Today’s icicles are tomorrows ice dams!

Take care of the symptoms today and correct the real problem tomorrow.

I’m enjoying the winter wonderland on display on all the homes I see, where beautiful and massive icicles hang from their roofs. Too bad Christmas is over; homeowners could have saved a lot of money with the real deal instead of putting up store-bought icicles. On a more serious note, those icicles are tomorrow’s ice dams, and, as they say, they are just the tip of the iceberg.

The short-term and necessary fix is to work on the symptoms by chipping the ice off your roof. Once that is done, you need to work towards preventing the icicles from forming in the first place.

The heat in your house is causing the ice build-up, so your first step is to identify how that heat is escaping from your living space, which melts the snow and causes the icicles and ice dams.

Heat loss starts in your basement and gains momentum as it travels up your interior walls and exits out in your attic. A well-ventilated attic will help dissipate this heat, but most New England homes are not ventilated well enough (1 square foot for every 300 square feet of attic floor). And almost all homes allow too much heat into the attic space. Ice can also form on the inside of your attic roof causing water damage when the attic warms up. An energy audit can help you determine the energy improvements you need to make to prevent an ice buildup on your roof and keep all the heat inside the house where it belongs. You’ll be warmer and you’ll have more time to do the things that you like, rather than spending your time chipping ice.

— Bob Tortorice has over 30 years of green building experience. He is the owner of Building Alternatives, Inc. and Alternative Energy Audits in Franconia.