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We finally have a traditional midwestern winter…

Icicles may be telling you something very important about your home.

Our recent temperatures have been well below freezing the past couple weeks. Take a walk around the outside of your home. If you see a fair number of icicles hanging from your gutters it is signaling that you do not have enough insulation in your attic.

Intuitively, our cold temperatures should tell you that nothing should be melting right now. But you see icicles so what’s happening?

Heat is escaping from inside of your home through your ceilings and into your attic. Once it warms the attic; even a little, it warms the inside of your roof causing the layer of snow sitting on your shingles to melt. This water runs down the roof. You do not see it because the cold outside air temperatures keep the snow you see on your roof frozen. But that layer of snow sitting on shingles is melting and the water is running down your roof. It is invisible until the water hits your soffits and gutters, where it re-freezes and forms an icicle.

Depending on your roof’s condition and the condition of your flashings, some of this water can back up into your home.

Roofs can be peculiar. Sometimes the amount of water running down your roof is so strong, this water will back up and run up hill against the shingles. You probably guess what happens next. The water enters your home and damages your ceiling, walls, maybe your floors, etc. So what do you do?

Once the icicles are there you have few options. And perhaps we should emphasize – you have a few safe options. First it tells you to add insulation to your attic. Second, next Fall, lay some heated gutter cable in the gutters. Doing so will stop the melted roof snow from backing up and from forming icicles. It will allow the gutter to drain much as it does during a summer rain. Please don’t take a ladder and climb up there and try to knock them down! It won’t help anything anyway and it is very dangerous for a variety of reasons.

Just learn the lesson your house is trying to teach you: Add insulation.