In winter, icicles on roofs are more than just a danger to the people below them – they are often a symptom of ice damming. Ice dams on roofs can lead to costly repairs for homeowners, but even in long, cold winters, the damage is preventable with electric heating cables to protect roofs, downspouts and gutters. Click here for our de-cing products to start protecting your home from winter weather.
What are ice dams?
Ice dams occur when improperly insulated or poorly ventilated roofs – more commonly found in older homes – leak heat from the interior of your home, melting the snow on your rooftop. The meltwater travels down the roof toward the eaves, where the colder outdoor temperature refreezes the water before it can drain, creating an ice dam. As the melting and refreezing process continues, water that does not refreeze is blocked by the ice dam and begins to collect with nowhere to drain. This collected water can seep into your home through tiny cracks or in the spaces between shingles, causing costly repairs by damage to insulation, walls and ceilings.
How can I prevent ice dams?
Some roofs can be retrofitted with vents and insulation to improve airflow, keeping temperatures stable and eliminating the melting and refreezing cycle. But in places like soffits and overhangs, venting may not be possible. Short-term solutions, such as manually removing ice dams from your roof with a ladder and shovel, can be unsafe for both you and your roof. Because of the melting and refreezing cycle, the removal process needs to be repeated often, making this short-term solution an unsustainable one.
For long-term safety and protection of your roof and home from ice dams, a de-icing electric heat cable system from Warm Your Floor is an ideal solution to prevent ice dams before they form.
What will I need to install a de-icing system for my roof?
A complete roof and gutter de-icing system includes self-regulating cable that delivers heat when you need it and shuts off when you don’t, a sensor for activating the system automatically and a controller. For smaller areas, a combination sensor-controller is available. You’ll also need components for sealing and attaching the cable to the outside of the roof and inside gutters and downspouts.
To prevent ice dams, heating cable is first installed in a zigzag configuration on problem areas of the roof to keep the them clear of ice. The cable is then attached inside the gutter and downspout to create and maintain a continuous path for melt water to drain off the roof. The cable is compatible with most standard roof materials, including rubber and tar, shake and shingle, wood, metal and plastic. Compatible downspout and gutter materials include metal, plastic and wood. Cable is available in many standard lengths, from 6 up to 100 feet.
The system can be manually controlled by connecting to a switched outlet or set on a simple timer, but this is not recommended for larger areas. The energy efficiency and effectiveness of the system may be lessened because the system is at risk of being left on when it’s no longer needed, or off when de-icing is needed most. For optimal energy efficiency, a sensor and controller or a combination sensor-controller model should be installed – ideally in the roof gutter – so that the system can respond automatically, quickly and effectively to moisture and temperature conditions on the roof.
An investment in protecting your home today can prevent costly winter weather damage to your roof tomorrow and in years to come. Before the temperatures drop, contact Warm Your Floor for expert advice on the right de-icing solution for your commercial or residential project!