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Are Icicles a Sign of Poor Insulation?

Are Icicles a Sign of Poor Insulation?

As beautiful as some icicles can look, most homeowners don’t want them hanging from their roof.

For icicles to form, there first needs to be a bit of heat applied to the sitting snow and ice. Naturally, this causes the formation of liquid water. However, the ambient air causes the water to freeze right back into a solid again!

When this happens, it means that the heat is coming from somewhere besides the ambient air. This is usually the sun, or worst-case scenario, the inside of your house!

Icicles in Isolated Areas

If you notice icicles are forming in certain areas right around your door or directly above a window, this will give you a starting point to locate the area where heat is escaping.

Most often, your insulation has issues because it was disturbed for some reason. For instance, you might notice problems around a door where a spotlight or some speakers may have been installed. During the installation, you may have moved your insulation around.

Why Does It Matter?

In a word, money.

Making sure that your insulation is in good shape and covering all openings in the attic is the best way to make your home more efficient. When heat is escaping in the winter, this also means that cold air is escaping in the summer. You will undoubtedly pay more in heating and cooling costs. If all of this can be fixed by putting in a few pieces of insulation, wouldn’t that be worth it?

How to Make Your Attic More Energy Efficient

If you know that your attic is not as efficient as it could be, here are a few things you can do to help save some money on your electric bill.

Look for Gaps

You can start with the areas where you saw icicles forming. Go into your attic and see if the insulation has been pushed away in these areas. If it has, you can sometimes just push it back into place. Sometimes you may need to buy a few pieces to replace in a particular spot, but the good news is that this is a project that could take just a few minutes. In a pinch, you could even use crumpled up newspaper, packing peanuts, or old pillows.

Air Leaks

While in your attic working on the icicle spot, take a look around at some areas where there could be air leaks. The most common places to look are around light fixtures (unless you installed solar fixtures, in which case no drilling was required), around pipes or air ducts. If you happen to see that air is potentially coming in or out, then you should work on sealing these gaps. You can do this with insulation, and sometimes it makes sense to use caulk as well. 

Attic Fans

One way to help with your energy costs in the summer is by installing attic fans. Attic fans will help to draw hot air out of the house in the summertime. The only problem is that if your attic is not insulated correctly, you could end up pulling cold air out of the attic as well. You may want to have a professional do some efficiency testing in your attic before installing attic fans to make sure that it is the best route for your home. 

Attic Entryway

Since the attic entryway needs to be accessible, it is usually left without the proper amount of insulation. Make sure that the area is properly insulated. There are covers and shields that can be installed to help you with this process.

Should You Break Icicles Off Your Roof?

You may want to pull the icicles on your roof off, as they could be blocking access to your gutters. When access is blocked, the snow on your roof may not be able to adequately drain. When water backs up, you may end up with roof leaks.

You should definitely remove any major icicles you see, but you need to be careful while doing so. Icicles can be very sharp and heavy, and as they fall, you can hurt yourself. Make sure you are standing out of the way when you break icicles and pay very close attention to windows, outdoor lighting, and other breakable objects that may be lying underneath. 

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is, if you have icicles on your roof, it may be worth taking a trip up into the attic to see what is going on. If you find a problem and tend to it, you may be pleasantly surprised with an electric bill that is a bit easier to swallow. 

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