Roof and Gutter Heating Cable

By Robert Robillard on Home Maintenance

How Does House Heat-Loss Create an Ice Dam?

The heat from the house travels to the underside of the roof surface in three ways:

  • Conduction – Heat warming the building frame.
  • Convection – Rising air [air leakage through plumbing pipes, chases, and other penetrations]
  • Radiation – Sunlight
air leaks

Example of air leak in attic

This heat melts the snow on the roof and the melted water drains down the roof, under the snow. When this melted water reaches the roof’s overhanging edge it freezes the water, forming a dam.

This blocked or “dammed” water then pools, backing up the roof and resulting in a roof leak. Ice dam leaks cause costly damage and can become a health problem if moisture trapped inside the house causes mold to grow.

Roof and Gutter Heating Cable

Roof Ice and Snow Melting Cables

Homeowners often don’t have the budget to fully insulate their attics, and they often don’t want to deal with the hassle of a full-scale roof renovation. In these situations, I advocate installing a roof and gutter heating cable system.

I use a company called WarmUp Inc and use their Warmup Roof Deicing Cables. These self-regulating cables work with “smart” controllers and sensors to melt snow and ice, allowing water to drain from the roof. The system prevents the ice from forming a complete dam and keeps a drain path open for water to drain off the roof, and through and out of gutters.

While this roof and gutter heating cable system does not completely cure ice dams, it does prevent ice dam leaks and subsequent damage. The goal is to get the water off the roof and through the gutters before it refreezes.

Roof and Gutter Heating Cable

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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