Icicles on the Roof Top


The cottage has a lot of heat stored in its 100,000 lbs of thermal mass. The fact that we’re getting icicles without much sun suggest we are losing some heat through our roof. Not too surprising since the cottage is only insulated with a single sheet of Reflectix foil-bubble-bubble-foil that got us through the past winter. We also only have single panes of glass in the big windows right now. I had hoped to get more insulation on by now but it has not happened yet. Still, the foil plus a layer of snow is doing a remarkable job of keeping the heat in the cottage. We’ve been having temperatures in the sub-zero to 20’s and very little sunshine yet the cottage is still staying 35°F above the outdoor temperature.

Curious as to how much heat we’re losing through the poorly insulated roof I put in several new temperature probes. Now I have the following probes:

  1. Outdoors
  2. Farm House
  3. Tiny Cottage eye level
  4. Tiny Cottage Floor
  5. Tiny Cottage Ceiling – 1/2″ into the roof concrete with spray foam below it to seal it and protect it from heat from the room.
  6. Tiny Cottage Roof Below Foil – 1″ above ceiling probe on the roof top above the concrete and below the foil.
  7. Tiny Cottage Roof Above Foil – under the insulating blanket of snow.

Lots of data. When we can we will add more insulation to the roof. In the mean time it will be interesting to watch these probes. Interestingly, the foot of snow on the roof makes a significant blanket of insulation. Our tiny cottage is an igloo. Thatching the roof would help too…

Sunday Outdoors: 20°F/-8°F 12″ Snow
Farm House: 54°F/42°F
Tiny Cottage Eye Level: 34°F/31°F Sump in place, loft ladder built
Floor: 31°F/30°F (water not actually freezing on floor)
Ceiling: 33°F/32°F
Roof Below Foil: 30°F/29°F
Roof Above Foil: 28°F/27°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Icicles on the Roof Top

  1. Patti says:

    When do you think you’ll move in? Will it just be a winter house or year round?

  2. Haymaker says:

    What is the biggest object that you’ve lost underneath the snowfall and/or drifts?

  3. Patti, Before Christmas and it will become our year round house. I don’t want to keep maintaining the old farm house never mind the winter heating!

    Haymaker, we’ve lost 4′ round bales, but found them with some digging. We lost the hay shed so to speak. That’s 8′ high x 40′ long x 20′ wide. It become completely covered in snow such that you wouldn’t know it was there at all. The older minivans have been completely buried on occasion. Right now the wind is howling something fierce and we got a lot of snow yesterday and more last night. The world looks very… white.

  4. Haymaker, I just thought of one other thing, while out plowing, that we lose under the snow – fences, posts and all. Most posts are only 4′ tall so they readily become buried, especially if there is drifting.

  5. Haymaker says:

    Fences & buried bales of hay! Love it.

    I live in northeast Wisconsin, where through the winter we’ll get 20″-30″ or so total. Just enough volume to justify a snow blower, and enough frequency to move it at the front of the garage after Thanksgiving.

    We hear reports from the UP of Michigan of real snow falls due to Lake Superior and a stout cold north wind. I think over the winter they average 200-300 inches. How about getting four feet of snow at a time? Fun once or twice, but that would get real old by March.

    Several years ago we had 36″ in the course of two weeks. The blower only puts it so far away, and I ended up burying a used car that I had parked on the side of the driveway. The only part showing was the rear deck spoiler.

    Do the hogs seem to mind it? Or do they trample it down pretty quickly? Do they play in the snowbanks?

  6. Most of our snow comes in almost daily dustings of a quarter inch to an inch. Then there’s a dump of a few inches most weeks with the occasional 8″ to 24″ inch storm. We don’t usually get the 3′ to 10′ dumps of now like they do out around the lakes. You’re right, that would get pretty tiresome! The biggest single dump of snow I remember is 34″ but there may have been bigger ones. Not often!

    Small snows we just drive over – studs and big treaded winter snow tires are derigour. The tractor with it’s wide bucket loader make quick work of the deep snows. Today it took me two hours to plow because we had gotten so much snow over the weekend. I still need to go out and deliver hay to the various groups of pigs. Next on the list.

    The pigs take the snow in stride. Literally, they walk from their shelters to the water areas and whey tubs. They create paths which they pretty much stick to for the winter. I purposefully set the sleeping well apart from food and water so they get up and about and so the manure gets spread. Generally this is good although on a very windy day like today it may be less ideal as they may drink less whey than they would on a nice day. Wind breaks are key – I build many with round bales of hay as well as snow banks and stone walls. The pigs have sharp pointy feet so they tend to stay down off of the snow banks, preferring their paths and the ones I cut for them. This helps to keep them off the kids’ snow boarding and sledding slope in the south field.

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