CHICAGO, Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- If this winter is anything like the last 50, at some point you'll see a news story about ice buildup on a roof. And you'll hear the same tired solution about insulation in the attic, or ventilation, or heat wires for the eaves. Aside from the fact that you'll be bored yet again, there's another problem: it's all dead wrong.
Like many things in the homebuilding industry, ice buildup is misunderstood by consumers and professionals alike. Even the folks at the beloved 'This Old House' show are completely clueless - they recommend 'a rake with wheels' and 'panty hose filled with calcium chloride' as solutions that are nothing but Band-Aids and snake oil. The real solution is much simpler, and much less profitable for corporations who are trying to sell you stuff.
What 'This Old House' gets right is the cause of the ice buildup problem: first, the roof is warmed by the house below it, except at the eaves. Snow melts on the roof and drains down to the eave, where it refreezes. The common misunderstanding begins with HOW the house warms the roof surface.
Heat flows in three different ways: conduction (what insulation blocks), convection (air leakage), and radiation (felt from the sun or a bonfire). The main culprit in any ice dam situation is NOT the insulation - it's the air leakage. If you expend energy cooling off the roof surface or warming the eaves, you're not solving the root of the problem, and if you add more insulation, you're not doing anything at all- air flows right through insulation, as you can see in your furnace filter (which is made out of it).
Since warm air rises, all winter long the air in your home is trying desperately to push up into your attic or roof cavity, around light fixtures and through wall junctions, and a hundred other ways. So the easiest (and indeed, only) way to actually fix the problem for good is through air sealing.
First, have your home tested with a blower door for air leakage and for the attic's connection with the house: that's your 'before' picture. Then, an air sealing company (many of which are BPI-certified) will seal the floor of the attic, under the insulation, with spray foam and other sealants. Last and most importantly, the home will be tested again, and you can see proof that you got what you paid for in the 'after' picture.
Why won't you hear about this on TV or at your local home improvement store? Because there's no profit for the big corporations in telling you that the solution is not product-based. They want you to buy their products, use the electricity, and come back for more. If you actually fix the problem for good, they stop making money off you. To find a home performance company who can help you airseal a Midwestern attic, visit:
To see a video demonstration of attic air sealing, watch:
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO LOCATE A HOME PERFORMANCE PRO IN THE MIDWEST: http://ilenergyraters.org
Contact IAER Executive Director Corbett Lunsford, 773-271-5310
SOURCE The Illinois Association of Energy Raters