Published on May 21st, 2014 | by Henri


Frost forms inside attic roof

Q. This very cold winter in Chicago caused frost to form on the roof in the attic. When the frost melted the moisture caused discoloration at the eves on the ceiling below. Before I have the ceiling painted I want to ensure the issue in the attic is solved first. Can you recommend the steps needed to solve the problem?

A.    If you mean that frost formed on the roof sheathing in the attic, there must be considerable convection of warm, moist air from the living spaces into the attic. This should be investigated and corrected. The best way to do that is to have an energy audit performed by an accredited professional. Your utility provider may be able to recommend someone. A full energy audit needs cool outdoor temperatures, so it’s a fall or winter job.

The attic insulation has most likely gotten wet for the ceiling below to have been affected. But it is very likely to dry up over the summer unless it became so soaked that it should be replaced.

But if you mean that ice formed on top of the roof at the eaves, and melt water backed up into the attic – a frequent occurrence – the level of insulation in the attic may need to be increased to lessen the heat loss, which is causing the ice dams.

In addition to increasing the attic’s insulation, you may want to consider having a water and ice protective membrane installed at the eaves. This will entail removing approximately four feet of the shingles and any felt paper to apply the membrane to bare sheathing.

Sorry, but not being in the Chicago area, I do not know of any contractor to recommend. Ask neighbors and friends if they have used contractors with whom they have been very satisfied.

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