Here is a picture of the house I audited last week.  These icicles aren't the biggest I've seen.  They do show the low level of insulation in the attic (3 inches of cellulose).

 

The more immediate problem was were the ice went when the icicle melted.  Below the eve was the condenser unit!  So, it was ice covered.  And at some point the morning I was auditing, shorted the fuse in the furnace.  So, not only did we not need the AC, but we didn't have heat either!

That is an unintended consequence!

 

 

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This makes no sense to me. Nothing shorts a fuse. Rather, a short in a circuit blows a fuse. But maybe that's what you meant.

 

Now what circuit could that be? If it is the circuit for the furnace, how could the AC condenser short that circuit? They're completely separate as far as I know, unless they happen to be on the same circuit from the panel. That would definitely be a wiring mistake.

 

Moreover, why would the AC unit be on at all in the middle of the winter? Are you sure the furnace failure was caused by the AC condenser?

I believe that technically the blower fuse was blown. That did not allow the furnace to kick on.  Of course the blower would be involved with both the ac and furnace.

I took the tech's word for it that the fuse was blown due to the ice on the ac causing a short.  I am not an HVAC tech.  He did disconnect the ac wiring. There have been no further problems in the 7 days.  We had one day above 32. The rest have been temps in the teens and 20s.

What does cause a blown fuse?  A short circuit somewhere. The only way I know to find out is usually some knowledge with a process of elimination.

Since it was 10 degrees outside, he said he would be their until he found the reason for the short,  I could see the billing time mounting. It was nice to have him fix the problem and not just run up the bill, by checking a lot of other stuff.

You think disconnecting the AC wiring is fixing the problem? What happens when summer comes?

By summer, the ac will be thawed and another service call can fix the problem and hook the ac back up. At least we were not out there with the temp at 12 degrees F trying to troubleshoot the problem.

Or the efficiency revolving loan program the landlord wants to work with will have replaced the ac and furnace, insulated the house correctly and put some gutters up. This 1000 sf home has 1800 per year in electric and gas bills. Obtaining a savings over 15 years of 8500 - 10000 for improvements is not unreasonable.

I live in upstate NY and we have some Whopper Icicles this year. I was having a discussion with a new home builder (modulars) about the 7'-10' icicles hanging from the new home he is finishing. When I explained to him that the icicles were likely a result of poorly installed insulation, he said "Nah, it's the SUN hitting the roof" (emphasis mine).

To which I replied: "Then how come the unoccupied buildings have no icicles?"

This is knowledge from a builder that has been doing construction for over 20 years and will swear up and down that his buildings are "tight" and "very energy efficient."

During this same discussion, the guy also said: "They (the modular fabricator) spray foam the sheetrock (tm) to the studs. You can't get better "R" Value than that!"

 

Well, the sun does cause some icicles. I have an unheated and unoccupied summer house that has icicles right now. Not huge ones, but they're there. They form when the sun causes the snow to melt around the edges of the roof (the most common snow pattern on roofs of unheated buildings, in my experience, is melting around the edges). I believe melting occurs where ever the snow presents a surface to the sun -- both the surface facing the sky and the surface facing the edge.

 

But "7' - 10'" icicles? I'd have to agree with you that the likely culprit is lack of insulation. However, it sure would be helpful to inspect his modular homes to see what the fabricator is doing with the roof.

Certainly, David. The sun and a dark roof do combine to create some ice, but not like this - I neglected to take pictures, but it's pretty dramatic.

I would love to do a blower door on that house and prove how leaky it realy is...

Why don't you offer to do one for free? He might see the light. And pay you for the next one.

I am desperately trying not to do ANYthing else for free. I have given away about half of last year. Upstate NY is BRUTAL right now, so thanks for the advice, but...no. Nothing personal, mind you - I'm just not giving anything more away.
I understand. It's the same in MA.
Gee, then why the push to train more auditors?  We're tripping over each other in PA also.
Yes, someone forgot to tell the Green Jobs folks that after all the training, we actually need to put people to WORK!

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