Icicles: Charming or Damaging?

Icicles are part of winter in Chicagoland. It’s easy to walk past them without paying any attention to them and letting them disappear into the background. But have you considered why icicles have formed at all? Could they be doing damage to your home?

What’s Going On:
Icicles form due to ice damming which is the accumulation of ice formed on soffits/gutters/lower roofs due to meltwater from snow. This snowmelt is often caused by heat loss from the house which melts the snow beneath the surface of a snowpack on a roof. As the meltwater reaches the edge and is re-exposed to sub-freezing temperatures the result is icicle formation.

Heat loss can have a few sources but one of the main culprits is poor insulation in the attic. Climate-controlled heated air from the living space can work its way into the attic via conduction, confection, or through small void spaces in ceilings (think light fixtures). This warm air can cause snow to melt as mentioned previously and dammed water can sit on your roof between snow and the ice damn.

Why It’s A Problem:
As that water sits on your roof there is potential for that moisture to work its way into your home possibly causing damage to walls, ceilings, roof structures, insulation, and even cause mold. Additionally, heavy icicles can pull gutters off/away from soffits and damage exterior roof components. Rarely, but possible, icicles can also fall off your home as temps heat up causing damage to property or even injuring someone.

What To Do:
To correct this problem, you’ll need to determine how warm air is getting into your attic. If lack of insulation is the problem the fix is usually adding an adequate amount of insulation. If your attic is already sufficiently insulated there are additional methods of remediation such as heated coil systems that can be installed on the lower portion of the roof that can actively heat the problem spots. It’s always a good idea to get help from a professional who can ensure you’re addressing the problem in the most appropriate way.

The Importance Of A Quality Home Inspection:
Castle Home Inspection professionals know to look out for the signs and symptoms of problems caused by ice damning. If you’re buying a new home and are getting an inspection rest assured that if we see evidence of current or past issues we’ll let you know in your inspection report.

Need an inspection? You can book one with us 24/7 at www.castleinspectors.com

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