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Snow and Ice Buildup

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by mayhem, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    OK, did some photographs, took some temps and did alot of thinking last night. Since the board software here seems to reorganize pics in alphabetical order, I'll jsut amke several posts so I know the descriptions go with each pic.

    Pics attached of the South side showing icicles, these icicles between both light fixtures were non existent Wed about dinner time, so when the photo was taken they had about 30 hours to grow to this size...the others were not knocked off earlier so they're several days growth, mabye a week. The discolored icicles are in direct line with the chimney. The entire south side of the house is ike this...some spots like below the MBR skylights have longer icicles (like that huge group to the far right is directly under the skylight above my wife's side of the bed).

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  2. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    I still am thinking alot of my problem is solar and poor sealing around doors and windows and NOT heat loss directly through the roof. Here's why. Next photo is of the north side of the house. No icicles have been touched on this side of the house all winter long. The grouping of large icicles on the dormer are directly below a third skylight, the group directly below that is formed by the water dripping off the top group. Note the steep part of the roof to the right...that is the dining room section of the great room, the very same room with the woodstove and the T&G ceiling. If i were heat soaking the roof right through the ceiling I'd expect to see at least some icicles on this part...there are zero.

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  3. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Moving inside, here is the interior of the main entryway. Borrowed the IR temp gun fromwork and ran some tests.

    - Dead center of the cross on the left hand (operable) door reads about 55 degrees, same spot on the other door reads 65.
    - All around the frame the left side consistently reads significantly lower than the corresponding part on the other side of the frame. Temps were slightly higher on the frame than the door on the left...2-3 degrees, on he right the difference was tenths of a degree. Center divider that runs vertically is part of the inoperable door and what the operable door latches to. The bar read as the coolest part of the door...about 57 degrees at the top, a stunning 28 degrees at the bottom. Thats not a typo, an interior part of the main entryway of my house is reading below freezing on the inside of the house...about 10-12 feet from the woodstove.

    Log walls were consistently reading in the upper 60's, mainly hovering between 66-68 surface temperatures all along that wall. Seams read the same as the center of the logs which tells me I have a decent seal and no air gaps on that wall.

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  4. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Other interior shot, looking towards the core of the house from the SW corner of the great room. Shows the stove, hearth, chimney and the height of the celing. One ceiling fan shown, there is another one adjacent to me. I run the fan in view pushing air down, which gets some of the warm air down off the ceiling and goes down the hallway to the back 2 bedrooms and first floor bath. Ceiling fan not shown I run up (which may be part of the issue) to create an air current that moves hot air towards the back wall and (hopefully) through to the master bedroom. There's a good 8 feet of wall above the top of the MBR door, so I installed a smalling, decorative air grate near the ceiling to let some of that air into the MBR that stuck in the ceiling between those two huge glulams. Those glulams are the main roof support and there are steep support posts in the basement directly below them, anchored to the foundation...verticals are 6x6, horizontals are 6x12. The peak of the inside of the ceiling is a good 26 feet above the floor of this room.

    Lat night I had just the rear fan going for some reason and I noticed that the temps at the peak of the ceiling were in the mid 70's and the air temps were fairly consistent feeling when I walked from the MBR to the loft...normally there is an extraoridinaryly sharp heat spike when i walk out of the MBR, like what feels like 8-10 degrees to (never measured it), also normally I run both fans at either low or medium speed. I need to collect more data points on the relationship of temperature relative to fan operation.

    Wall temps throughout the room were pretty consistently in the upper 60's and gradualyl rose up to the mid 70's the higher I went.

    Those are NOT my pink and white boots in front of the stove.

    That IS however all of my own labor to build the hearthpad and all the finish work in the room.

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  5. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Shot of the interior of the great room ceiling looking out (West) from the MBR doorway. Its about 4-5 vertical feet from the bottom of the glulams to the top of the peak I'd say...and a good 6-7 feet between the glulam inner edges and about 22-24 feet in length. That air volume between those beams is huge...probably as much air in that space as in a medium sized bedroom. Surface temps all laong there, even along the top window frame are in the mid to upper 70's...nowhere near as hot as I said earlier, but still alot of warm air thats not doing any work for me.

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  6. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Interior of the master bedroom looking out towards the front of the house. You can see the grate I installed...I think it helps, but its so small that its really almost decorative. I've been thinking a squirrel cage fan mounted up there and a clear plastic deflector to direct the air downwards would make a huge difference in moving some of that hot air trapped between the glulams through the wall and into the MBR. My wife is always cold and complains that its cold in the MBR, even whent he thermostat (you can see it in the lower right hand corner) shows 68-69 temp readout.

    Same roof/celing height, same roof thickness and insulation as the great room. No T&G in here, just 3/8" sheet rock. Two skylights are to the left of the photo.

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  7. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    This si our neighbor's house across the street...about 250-300 yards away (my camera has a great zoom function). Its a nearly identical house in terms of layout, construction type and proportions. Note the large front deck that wraps around the side like mine does. About 4 years ago that side was an open deck like mine, the prior owners extended the roof and amde it into a porch with a mudroom/vestibule encapsulatiing their main entryway, which is a single door, not a double like mine. This is basically what I was thinking of doing, with or without the mudroom.

    My shed dormer is on the opposite side of my house.

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  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    If you want a front porch, extend the whole roof. If you want a mud room but not a proch, you could put a shed roof on, and have the new exterior door on the side of the bump out, or put a gable roof on it and have the new exterior door be on the far end. If you want neither, you could still build a dormer like gable roof ending at the current drip edge, could make it 6' wide to keep the existing double door (pretty entryway) intact. The new enclosed space inside this gable (only a couple feet high) could be dead space--you would not need to touch the interior ceiling plane or trimwork.
  9. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, I really like how the palce looks. Wife and I spent a couple years planning it, modifying plans and arguing about it before we built. Pic attached is the winter view. You can see the houseon the left if the neighbor's house thats similar in design. The left hand house is at the bottom of our cul-de-sac, my property line ends right at the edge of the circle. I'd say there's about 75 vertical feet between my house and the neighbors across the street. My driveway is the snow covered arc that goes left to right, I designed it to be as long as possible so the curve is gentle and the elevation changes are left to as shallow a grade as possible, which helps keep winter access alot safer for us and company. The snow covered stripyou see above the house on the right is the lake we live near, its about 3/4 of a mile away as the crow flies, 1.5 mile drive.

    Alot of the view out of the yard is obstructed when the leaves are on the trees and I'm planning on thinning as I make future firewood, but I need to be careful because while its nice to see the lake, I don't want to lose all of my existing privacy.

    I've always thought that too, except I took out my ladder to check for drafts and air leaks and I was shocked that when i put my palm on the dead center of the rectangular window, it was warm to the touch...as warm or warmer than the walls between the windows. Those windows were custom cut, double pane low e glass from a very reputable local glass shop...cost me a small fortune. There's about an inch of vacuum between the panes and the panes themselves are at least a half inch think, if not more...they may be low grade anti-ballistics grade. The glass has to be that thick if you think about it...each of those panes is 6 feet wide, the side panes are about 10 or so feet tall and they must weigh an absolute ton.

    They're low-e and basically clear. I've been kicking myself for 7 years for not paying for them to be tinted from the factory. I need to get them tinted to reflect some solar heat out in the summer...in the afternoon we all have to wear sunglasses in that room and its greenhouse hot in there some days.

    No blower on the stove, its 100% radiant. The moving shadows the fans throw around the room give my wife a headache, so sometimes they're both off for several hours...we get alot of heat up in the loft when that happens and the front of the great room and especially the dining room get surprisingly cold. Cold enough that you can feel it when you move from one end of the couch to the other.

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  10. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Yes, we had this same problem for several years before we put in the woodstove. South side has always been an icicle factory and the side deck has always had major ice collection problems.

    Unfortunately there is no electrical wiring up in the peak, so to get a celing fan up there will cost me a pretty penny.

    I tried putting an pedistal fan up in the loft once and pointed it basically right up in the tray area, turned it on high and let it run for a few hours. Didn't seem to do much. Problem is, from the floor of the loft to the bottom of the glulams is about 10 vertical feet. I think alot of the force of the air was largely dissipated by the time it got there so it couldn't do mcuh work for me. Maybe I need to play with it some more.

    Maybe there's something to installing a couple passthrough squirrel cage fans up there to pull the hot aire out of the great room and into the master bedroom, and another to pull air into the master bath, master abth is located behind the wall to the left of the pic here. It too has a high ceiling and its actually just about the coldest room in the house now because convection just doesn't take the air in there very well. If I blew some of the hot air from between the glulams into that room it mgiht make a big difference.

    Anyone recommend a decent, queit fan that might do what I want to do?

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  11. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    I just can't believe that degree of melting on your roof is due to the sun. First of all, unless your winter weather is vastly different from mine, there must be days/weeks where the sun doesn't shine very much or for very long. By now, you'd have noticed a trend toward the icicles during sunny periods, and no icicles during overcast periods. But you say the problem occurs every day.

    Also, you pointed out that you neighbor's house is very similar to yours, yet I see no icicles on it. What side of their house faces south? Are there icicles there we can't see?

    Lastly, my house has a huge section of roof that points due south, and I'm farther south than you, meaning our ambient temps and our angle to the sun are greater than yours, so solar heating would be more noticeable here. Yet I never, ever have icicles at any time from that roof section.

    I hate to say it, but I think your stove is most or all the problem. Were you getting icicles back before you had the stove? Did you check any of the temps on the ceiling last night?
  12. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    But the icicles that ARE there, shouldn't be there at all. They shouldn't be there, especially on the north side of the house, because you can't blame solar heating of the roof there at all. They're proof that heat is getting out through your ceiling somehow. Whether it's worse on the south side of the house because of the sun (which I doubt) or because of the stove being on that side of the house, is hard to know for sure. Depends on how many sunny days you have there, and whether the solar heat gain is high enough to offset the low ambient temp, which I doubt is true most of the time, where you live.
  13. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Surface temps are helpful, but not always reliable. If the stove is on and cooking, nearly everything equidistant from it is going to read about the same temp, due to continuous radiant heating. You'd need to remove all sources of heat, and see which surfaces start to cool the fastest, to know where the real problems are. Or use a thermal camera.
  14. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Imagine the stove to be a giant light bulb. Everyplace that gets "lit" by the stove is being radiantly heated, a lot, if you are running the stove hot and often. But notice the south ceiling "sees" the stove, and most of the north ceiling does not. I'm pretty sure that's why your south roof melts the snow much more than your north roof does.

    BTW--your neighbor in the pic, what does he use to heat his house?
  15. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    The severity of this issue has not changed since we put the stove in, its been like this since we built the palce in 2002/3. I'll go back through my photo archive and find some pics from before I had the stove and confirm that, but I know I've been fighting ice in that spot since the day we moved in and we've been forced to use the basement entry every year since we moved in.

    This issue does not occur when its really cold. For example, the icicles have not changed noticably from when I got home from work yesterday afternoon till this morning, yet they grew to 18-24" length in a single day. That day was sunny and definitely warmer...mid to upper 20's if I recall. Yesterday afternoon was still sunny but a cold front blew in and we were down in the single digits overnight. I'll reshoot that same angle tonight when I get home and see how it differs.

    The neighbor's house is showing the NNE side, so that side is definitely facing away from the direct sun. I'll drive past the South side when i go home and see what it looks like.

    I just can't imagine its my woodstove/roof combination simply because the norht side of my house has no icicles and its the same room the entryway is in. How could that be?

    Woodgeek, I think my ideal is a full length porch covering the deck on the side, that would keep all the ice off the side deck and it would remain passable throughout the winter. I like the idea of a mudroom, but only from an energy efficiency poit of view in that it would be reducing my dependance on the crappy seal double doors...might make more sense to rip them out and replace them with a good quality single doorway with a couple of nice big sidelights and an outer storm/screen door.
  16. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    In this pic, is the length of the icicles consistant from the front of the house to the rear? or do they vary?
    MY MIL has a open plan Gambrel, similar climate (NOrth/Central Mass at about 1100 elevation)T & G on the ceiling, and half the south facing roof is open, with the 2 ends being occupied as bedrooms....the entire roofline has many icicles on it from left to right....all the same size....steep roof. I thought she was loosing heat through the T & G ceiling, but the 2 bedrooms upstairs are closed off and not heated....but the meling/icicles is consistant throughout the roofline..
    She does have gutters on the north and south side, and the heat strip seems to work pretty well in the area where she has it (ON the back deck due to access to the Jacuzzi)
  17. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    There's a solid structure blocking most of the radiant heat on that side, looks like the floor of the loft and the supports. It absorbs all the radiant heat and won't let it get to the ceiling.

    And you do have some icicles on the north side, proving that it is not the sun leading to at least those icicles.

    I believe a sunny day could make your problem worse. I do not believe the sun is the biggest cause of your trouble.
  18. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I'll get icicles in the valleys of my hip roof (double L-shape).
    The ice grows on top of the snow like a crust and will flow right over the snow built up in the gutters.
    I have a valley on both the North and South side and the south side is worse, but they'll both do it when the snow/rain/ice /temps are just right.

    Heaters in the gutters helped melt the snow so it wouldn't grow over the gutters , then I had plastic gutters for a couple of years.
    Those didn't work out so well so we put up oversized commercial gutters. ( with the over sized overhangs on the hip roof eaves they actually look good).
    So far - no icicles, but I also don't have gutter covers and have had to keep cleaning the leaves out .
  19. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    The only icicles on the north side of the house are directly below the lone skylight on that side of the house. I agree 100% that I'm losing heat through that spot and that is the cause of my icicles...but on the south side they go clear across the whole roofline, even where the roof isn't in the radiant range of the stove and the ceiling is sheet rock, not T&G. Icicles on the south side grow 10x faster and longer above the doorway and below the skylights...across the roof section in the great room between the doors and front of the house I've got 12-18" long icicles, but they've been forming undisturbed for a good week or more since we got our last smowfall. The icicles above the doors formed in a single day.

    I've lived in this area my whole life...I find it odd that there shouldn't be icicles...doesn't fit in my brain with it being winter and having snow. Now I have to start paying more attention when I drive home and see how many houses I see with them and on what side of the house they are on.

    Pellet stove and oil. Not sure of the location of the pellet stove or how much they depend on it for heat though.

    They vary. The longest icicles form quickly above the green doors, another batch forms below the skylights in the MBR.


    I can tell you this aint gonna happen so long as my wife doesn't go away for a week...and since she hasn't in the last 16 years I'm going to assume she won't start now.

    I really appreciate the help by the way, sorry if I'm coming across as argumentative.
  20. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Actually, if you're not running a blower on your stove, there's probably not much use in adding any sort of fans up high. The stove is heating the ceiling radiantly, not the air in between the stove and the ceiling, so all you'fd be doing is blowing cool air around.

    It might help, a little, if you blew fans directly across the ceiling, to try to move heat from the warm surface and into the air, but such fans would look strange and need to be high volume, and running all the time.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Ok: While youre saving for the new roof, a rain diverter might be a quick/cheap fix over the door:
    http://www.dannylipford.com/installing-a-rain-diverter/
    as before, might need to chase it with wire to keep it from damming.
  22. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Icicles only form for two reasons:

    1. Cyclic heating/cooling due to fast changes in the ambient air temp combined with solar heat gain, or

    2. Because heat is escaping from inside the structure and getting under/onto the roof decking, melting the snow on the roof, creating water which drips downhill and refreezes when it gets away from the heat.

    The first process happens rarely in most areas, usually at the transition into or out of winter, which we are not in. The second process happens all winter, in structures which are not properly insulated or air-sealed, or in structures in which the internal heat overwhelms the insulation of the structure. The second process can be aggravated by the first.

    You see icicles commonly in the winter, but as I've said before, you don't commonly see them in well-insulated, air-sealed houses, unless the first process is at work. For example, my house never has icicles anywhere, even on the south-facing roof, except for a few days in Feb/March, as we approach the thaw. Then they're gone. That's it.

    My neighbor's house, however, has icicles nearly all winter, on all sides.

    How about going back to the boiler for a week, and see if it makes a difference?
  23. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    The air is getting heated bigtime up in the loft area, Most evenings when i walk out of the bedroom into the loft, I can feel the temperature go up a significant amount...like what feels like 10 degrees. You can also feel the temperatures rise as you go up the staircase.

    I'm reasonably certain I'm not just heating surfaces, I'm also heating the air inside the house and warm air rises. The surface temperature of the T&G on the inside of the loft ceiling, totally out of line of sight of the stove is as higher than a corresponding bit of ceiling on the south side of the room, in direct view of the stove. The only way that section of ceilingf is getting heated is from prolonged exposure to warm interior air. There are no icicles at all on that part of the house at all.

    When I run the ceiling fan closest to the stove and stand under it, I can feel warmer air washing down over me, that air isn't coming from heat radiated off only the ceiling area thats line of sight to the woodstove...its coming from the large mass of warm air that being pulled down from the warm air that exists above the fan. Likewise when the stove is cranking and all the fans are off, you can feel cool air washing down from the ceiling at the front of the great room, cool air that muct be being displaced by warm air rising up in a column near and above the stove.
  24. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    But that's how radiant heat works. The solid surfaces are being heated first by the stove, then radiating to your skin. The warm solid surfaces heat the air secondarily, and to a lesser degree. So the ambient air temp might be 68, but you will feel much warmer.

    The only issue really is the actual temp of the ceiling surface. The ceiling, being in line with the stove, is likely much warmer than the air, and its the heat of the ceiling that's the problem, not the heat of the air, so blowing the air around might not help prevent the snow melt very much. You'd have to blow loads of air ACROSS the ceiling, trying to cool it, to make much of a difference with fans.
  25. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    I think the oversized/commercial gutter Bill mentioned would be a good scenario to check out in your application. You would only need one run on the south side of your home, and you might be able to find something decorative to match your nice home. (Actually went to a Lincoln Logs seminar about 17 year ago and the Valcour Island was one of the plans we liked the most)
    I think you would still need some heat tape/strip...but I don't think the gutter would be too expensive.

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