PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

[IMAGE: title - R&D; university][IMAGE: Title - Arrow]

Eave Icing of Residential Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

* Michael J. O'Rourke, Principal Investigator
* Richard N. Smith, Co-Principal Investigator (former)

Start: September 1, 2000
Expires: May 31, 2003


The proposed work is a multi-disciplinary research project on eave icing of the nation's low-rise residential building stock. Specifically the goal of the project is to develop a fundamental understanding of eave icing while the objective is development of an analytical model which predicts the size of a ice dam at the eave of one and two family dwelling units.

The formation of eave ice dams is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in colder climates. When ice dams become large, wetting of interior surfaces (walls and ceilings) is the typical result. Eave icing is arguably the most common and costly ice and snow related loss for one and two family dwelling units in the United States.

By its nature, the model to be developed will address both the generation of meltwater upslope of the eave, as well as solidification of the meltwater at the eave area. This development of an analytical model will allow engineers and builders to deal knowledgeably and quantitatively with the problem. That is, for a given roof (i.e., fixed ridge to eave distance, roof slop, roof R-value, etc) the analytical model would allow one to calculate the combination of below freezing days and roof snow deph which result in ice dam formation.

Conversely, for a given winter environment and roof, the model allows one to calculate the minimum eave overhang distance or width of continuous metal flashing required to avoid interior wetting. The model will be verified and benchmarked through simple in-situ experimental observations on full scale buildings and to the extent possible by comparison to and analysis of insurance company loss information from prior winters.

The project's objectives are compatible with those of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). That is, the results, when properly used, will lead to a reduced risk of property destruction, improved durability, reduced maintenance costs and in the long run reduced monthly cost of housing.

The multi-disciplinary project team is lead by a civil engineer, Professor Michael O'Rourke of Rensselaer, who is an expert in the area of snow effects on building structures. The Co-PI is Professor Richard Smith, of Rensselaer's Mechancial Engineering Department, who is an expert on heat transfer and solidification. In order to ensure appropriate transfer and use of this new technology, a project advisory group consisting of representation from the National Association of Home Builders and State Farm's Building Technology Research Lab has been established.

To view additional details on this NSF award, click here.

Content updated on 9/21/2005

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