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.

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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).

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 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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November 14, 2008

:319 Eave Ventilation

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.

1:5:10:319 EcoTip: Insulation in eaves needs to be present to save energy loss and prevent ice dams from forming in areas with snow. If not properly installed the insulation can block the eave vents and prevent proper ventilation of the attic. The following illustration shows one way of insulating while allowing attic ventilation through the eave vents and helping to prevent ice dams from forming.

 185-eave-vent1

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :317, :318

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November 13, 2008

:318 Predict Ice Dams

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.

1:5:10:318 EcoTip: Thermal imaging can be used to predict locations on the roof where ice dams are likely to form. The thermal imaging camera is used to locate hot spots. These represent the areas where snow will melt. If the melted snow has to run down an area of roof where the water will refreeze, then the formation of an ice dam becomes more likely.

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Courtesy of MoistureView.com

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :313, :317

The large blue area in the thermal image above represents a cold area with missing insulation where the attic eave vent is located. The heat from the house will escape upwards warming the underside of the roof. If snow is present the extra warmth may cause it to melt and run down the roof onto the cold overhang. If conditions are right the water will refreeze and form a dam that prevents subsequent water flowing downward from draining off the roof. This water can then migrate into the home. This thermal image can be used to predict that water from any ice dam that forms from this missing insulation is more likely to drain down into the wall cavity causing damage.

Tomorrow’s 1:5:10:365 EcoTip will show how this eave area could be insulated and ventilated at the same time.

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