How Do Heat Cables Work
Do heat cables work? The most common questions we receive from clients are in relation to ice damming prevention and heat cables. We have a lot of literature already written on the advantages of heat cable and how it can help to proactively prevent ice damming, which you can find links to below. This time, we wanted to dive a little deeper into exactly what you can expect from your heated gutter, and address some unique circumstances or scenarios that can affect your individual home, and its ice buildup.
Lets start by first briefly reiterating what ice damming is and how it is caused. Ice damming occurs when the heat in your home escapes through your attic making your roof warm. After a snowfall, the warm part of your roof melts the snow that has accumulated making that water flow down towards the bottom of your roof and gutter system, which are still cold. Once the melted snow reaches the cold surface, it refreezes causing ice buildup on the edge of your roof and gutter system.
Ice damming causing pulling of the gutter system from the home. Most likely caused by heat loss and the metal roof.
For more on ice damming, visit the below blogs:Ice Damming: Are You At Risk?
If your home is experiencing ice damming, there are a few things you can do:
For more on heated gutters, visit the below blogs:5 FAQs About Heated Gutters
They Are An Added Utility Expense
If you have an average-sized roof then you will be looking at an average cost of $7.25 per day to run your roof heat cables. In the winter months when you will most likely need to run your roof heat cables all day for days at a time, that adds up to a lot of extra money. Now the argument can be made that $7.25 per day may still add up to less money than repairing a collapsed roof, which is true. But in most cases, homeowners dont actually need to install roof heat cables. Some regular maintenance and a bit of due diligence are enough for most homes to avoid dangerous ice dams in the winter. For instance, raking your roof when snow accumulates on it is an effective and cheap way to protect it against ice dams.
Roof And Gutter Heat Cables Prices
Heat cables for roofs and gutters have widely varying price points, primarily depending on the length of the cable. To simplify comparisons, calculate the cost of each cable per foot. This allows you to fairly compare prices of an 80-foot cable with a 90-foot cable.
To further compare products, pay attention to the length of the cold lead. With a lengthy cold lead you pay a little more, but you also potentially avoid the extra cost of an extension cable.
Inexpensive: Inexpensive heat cables that have only basic features may cost $1 to $2 per foot for cables of less than 50 feet in length. For cables with lengths greater than 50 feet, you may pay $0.50 to $1.50 per foot for a basic cable.
Mid-range/Expensive: Heat cables with plenty of extra features have a higher cost per foot. For cables of less than 50 feet of length, expect to pay $2 to $4 per foot. Beyond 50 feet in length, high-end heat cables range from $1.50 to $3 per foot.
If your heat cable doesnt ship with the clips needed to secure it to the roof, youll need to spend a few extra dollars for this hardware.
Don’t Miss: How To Measure A Shingle Roof
What Causes Ice Dams
After a significant snow with sustained sub-freezing temperatures, your roof may be covered by a thick layer of snow. Your roof should ideally be the same temperature or colder than the air outside, so snow would melt from the outside layer and evaporate or run off the top of an outer, icy crust. Often, however, a homes heat seeps through your ceiling into the attic and through the roof. This makes the roof warmer than the outside temperature and melts the bottom layer of the snow sitting atop it. On sloped roofs, the melted snow trickles down the roofunder the snowpack. But the edges of the roof are colder, since they hang over cold air rather than sitting on top of the heat-leaking home. When the runoff gets to the colder edges, it freezes, blocking further runoff like a dam.
Over time, this mound of ice builds up it can happen extremely quickly, especially if your gutters are obstructed. As the ice dam grows, it prevents water from flowing off the roof, giving it a great opportunity to seep between the seams of your roof shingles and into your home. This can cause damage to your roof structure and insulation, water infiltration, and harmful mold growth. The ice blockages can also damage gutters and create hazards for people and animals below.
How To Determine What You Need For A Roof And Gutter Heat Cable System
The simplest way to figure out the parts and pieces needed for your heat cable system is to plug in a few pieces of basic information into an online Heat Cable Calculator. Measure the length and depth of your eave. If you have gutters and a valley, plug in that info as well. No special skills or knowledge are required just answer a few basic questions. The heat tape calculator will immediately tell you the cable length you need in addition to the number of heat cable roof clips required. Its that easy. You can use this information to purchase any self-regulating heat cable system you like.
Also Check: How To Seal Your Roof
Can You Leave Heat Tape Plugged In
Modern heat tape can remain plugged in if it has a built-in thermostat. The thermostat automatically turns on the power when the temperature drops to freezing and turns it back off when the temperature rises. Even though they remain plugged in, the tapes will not draw electricity all the time.
However, its a good idea to make sure the heat tape is properly installed and placed in a satisfactory spot. If its placed in the wrong spot, it can remain wet year-round, which would cause the wire insulation to develop cracks and let in moisture.
Install Heat Cables To Melt Ice Dams
Measure your roof. Measure the roof edge along which youll be installing the cable, allowing for a little extra when there are dormers, valleys, gutters, and downspouts to go around. The total area you want to cover is largely up to you, but make sure to focus on areas where you see ice accumulating or that are especially hard to reach from the ground .
Get the heat cables. Head over to your local hardware store and get some heat cables. Most are designed to be installed in a zig-zag pattern, so youll need to multiply the measurements you took earlier depending on how deep your eaves and overhangs are. For example, one brand says to multiply by 5.3 for a 24-inch overhang.
Ladder up so you can install the cables. Before you climb up, use a roof rake to remove excess snow from your roof. This will give you a cleaner working area and easier access to the ice. When youre done, grab that ladder and set it to a height where you can comfortably reach the roof. Position it so its at the edge of your roof that runs perpendicular to the eaves youll be lining. Dont forget to phone a friend for help safety first, people.
Run some cable along your gutters. If you have enough excess heat cable after lining your roofs edge, you can run the end back through your gutter and down the downspout. If you do, clip the cable to the drip loops you left at the bottom of each triangle in step 4. Or run a second cable through your downspout down to the outlet.
Also Check: How To Build A Living Roof
There Are Better Ways To Address Ice Dams
Perhaps the most important reason why roof heat cables are ineffective for preventing ice dams is that there are much better ways to prevent them. In most cases, ice dams are caused because heat is escaping from inside, melting snow on top of the roof and the melted snow runs down to a colder area of the roof and refreezes. Fixing these heat leaks is the most effective and beneficial way to prevent ice dams and lower your heating costs to boot.
The Physics Of Ice Dams
Ice dams occur because snow and ice on the roof melt due to the home’s interior heat. When this mass travels down the roof, it freezes again as it reaches the colder exposed overhangs or eaves. Over time, the frozen melt-off can build up into a dam barrier that causes ice and water to back up under the shingles. Inside the home, the dripping water can damage the interior ceiling and wall surfaces. Additionally, the sheer weight of ice dams may damage the roof overhangs and gutters.
You May Like: How Much Does 1 Bundle Of Roofing Shingles Cover
How Does Roof Heat Tape Work
Using ice melting cables for roofs to prevent ice dams isnt rocket science, as the working process is very easy to figure out.
First, the heating cable is installed in the areas where the ice dams are likely to form . They are usually laid in a zig-zag pattern and held to the roof with the use of clips and nails.
After the cable has been installed in the relevant areas, it is plugged into an electrical outlet, which is usually inside the house and turned on.
Once its on, it begins to produce warmth, which slowly melts portions of the ice dam away from your roof. If it doesnt melt the entire ice dam, it will create an opening in-between which will allow subsequent snow melts to flow away.
There are two types of heat tapes
- Regular heat tape
- Self-regulating heat tape
The regular heat tape produces the same amount of heat for as long as it is turned on since it cannot automatically regulate its output. As for the self-regulating versions, they can adjust the heat output according to the outdoor weather.
The self-regulating heat tapes are more power-efficient than regular heat tapes.
Why Acquire Deicing Cables Installation On My West Island Of Montreal Home
In 2019, ice accumulation experimented was unprecedented. Weather in the Montreal Quebec area has offered us challenges we now have to adapt with. My driveway, my walkway, and roof were utterly iced, to a point where it was dangerous for anybody coming to my house. All winter, I was deicing everything I could but, the roof edge was ice-up to no return. The only way I could have to keep this under control would have been with previous deicing cables installation. Now, melting is all over the roof and do not follow the attended path, but slides overall above the top, making melting a dangerous process as significant parts of snow and ice can slip right over the roof. Even for my own house, I will have to Consider Installing Deicing Cables before next fall. I do not want any further roof trouble our Roof Critical Snow Accumulations moments. Our Electricians will connect these deicing cables all summer long in West Island, Montreal neighbourhoods.
You May Like: Does Replacing A Roof Increase Home Value
Roof Eave Heater To Combat Ice Dams And Icicles
Many things can clog your gutters, and these include bird nests, rocks, tree leaves, pieces of branches, and ice dams.
Yes, ice dams can clog your gutters, and this will not only prevent proper flow, but the extra weight will also cause the hinges holding the gutters in place to loosen.
Of course, fixing damaged gutters will cost you a lot of money, which is why you have to do what you can to prevent ice dam formation in the first place.
Thankfully, ice dams can be prevented from forming in your gutters with the use of gutter heaters.
Care to find out what they are and how they can help? Then I suggest you read to the end!
When To Install Heat Tape
De-icing tape warms up snowy, icy roofs to melt accumulation. This process prevents ice dams but it has some pitfalls, such as:
- Heat tape may increase your energy bill by $40 to $70 per month.
- You must remember to turn it on and off as needed.
- It can be a fire hazard if installed incorrectly.
- Lifespan varies by product.
Instead, a pro can add insulation to your roof or improve ventilation to prevent ice buildup. But when traditional methods fail, heat tape is an option. A local home energy auditor or local roofer can help tell you the best ice-removal or prevention option for your home.
Read Also: How Much Do Louvered Roofs Cost
Get Started With Your Roof Deicing System Today
Winter has arrived, so nows the time to get started with your roof deicing system before the next big snowstorm hits. Whether you choose heat cables, heat tape, or another method entirely, you can be sure that theyll last for years to come with the correct installation and proper maintenance.
At Legacy Service, we provide all types of home exterior services. Whether youre in need of roofing installation for the home youre building, siding replacement for a more beautiful and durable home, or window replacement to increase your houses energy efficiency, you can turn to our team. If we install or replace your roof, dont forget to ask us about snow and ice protection.
Make sure the job gets done right the first time with local home exterior professionals. We provide service to homeowners throughout PA, NJ, and DE. Schedule a free estimate by either calling us at 215-798-9790 or contacting us here: .
Posted on Mar 3, 2021 in Roof
Read our news
HOW LONG SHOULD A ROOF LAST?ELEMENTS
A lot of elements play a role in maintaining the integrity of the roof, but as a homeowner, the most important components to pay attention to are the underlayment, ventilation, and material.
How To Measure Your Metal Roof For Deicing Cables
For the best installation, be sure to have accurate measurements of the roof and gutter areas that you want to heat.
Additional details like metal roof seam spacing, overhang width, downspout & valley length would be helpful for a detailed and efficient cable layout design.
Your WarmlyYours account manager will provide you with the assistance that you need to get the correct measurements. Once your measurements are completed, you will be contacted to discuss your options and to provide you with an accurate, no obligation quote and SmartPlan prepared for you by our engineers.
Recommended Reading: Can You Put Solar On A Metal Roof
Roof Clips For Metal Roofs
S-5-N and S-5-N Mini clamps were designed with patented S-5!® zeropenetration technology for application on the popular 1″ nail strip metal roof profiles: Taylor Metals’ Easy Lock, ASC Building Products’ Skyline Roofing®, McElroy Metals’ Meridian, New Tech Machinery’s FF100, and roofing types with similar profiles. The clamp boasts a wider throat that accommodates most nail strip profiles, minimizing the need to field crimp. An angled wall with a nose permits the S-5-N to engage the triangle type profiles during the installation processthere is no longer a need to hold the clamp in place while setscrews are tensioned. The combination of these two features allows the clamp to sit straighter on the seam. Nail strip profiles just got a whole lot simpler!
How Long Should Roof Heating Cables Be Left On
You should turn on your roof heating cables about an hour or two before the snow is expected. This helps the roof warm up so that the snow can start melting immediately. If the cables are not warm enough when the snow starts to fall, they may become overwhelmed and not be able to catch up.
The cables should be left on while theres still a significant amount of snow on the roof. This will vary depending on how much sunlight your roof gets. Some customers will be able to turn theirs off sooner than others. Its recommended that you observe how your roof works during the first year to get a better idea down the line.
Also Check: Can A Metal Roof Be Installed Over Shingles
Reasons Roof Heat Cables Are Ineffective For Ice Dams
If you have ever had to deal with busted up shingles and roof leaks due to an unchecked ice dam, you have probably considered roof heat cables. Roof heat cables, for those who havent ever had to think about them, are pretty much exactly what they sound like: lengths of cable, tape or wire that is installed on top of your shingles that heat up to prevent water from freezing on your roof.
It sounds like an innovative and clever way of preventing ice dams from forming on your roof. But before you haul off and pay someone to install them for you, take a minute to peruse our list of reasons why roof heat cables are actually not a great idea.
Pros And Cons Of Installing Heat Cables To Combat Ice Dams
As the weather grows colder, its a good time to perform some routine maintenance on your home, such as cleaning out your gutters, to get ready for the winter season. Is your roof in good shape and ready for another snowy, icy winter in the Midwest?
One of the difficulties of living in a climate that is prone to snow and ice storms is ice dam formation on your roof. Ice dams are the buildup of ice and snow on the edges and eaves of your roof. This can cause beautiful iciclesand damage to your roof, broken gutters, and water infiltration.
Don’t Miss: How To Figure Roofing Cost