February 2, 2014

As a child, I used to be fascinated by the large icicles hanging along the eaves of the houses in my neighborhood.  In fact, I thought they were a thing of beauty. As an adult and a building science professional, I now know that while these may look beautiful on your house, they spell trouble!

That's because the same conditions that allow icicles to form—snow-covered roofs and freezing weather—also can lead to ice dams: thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves. Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. When that happens, the results aren't pretty: peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. Not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which loses R-value and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.

In the Philadelphia area, we seldom see the snow depths that cause all of the above described damage (except in the winter of 2009/2010 when the Philadelphia area received a record 78 inches of snow) but we do get weather cold enough to develop large icicles. These icicles indicate warm air escaping the interior of the house and may result in the potential of moisture entering attics (possible mold and mildew development as a result) or damage to exterior parts of the house such as gutters, trim, and siding.

comprehensive energy assessment by a Building Performance Institute (BPI)-certified building analyst can help identify the causes of these beautiful/trouble making icicles and help develop a plan to fix your house’s potentially damaging situation. An energy assessment will also detect any other issues that are keeping your home from performing at its best. Making energy efficient home improvements will not only increase the comfort of your home but can decrease the amount of your energy bills!

Contact Orange Energy Solutions to speak to a professional about setting up your home energy assessment. And, if you live in Philadelphia, be sure to ask about the PGW EnergySense Home Rebates Program to learn how you can save even more money!

- John Kelly, Principal, Orange Energy Solutions