Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ice Dams and Energy Audits

It’s only -3F this morning. Harper got up, ate her breakfast and went back to sleep; she’s in no hurry to take a walk. Me neither. I’ve been walking and running in all kinds of weather so far this winter, but today I’m heading to the treadmill. Harper is good, and speedy. She’ll let me know when she needs to go out.

In front of the kitchen door we’ve got some huge icicles. As the icicles melt they form a puddle in front of the door, and then the puddle freezes, causing a small skating rink. Harper thinks it’s great fun to go skidding across the deck; me, not so much! 

The icicles are beautiful, and last year I took admiring pictures of them. This year they’re still beautiful, but they are worrisome. We know now that the icicles are a sign that we are developing ice dams on our roof. Ice dams can be a serious problem. As the snow builds up on your roof, the bottom layer of snow starts to melt. It drips down the roof, but unless it stays warm for more than a day or two, it refreezes, forming icicles. The snow behind the icicles also melts and refreezes, slowly backing up. If this goes on for very long the ice can get under the shingles, damaging the roof and potentially causing water to leak into the attic.

We’ve done enough research to recognize that the problem lies in our attic insulation. The attic should be cool, and to keep it cool there needs to be good insulation on the attic floor, so that the heat from the house doesn’t leak into the attic. We’re pretty sure we need more insulation, but we don’t know exactly how much. So, we’re going to get an energy audit.

Energy audits cost around $400, but they can save you lots of money in the end. Our heating bills this winter have been outrageous, and we keep the house fairly cool. We run the gas fireplace for a little while in the morning, and sometimes in the evening as well, but we close off the rooms we’re not using, and keep the bedrooms chilly during the day. I get cold sometimes, but drink lots of hot tea and that usually helps!

While we’re on the subject of keeping warm, I’ve discovered a product that is just amazing. For years and years I’ve used silk long underwear in really cold weather. I’ve always thought it was the best thing to wear; light, warm and it wicks moisture away from your skin. But a couple of weeks ago, Lee told me they were having a sale on a special type of wool sock at the mall, called Smartwool. I had never heard of it before, but I was in dire need of more warm socks, so off I went to investigate. I ended up buying a giftpack of three Smartwool socks on sale, and I also bought some Smartwool running tights.

I usually try to avoid wearing wool next to my skin. It itches terribly and makes me feel cranky and uncomfortable. But this stuff is incredible. It doesn’t itch at all; it’s warm; its lightweight; it REALLY wicks moisture, to the point where even if I run and get sweaty, it still stays dry. I actually went back to the mall yesterday and bought a Smartwool top as well.

So Harper and I will be staying warm today. We have our fire, we have tea, and we have the NFL football playoffs. It’s that kind of day.

1 comment:

  1. Wowzer Lynnie~Those are huge icicles! Dangerous to anything standing beneath them. You are made of stronger stuff then me! After 30+ years in a Zone 7 garden world there's no way I could adjust to ice damns, 2 foot of snow, minus degree weather or skating rinks on the patio! xxoogail



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