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How to use roof & gutter heat cables

Posted by tippycat (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 31, 09 at 23:46

I have heat cables on my roof & in my gutters and downspouts. When my roof starts getting snow on it, I do not turn on the heat cables (I have an inside electric switch) because I never know if the snow will continue and I am trying to use the cables efficiently (cut down on my electric bill!) Given the winter we have had thus far coupled with the above philosophy, I now have heavy ice build up in the gutters and plenty of icicles. I just do not know how to use these cables!
Should they be kept on through the night when temperatures will be declining?
Should they be on only at certain temperatures?
How can I stay ahead of the game?
I would appreciate any advice or one's own experiences.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to use roof & gutter heat cables

If you have snow on the roof you run them when ever the temp is above about 28F. If you run them when it is too cold the water will melt around the cables but freeze before it drain way.

RE: How to use roof & gutter heat cables

I was told there is a thermostat which automatically turns them on and off at certain temps - since ice damns only form during a certain range of temperatures around freezing there is no point keeping the cables on if its too cold or too warm for ice damns to form.

Im not sure if this is something that can be added to already existing cables or if you have to buy a set which has the thermostat already on it.

What I'm interested in hearing is if this really works - does it really completely keep your ice damns from forming? I have a really bad problem but would hate to go thru the expense of installing them only to find they don't work or only partially work. t.i.a.!

RE: How to use roof & gutter heat cables

For whatever reason, this has been a particularly bad winter for ice dams. Roof heating cables do work, but not very well when there is a heavy ice/snow accumulation or when the temperatures are especially cold; in other words, they work poorly at the very times you need them most. The other problem with them is that they can be a fire hazard if flammable debris such as leaves, pine needles, etc. accumulate around them.
Using a roof rake - available at large hardware stores and home centers - can be difficult, but will eliminate ice dams before they form by keeping the roof snow free. Another important prevention measure is installing an ice and water shield membrane on the entire roof deck before reshingling - this doesn't prevent ice dams but does keep water from backing up under the shingles ands leaking into the house.

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