icicle problem


Old 12-28-01, 10:32 PM
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icicle problem

I recently purchased an 82 year old 3-unit home. The main unit consists of the main floor and basement and is heated by a basement furnace. The 2nd and 3rd units are in the upstairs and are heated by a seperate furnace which resides in the walk-up attic directly above them.
The attic is used for storage and has plank flooring. The attic also has windows on three sides of it.
The attic has no insulation in the rafters. There is just some old gray insulation that is under and around the floor boards.

Now that I have given you all the information I can I will get to the question.

I live in West Michigan--7 days ago we virtually had no snow. Now we have 3 feet of snow. In that short time some huge clusters of icicles have formed on the roof. One of them is 10-15 feet in length.
1)What should I do immediately to remove the icicles to protect my family and tenants?
2)How can I prevent this from happening again; what insulation product(s) do I need to install?

Thank you very much for your time!
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Old 12-29-01, 08:12 AM
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What caused the icicles is known as ice damming. This is when the temperature in the attic is above 32 degrees F. and you have snow on your roof. The high temp. in your attic causes the snow to melt from underneath the snow. The melted snow goes down your roof and re-freezes because of the snow on top of it. This is what forms the iciles.

What's causing it is the heat from the heating systems you have in the attic. The best way to handle it is to build a room around the systems and insulate the room. You will probably need a louver door for the room to provide for air. This will make the attic cold enough to avoid the ice damming effect.
Old 12-31-01, 07:49 PM
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Icicle problem

My mountain cabin has a dropped ceiling and a wood stove. Although there is insulation over the dropped ceiling there is not any over the flourescent drop lights. The heat escapes through the 2x4 lights into the attic space and the icicles are 6 feet long around the cabin iif I am there during a heavy snow. It looks like what everyone is trying to achieve with the cascade Christmas lights. One of these days when I win the lottery I will correct the problem. The issue here is that heat is escaping through the roof and melting the snow and ice to form the icicles.
Old 01-01-02, 12:18 PM
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Over twenty years ago, I had a cabin in the mountains. My wife went up there to clean the place one weekend before we were scheduled to spend a week. She sat down at the table when she got there and looked across the room and saw a racoon staring at her. I really liked that cabin.

Most cabins don't use insulation. In fact, the cabin was probably designed not to have insulation. Over the years people started spending more time there and began insulating them. If you were to take down the drop ceiling and insulation, you would probably not have an icicle problem. The heat from the cabin would melt the snow as it fell on the roof.

When the insulation was installed, it made the roof cool enough not to melt the snow immediately, but still warm enough to melt it slowly. Because that what insulation does, it slows down the heat loss in the home. It cannot stop it. The way to overcome this problem with insulation is attic ventilation. If you look at a 70 year old house, when they did not use insulation, the house was not designed or built with attic vents. Because there was no need for it. It wasn't until we started putting in insulation in homes when attic ventilation was determined to resolve problems in attics concerning moisture.

It's true that the drop flourescent light is allowing heat to hit the surface underneath the roof and is melting the snow. You could box in above the light and insulate over it. Considering the aforementioned, your icicle problem would not go away unless you vented the attic space.
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