1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

January 28, 2009

2009 Ice Storms

Here we go again. over a million people are without power due to ice storms across the Midwest stretching down into Texas. Ice storms are a huge problem for buildings constructed in areas where they are not common.

One of the things that is happening is warmer temperatures in the outer atmosphere mean there is more moisture. When this moisture condenses it begins to fall as rain. If surface conditions are below freezing, the rain drops freeze and become ice. When upper atmosphere temperatures are cold the water falls as snow not rain. Snow is less damaging since it weighs about 1/10th as much as ice.

In addition to the power outages – we should anticipate an increase in building roof collapses. Steeper sloped roofs are better equipped to deal with this extreme weather where at least some of the ice will generally slide off. Flat roofs tend to accumulate the ice and are more likely to collapse from the load.

Some areas have been reported to already have about 6 inches of ice with another 6 inches potentially falling in the next 24 hours. Twelve inches of ice on a roof weighs about 60 pounds. That is a huge amount of weight for a roof since many roofs in areas that are not commonly exposed to the weight from ice and snow have been built to hold a minimum of twenty pounds. 

We should also anticipate problems with frozen plumbing and ice dams.

For more information about these topics type the following key words into the search engine for this site (right hand column) do one search at a time: ice dam, plumbing, thermal imaging, roof, can light, frozen.


If you need help with damage – the  IICRC is the place to go for a referral to a specialist in these types of problems. The following is from their web-site:

The IICRC is a nationally accredited, non-profit certification body that works to protect consumers from deceptive and unreliable companies in the cleaning, restoration and inspection industry. IICRC-Certified Firms and Technicians must meet the highest industry standards to maintain their good standing.

IICRC offers water and flood damage tips at http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/ts_tips_advice.shtml you can use their directory search to help find a certified firm or call 1-800-835-4624.

John Banta is the author of Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Our Buildings from Climate Change.

December 27, 2008

:362 Attic Ice

Filed under: :362 Attic Ice — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:08 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:362 EcoTip: Winter is a good time to check for attic ice. If it is not coming from leaks or ice dams then there must be excessive moisture coming into the attic from somewhere that is freezing on the cold underside of the roof. It may be that the attic ventilation is inadequate, but is also very likely that a moisture source is releasing moisture into the attic. Double check bathroom, laundry and kitchen vents to be sure they are dumping moisture laden air outside and not into the attic. The air infiltration sealing techniques discussed elsewhere in this blog may also help (search term infiltration).


 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

I inspected one home that was having problems with ice forming in the attic then melting onto the ceiling and walls when the days began to warm. The problem had suddenly developed one year. It turned out that a plumber had pulled the vapor barrier off the soil in the crawlspace to work on the septic line, and had not replace the barrier. The excess moisture coming off the soil was able to infiltrate all the way up through the house into the attic and was  sufficient to cause the problem to develop. Replacing the plastic barrier on the soil solved the problem.

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