If you live in an area that gets dramatic temperature changes like we do in the Chicago area, then you will love this article.  I’m sure you have seen winter pictures from Norman Rockwell that shows large icicles hanging from the soffits of a home covered by snow?  These icicles are also known as Ice damming and can cause very expensive damage to the roofs structure.

Recently, when performing a home inspection in La Grange, Illinois as I pulled up to the home I immediately realized that there were possible issues with the attic space of this home.  Attics of a home can have many issues that can be inexpressive to repair, but if not repaired can cost thousands from domino repairs.  You can see a sample of a video we shot while inspecting a home in La Grange at ~ Attic inspection.

The home in La Grange that I was about to inspect had icicles hanging down from the eves.  Every home can have icicles hanging from the perimeter of the homes roof, but this home had icicles that were 4′ long with ice damming around the whole roof.  Ice damming can occur from 1 of 2 issues or both can contribute to the problem.

  • Poor roof ventilation ~ Poor roofing ventilation is probably the biggest problem contributing to ice damming on a roof that can destroy roof shingles and cause water from the roof to enter the home.   Adding more roof vents or an attic fan to an attic can help with this issue.  The installation of additional roof vents and or an attic fan can be a great start to eliminate ice damming on the roof of your home.
  •  Little or no attic insulation~ I personally believe that the lack of the proper amount of insulation in an attic can cause ice damming to develop quicker.  Generally, I see that when ice damming is occurring that both attic vents need to be added and the depth of the attic insulation needs to be added to.  Attic insulation can be blown in fiberglass or rolled in fiberglass and should be a minimum of 15″ deep.  This depth of insulation will prevent the hot air of your home to seep up into the attic and cause the snow on the roof to melt and then freeze on the soffits.

Ice damming occurred at the La Grange home inspection through warm air from the bedroom escaping into the attic through ceiling light fixture of the bedroom because there was no insulation in the attic.  The temperature of the attic was 58 degrees.  The attic temperature was warmer that the 18 degrees temperature on the exterior of the home.  This caused the snow to melt and go through a freeze/thaw cycle.

Generally, I see damage to the roofing shingles when ice damming occurs.  Luckily, for my clients from the La Grange home inspection there was no damage.  We have an area that you can get an  idea of repair costs for ice damming at ~ ice damming repair costs.  So when you see those icicles hanging from your eve they might be more than just icicles.

If you have further questions about ice damming or another problem you might be having on your property then please contact me at ~ The Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe.

Jim Kolke

The Thermal Home Inspector

Leave a Reply