Attic frost on north side problem

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AntonWalker
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Attic frost on north side problem

Post by AntonWalker » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:58 pm

I saw frost inside our attic today. I heard droplets falling. This is what I saw, pics attached.


We did have a brutally cold winter this year -45c in Winnipeg.

The frost is only on the north side and the south side is clear.

What can I do to fix this and get rid of the frost?
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A. Spruce
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Re: Attic frost on north side problem

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:56 pm

Move to a warmer climate? ;) :mrgreen:

That's not something that I've personally had to deal with. I'm sure it's only the north side because that direction faces the coldest part of the storm.
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Shannon
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Re: Attic frost on north side problem

Post by Shannon » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:50 pm

I would bet many people have this same condition in older homes in the cold winter climate. This is pretty heavy build up so I would suspect that you have a great deal of moisture escaping the house into the attic and not a lot of ventilation up there? I actually just looked at mine but it is clear although we have hit about 4 milder days here now so mine may have cleared up already if I had any at all?
High humidity in the house and make the frost even worse and of course the extreme cold is not helping. Check to be sure you do not have exhaust fans from kitchen or bathrooms terminating in the attic and that they do vent to the outdoors completely.Check for a good seal on attic access panels and that they are insulated as well. Also poor insulation will increase this problem and the lack of a proper air/vapour barrier. On older homes you will many times not find any air/vapour barrier your you are fighting the worst cause right off the top.One other thing is checking that roof vents are not covered in snow and blocked off ,not allowing air movement.
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Shannon
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Re: Attic frost on north side problem

Post by Shannon » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:53 pm

I forgot to mention that there is really nothing at this point you can do with the frost ,it needs to thaw on its own and the attic is going to take some time to dry out. Increasing attic ventilation will be fairly critical to make this happen. It seems like the natural thing to do would be to open the attic panel and let heat in to warm it up but that is the worst you could do , that will just allow more warm moist air up there and add to the problem.
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DanM
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Re: Attic frost on north side problem

Post by DanM » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:03 pm

The frost is on the north side since the south side receives more sunlight over the course of the day during winter in the northern hemisphere.

As to the frost there are a few things you can check. Obviously the frost is caused by moisture in the attic air. You can't fully eliminate that moisture but you can try to limit it.

If there's no vapour barrier between the ceiling and insulation you should add one. You don't need to rip your entire ceiling down, you can just do it area by area (whatever the width of your poly roll is). Shovel the insulation out of the way, lay down some poly, tape/acoustical seal the joints around anything protruding through the poly (truss webs).

Seal any potential leaks in ductwork and pipes, especially bathroom exhausts. Aluminum tape all your duct joints, check for any holes and tape those shut.

You may need more ventilation in the attic. Older homes sometimes just have a few smaller intake vents cut into the soffits, and not very much in the way of exhaust vents on the roof. You may want to add more of each once springtime hits.

EDIT: Shannon is faster at typing than I am lol, but the point still stands. Keep warm humid air from the house from getting to the attic, and increase ventilation of the attic itself.

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AntonWalker
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Re: Attic frost on north side problem

Post by AntonWalker » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:31 pm

Thanks for the help and advice all. It’s muchly appreciated.

I did go up there and check again 10min ago and the frost is half gone, from the top peak down half way so I hope this will continue and just evaporate off.

Shannon I think your right with the roof vent getting blocked and not allowing air to escape.

We do have a bathroom vent and it’s ducted to vent outside, in spring/summer I will go up there and look but it never caused an issue last year.


I think it just might be the bitter cold snap followed by a mild/warm spell.

Like it was said, nothing I can do about it now. I bob put a piece of cardboard over the trap door to get into the attic to stop the water from making its way into the hall floor and don’t hear the drip sound.
Thanks again all :)

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