Icicles and Attic Insulation

What Can Icicles On My Roof Tell Me About My Home's Energy Efficiency?

During the winter, as you’re driving around, take a look at some of the homes in your neighborhood. If you’re in a neighborhood with many new built homes pay close attention to a neighborhood with older homes, and vice versa. 

Take a look at the eaves and soffits on the roofs. Why do some homes have icicles hanging from their roofs, while others have none? Do older homes generally have more icicles than new ones? Are some icicles on homes larger than others? 

The simple answer to these questions is insulation, particularly attic insulation. At its most basic, homes with adequate insulation have few to no icicles, and homes with less insulation have more icicles and bigger ones. 

How does this happen? When hot air is able to escape out of the roof of your home, it melts tiny amounts of the snow and ice on the roof in wintertime. This liquid water slowly makes its way down to the edge of the roof, where no longer supplied with heat from inside, it freezes once again into icicles, like a stalactite in a cave. 

Although icicles are far from the only way to tell, and even if you don't have them you may still have a problem. However, if your home has icicles, it is likely not as energy efficient as it should be. This costs you money through heat loss and ice damage to your roof.

Do I Have Enough Insulation In My Attic? 

These icicles are not only a symptom of a problem, they are a problem themselves. Because water expands when it freezes, water runoff from an under insulated attic can become trapped and freeze, damaging roofing and other materials like shingles and gutters. 

Icicles are a good indicator that a home needs more insulation, but even homes with no icicles may need insulation added. In the lower part of Michigan, zone 5, your attic insulation should have an r value of 38-60. This means you need insulation about 16-18 inches deep. 

The vast majority of homes in lower Michigan don’t have anywhere near enough insulation. As an educated guess, from decades in this business, we would wager that at least two thirds of homes that we see have inadequate insulation in the attic and walls. They likely need insulation in other important areas like the crawlspace and sill plate as well.

It’s likely your home doesn’t have enough insulation. But how do you know? 

How Can I Find Out if I Have Enough Insulation In My Attic?

One way to check is to get up in the attic with a tape measure and take a look. But this is going to be dirty, not fun, and potentially hazardous to your health. 

We, however, are happy to do it for you. And we can even do one better: We'll perform a free home energy audit to scientifically assess where your home is losing heat (or cool air in the summer) and how we can save you money on home heating bills. Addressing these issues takes care of fringe issues, like icicles on your home.

Again, these home energy audits are absolutely free, take just a few hours, use hi-tech equipment not readily available to homeowners, and tell you just where you can get the most bang for your home improvement buck. These improvements— like increased attic insulation— often pay for themselves over the life of the material, making them an excellent and near universally lauded investment. 

Give us a call today to schedule your free in-home consultation. We’ll send a technician to your home at a time that is convenient for you. If you would like we can perform a comprehensive home energy audit, that will show where you are losing valuable energy dollars.