, brilliantly edited and natrated: two thumbs up!

Comment by Kent Mitchell on June 6, 2011 at 10:58am
Hahaha  funny but kinda sad at the same time!  Well done video!

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