Ending ice dams and resultant water damage
Looking for recommended actions to address significant ice dams and water infiltration we experienced in our house this winter. I do not want to go through what we experienced this winter in terms of water damage again. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
BACKGROUND: We live in a 2-story 1964-built colonial in eastern MA. We purchased the house in 2005. It is baseboard hot water oil heated, no A/C with backyard facing almost due south. We keep house at 66 in winter, 60 at night and during the day when we are away (5 days a week work hours). We have a walk up attic with fairly high ceilings on one end accessible from one of bedrooms upstairs.
We air-sealed and insulated attic in fall 2005 via Mass Save program incentives and Conservation Services Group. They air-sealed throughout and blew in cellulose insulation over existing fiberglass batting. However, we only have roof vent and a gable end vent in the attic, no soffit venting at all, which I was told at inspection should be done but we haven’t had that done yet.
We also have 10 recessed lights in second floor that were there when we bought house and have merely been wrapped in fiberglass when attic was insulated, which seems totally useless. We have gutters on main roof areas with leaf relief gutter covers on them that were installed 2 years ago.
Last winter we had icicles and ice dams and icicles coming out of our siding on south facing side of house as well as some water dripping through a newly renovated kitchen window wall as well as icicles and ice dams on north-facing side of house. Due to a tree destroying part of our house in Feb 2010, we installed a new roof in summer 2010. This winter despite new roof and hiring roof raking service to remove snow we were slammed. Major ceiling water damage in upstairs bedroom on north facing part of house, and downstairs in kitchen, dining room, family room, all south facing. Significant ice dams on both south and north sides of house. The ice and water shield that was used for new roof clearly did nothing. The G/C who did our roofing is claiming not his issue and it may not be, I have no idea.
QUESTIONS: It sounds from other research I’ve done online that we need to do the following. Appreciate feedback/suggestions:
1. Install continuous soffit venting – seems like a no-brainer, just do it.
2. Revisit all insulation in attic and find expert to do more advanced work on completely insulating and eliminating air infiltration to keep warm air out of attic and support a good “cold roof” system. I called an insulation specialist company in 2009 to review work done and they didn’t really suggest additional work in attic of any significance but they were highly rated by others. Can I trust an insulation specialist or should I be talking to someone who specializes in building envelopes and establishes strategy for insulation companies to execute on?
3. Related to #2 above, remove recessed lights or upgrade to completely insulatable version – maybe low heat emitting like LED? I’m willing to remove or replace recessed lights with fully insulated options if that works but hate to have to deal with the costs of all ceiling work.
4. Have someone inspect the roof and ensure that no gaps / issues in original installation and that ice and water shield is properly installed along edge of roof. Could a home inspector do this (we liked our original inspector a lot) or should I call another roofing contractor or some other specialist?
5. Consider removing gutters on some part or all of roof? I’ve heard gutters aren’t the issue with dams but have to wonder. Will this help at all, and what are the downsides of doing this as long as we landscape appropriately?
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