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Roof heating cables

After last years record snows in NE, I am thinking of installing heating cables to prevent the formation of ice dams or at least try to minimize ice dams and allow melting water to flow off the roof. I have heard both favorable and unfavorable reports as to how effective they are. If cables are installed at the bottom of a roof does that only encourage ice dams to form above that area? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Re: Roof heating cables

There are multiple brands of heating cables for roof eaves and gutters. The intent is to keep the gutter and the overhanging portion of the roof (roofing beyond the exterior wall) clean and free of a snow load.
Some issues with heating cables are most systems just have a plug or simple on/off switch. Typically they get turned on and left activated for days or weeks at a time. This intense heat will dry out the roof. Essentially accelerating the aging of the roofing material shedding life rapidly.

There are systems available that are thermostat controlled and moisture controlled automatic on/off. Other systems that use a antifreeze filled copper tubing in lieu of an electric cable, provide a more mild heat with longer life span.

If the roof was installed properly any ice dam on the roof should not cause a leak. Maybe plugging in an updated detail into the existing roof is a better route to take?

If the snow load is so great that you need to remove it from the structure you stand the chance of damaging the heating system by doing so.

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