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Getting Rid of Ice on the Roof – The Effectiveness of Heat Tapes

Kyle Brink

15 October 2017

Based on Internet searches, it was found that people who have been searching for methods of getting rid of ice dams and icicles on the roof are likely to find information pertinent to an effective heating cable system. The system is capable of eradicating the accumulation of ice dams and icicles in an efficient and safe manner. The cable can be bought from a majority of hardware stores. It is used mainly on buildings situated in cold climate areas particularly the snowy regions. It comes in the form of a heat tape – you can slice and splice it to make a good fit for your gutter’s or roof’s design. It is used primarily to melt snow and ice.

When your roof is not properly ventilated during the winter, a typical problem that may occur is ice dam formation. The ice dam typically appears at the end of your roof. This prevents any melted ice from travelling down through the gutters and downspouts before it is sent down the drain for proper elimination. Over time, snow that melts will be absorbed into the shingles, decking and sheathing. Luckily such a problem can be solved for good with the use of heat tapes. This is a cost-effective and effective treatment option and you can apply the tape on your roof, gutters, valleys and downspouts.

The Application Procedure

The main aim of applying a heat tape is to create an above-freezing temperature within the problematic areas. By applying the tape on the lower end of your roof, in the gutters, in the valleys as well as the downspouts, you’ll be able to prevent icicles and snow from building up at the eaves. Take note that with proper application your roof will be ice free and snow free, but this creates a clear passage for new batches of melted snow to travel via the eaves and into the drainage system.

What to Expect from Different Designs and Types of Heat Tapes

You can buy a heat tape in any length you desire. Commonly you’ll need around 2 – 20 feet, but this depends on your design option. The tape is commonly sold in versions of 120V and 240V. Its running power range starts from 50watts and can reach up to 3135watts. Varieties of widths are also available, and typically you’ll find a range that starts from 1 ½ and can reach up to 3 ¼ inches. The heat tape should be equipped with a temperature controller as well, and this is to accommodate to the changes of weather. A number of business premises choose to install a thermostat as the device will activate on an automated basis whenever there is a certain drop in temperature.

The Installation Procedure

Apparently it’s rather easy to have the heat tape installed so that your building can be protected from hazardous elements right away. Before the installation begins, make sure you inspect the roof to find out if there are any heating devices currently being used. You must never skip this step as a lot of fires are caused by improper installation of former heating cables, due to reports obtained from the USCPSC. It’s always vital to remind yourself to read the manual guides to assure total safety and as a precautionary action.

More Installation Tips

1. Dry Roof. You must only place a roof if it’s totally dry. Make sure you plan in advance and only do the installation during the fall season and not during winter.

2. Inspect Kit. It helps if you know the items contained in your kit. Make sure everything is intact. Common items to look for may include a thermostat, a control box, some cables and other related items.

3. Mount Control Box. Be sure to put the box in an easy to reach area and it should be visible at all times. Additionally, it’s good to consider placing the box nearby a socket, particularly beneath a soffit. To prevent cases of electrical shock, make sure the system is totally grounded.

4. Install the Roof Tape. When the control box has already been attached, the heat tape should be installed in a zig-zag pattern. Bear in mind that the cover area should be positioned at least 2’ from the roofline. A regular kit often comes with some clips and these are hooked at the edges of the roof. Apply the tape and sensor cables covering the valleys, edges of the roof, eaves troughs and the drainage passageways. This is to prevent these areas from being prone to ice accumulation.

5. Look for Help. If you are unsure of the accuracy of an installation procedure, it’s best to contact a professional roofer to finish up the project before winter arrives.

Precautionary Actions

You must be extra cautious when a project includes electrical wirings and devices. CPSC suggests these tips when you are shopping for heat tapes and planning to install them by yourself.

1. Replacement. Heat tapes aged 4 years or longer and do not have any certifications for long-term usage must be entirely replaced to abide by the safety standards.

2. Plug Usage. It’s a must to use a three-pronged plug and make sure it is totally grounded.

3. GFCI. The use of GFCI is mandatory.

4. Overlap issue. Do not overlap a heat tape on top of one another unless it is a recommended method of application.

5. Product Accuracy. The use of the right items specifically made for roofing is crucial.

6. End Cap. Make sure the end-cap is tightly sealed and kept at a distance from the ground. This is to prevent the accumulation of moisture.

7. Thermostat. When you are using a thermostat, the manual guide should be referred to in order to know the right placement.

8. Maintenance. Once a heat tap has been installed, it’s good to conduct a periodical inspection to detect the presence of quality impairment such as changes in color, charring, breakage and cuts.

If you know a bit pertinent to heat tapes you’ll be able to reduce the potential of risks due to leakage on the roof that occurs during winter days. A thermostat aids in the process of heating the ice and snow, and together with the heat tape they curb the process of ice accumulation particularly on the edges of the roof. You can hire one roofer to carry out the task, and you can similarly get it done by yourself. However, calling a team of professional roofers proves to be the better option due to safety reasons.

In short, keep the formation of ice at bay, and heat tapes can do the trick in a tremendously effective way!