Ice dams can be a real problem in winter. The tutorial How to Prevent and Remove Ice Dams describes what ice dams are and how you can try to prevent them from forming and damaging your home. In the tutorial, it also describes some of the preventative things you can do before winter, including:
- Keep gutters clean
- Eliminate or reduce direct sources of heat in the attic;
- Increase attic floor insulation;
- Properly ventilate roof, attic, and eaves;
- Install heat tape.
Of that list, properly ventilating your roof, attic, and eaves are very important. Outside air must have a clear unobstructed path and flow through the soffit eaves, into the attic or along the roof deck surface and out through ventilation in the upper part of the roof. If insulation in the attic blocks the air from entering through the eave vents, the whole ventilation system fails.
One of the easiest ways to ensure proper eave ventilation is by using prefabricated soffit insulation baffles. The soffit insulation baffle shown here is made by Berger and is called AccuVent™. This product is available in big box home improvement centers and is made of rigid recycled plastic. Other types of prefabricated baffles are made with foam and are less durable. Since the AccuVent product is made of plastic it also installs easily with a staple gun.
Baffles like this allow you to quickly ensure the soffit/eave ventilation area is unobstructed and an air pathway from the eave vent is continuous into the attic cavity. This way you can blow insulation into the roof or lay batt insulation without having to worry about the insulation getting into the soffit and blocking the soffit eave vent. These prefab baffles adjust to fit any roof pitch and will not absorb moisture helping to prevent the growth of mold.