Roof and Gutter Heating Cable
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
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 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.