Gutter heaters can prevent ice dams and icicles!
Ice dams result from the gradual melting of snow on the roof caused by heat loss from the house/building, solar gain (the sun warms the snow and roof surface), and temperature fluctuation. When snow is melted at below freezing temperatures, it can refreeze in the gutter. This is because the gutter is exposed and uninsulated by the snow on the roof.
Homes and buildings without gutters can suffer from ice dams as well. Again, it is the exposed, uninsulated roof edge where the melt water will refreeze. Removing the gutters from a home will not stop ice dams from forming. And, it can lead to foundation problems and wet basements.
How can gutter heaters prevent ice dams and icicles?
It is a simple matter of keeping the gutters and downspouts warm enough to prevent the water created by the melted snow from freezing. Using gutter heaters to accomplish this is the most effective method to prevent gutter ice dams and icicles.
Gutter heaters are more that just stringing up the hardware store zig zag heat tape on the roof edge. It involves better design. A high-quality self-regulating heat cable can be routed in an aluminum housing called a Cable Cover Bracket (CCB). This design greatly improves the heat transfer of the heat tape to the gutter and also serves to protect the gutter heat cable.
It is also important to route the heat cable through the downspout. If this is not done, the melt water in the gutter can refreeze in the downspout and cause them to burst open or back up. The heated gutter heat cable cover bracket is not used in the downspout of course. It is easiest to disassemble the downspout first to easily route the cable through it. When putting the downspout back together, great care should be taken so as to not allow the downspout fasteners to damage the heat tape.
How effective are gutter heaters at preventing roof and gutter ice dams?
Gutter heaters can be highly effective at preventing ice dams. If you don't allow the melt water to refreeze in the gutters, ice dams cannot easily form. For many homeowners, the addition of gutter heaters (the gutter heat cable used in the gutter bottom and downspout along with the addition of the heat cable cover bracket - CCB) may be all that is needed. If more roof ice prevention is needed because of greater snow depth, architectural features (valleys, dormers, etc.), greater heat loss and other factors, then it is as simple as adding to the system. Gutter heaters are always used, so starting with them is a wise decision.
The bottom line on gutter heaters for roof ice dam prevention!
Just stringing the hardware store zig zag heat cables in the gutter bottom is not the place to start. Many of our customers come to us after having tried this method. Don't go through that frustration. Our top of the line self-regulating heat cable will last for years - a decade and more. Couple these heat cables with our heavy gauge aluminum or copper roof heat cable cover bracket (CCB) and you have a system that will provide you with years of worry-free ice dam prevention protection.
If you need help with layout, design or just need to find out how to order - fill out the form HERE and we will be happy to help.