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To Stop Ice Dams You Need a Cold Roof - Boston, Worcester

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 10, 2014

There has been a lot of snow around Boston and Worcester. Your home may look beautiful with all the icicles hanging off the roof, but in actuality, looks can be deceiving. Icicles are a sign of a much larger problem, which can become costly: Ice dams.

Ice dams and icicles form when snow melts, runs down your roof and refreezes near the edge. This only occurs when part of your roof warms to above 32 degrees F, warm enough to melt the snow, while the roof edge remains below freezing. This scenario is often the result of a warm attic. In most homes, heat escapes through ceilings into the attic and warms the wood and shingles directly above it. Although the outdoor temperature is below freezing, the snow melts over the warmed section of roof. When the water from melted snow and ice runs down the roof, it hits the cold edge not warmed by the attic. There it freezes, creating a rim of ice. This rim can grow, trap more water behind it, and bingo—you have a full-fledged ice dam.

The key to preventing ice dams is simply to keep your attic and roof cold. After a snowfall, a cold roof will have a thick blanket of snow. A warmer roof, however, will soon have clear spots where the snow has melted off, and may well have icicles hanging from the eaves.

To keep your roof cold, follow these three steps:

1. Close up attic bypasses

In the average home, about one-third of the heat loss is through the ceiling into the attic. And most of that loss comes from air leaks caused by unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, chimneys, access hatches and other ceiling penetrations. Air leaks can be tough to stop. You have to climb into your attic, pull or rake back insulation, and plug the leaks using foam, caulk and other methods. Low roof angles make some air leaks difficult to reach.

Bonus: By stopping air leakage to mitigate ice dams, you'll save energy and reduce both your heating and your air conditioning bills.

2. Measure your attic insulation level

You should have the depth of your attic insulation checked and measured. Building codes require about 12 to 14 in. of fiberglass or cellulose. Have more insulation added if you have less than 8 inches and if you have had ice dam problems in the past. Blown-in cellulose and fiberglass are usually better than hand-placed batts, because they fill more tightly around rafters, joists and other obstructions, leaving fewer gaps. It's usually worth hiring a professional for this job; you won't save much by doing it yourself.

3. Add roof and soffit vents

Attic ventilation draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air, cooling the attic and the roof in the process.

In addition:

Insulation, especially blown-in insulation, can block the airflow. Insulation specialists should make sure the spaces between rafters over the exterior walls are open. Baffles usually prevent this problem. If you don't have them, have them added before installing additional insulation. A shot of air from a compressor hose from the outside will open plugged soffit vents.

For more information on adding insulation to prevent ice dams, contact Custom Insulation.

Insulating Attics and Floors Keep Homes Warmer – Boston, Worcester

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 09, 2013

Home insulation; most homes have it. But do they have enough. Winter is here and many communities around Worcester and Boston got their first snow of the season already. The best way to keep your home warm and to keep your heating costs down is to be sure that your home is properly insulated.

Attic insulation – Heat rises, and in an uninsulated home a quarter of the heat is lost through the roof. Insulating your attic is a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of heat leaving your home and lower your heating bills. Many homes already have some attic insulation, but the amount of heat lost and the energy savings gained will directly relate to the current thickness and condition of the insulation. If you live in a home that’s older than 10 years, it is probably time to check on- and add to- your attic insulation.

Floor insulation - Insulating under the floorboards on your ground floor could save you money. Although older properties are more likely to have suspended timber floors these can be insulated with spray foam insulation or blown-in insulation as it performs better between joists as it will take up thermal movement and cut down air movement around the insulation. Newer homes will have a ground floor made of solid concrete. This can be insulated if it needs to be replaced, or can have rigid insulation laid on top.

For more information on adding home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.

Excerpts – Messenger Newspaper

Do You Need More Home Insulation in Worcester and Boston?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 26, 2013

It’s the season when people worrying about how to cool down their homes without using more AC.  Being comfortable while not increasing utility bills is the challenge.
Will attic insulation help?

Attic insulation could help if you have an older home built before standards for insulation improved. Get on a ladder and stick your head into the attic. Do you see a continuous layer of insulation with no wood peeking out? If you see a lot of lumber, you don’t have enough insulation.

Generally, if insulation was installed more than 20 years ago, its effectiveness may have deteriorated, and it may need improving. If your home was built before 1984, it almost certainly needs more insulation.

R-values measure how effectively insulation resists heat flow into your cooled spaces below. And the recommended values come from building codes and the U.S. Energy Department.

Know what the R-value should be for the space you are insulating Over-insulating an attic or crawl space won’t save you enough money on power bills to make the expense worthwhile. If you think you need more insulation, consult an expert.

If you have concrete-block walls, filling them with spray foam insulation helps can make a big improvement in cooling your house in summer and heating it in winter because many older homes made from these blocks were not insulated at all. Foam insulation can improve the R-value of concrete-block walls by as much as five times. Foam insulation can also make a dramatic difference in older frame-construction houses that have little or no insulation. If you suspect your walls aren’t properly insulated, you need to get a professional assessment.

For more information contact Custom Insulation.

Excerpts -

Green Home Improvements Save Money and Increases Resale Value- Attic Insulation, Worcester

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 24, 2013

Homeowners planning to sell their homes are being urged to ‘go green’.   Research is saying that making your home more energy efficient can save you money and increase the value of your property when you decide to sell. Heating costs are typically the highest and most variable expenses for homeowners. As a result, homeowners are doing energy saving home renovations.

It is finally hot in Worcester. Instead of turning down the temperature on the AC, there are better ways to keep your house more comfortable during the summer that are easier on your wallet and the environment.

Save money by improving your home’s energy efficiency rating, this could also add more money to your asking price when you decide to sell your home. Buyers want to save money on energy bills. The most common home energy improvements are double glazing, a more efficient boiler, and attic and crawl space insulation.

Adding better or more insulation to your attic and crawl spaces will save you money. If your home does not have enough attic insulation, attic heat is going to be transferred into the house.  Avoid high energy bills by focusing your home improvement efforts to areas where they count.  Increasing attic insulation makes a big difference in the temperature of your home in all seasons, and it will cut your heating costs in the winter.

Upgrade your attic insulation and the insulation in crawl spaces and wall cavities. Heat escaping through the attic may account for half your home’s heat loss. Make sure there’s at least 12” of insulation. Upgraded insulation can even help soundproof and weatherize your house for optimum living quality.

For more information on improving home value with home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.

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