Ice melter cable - Thoughts?


#1

I’ve been thinking of installing these on my two level raised ranch to reduce the risk of ice and snow damage.Anybody out here offering this type of service?


#2

No i dont and the reason why is it only moves the ice up the roof away from the ice and water. If the roof is properly ventilated and properly insulated ice damning will me at a minimum.


#3

Yes, but only as a last resort. There are situations where it would be impractical or un-economical to remedy poorly designed roof structures to improve ventilation.

Properly installed, heating cables do work well for preventing ice dams.

But:

They don’t look nice on your roof.
They use extra energy, although minimal.
They clog your gutters and downspouts with extra wires and fasteners.
They are temporary, lasting only a few years before needing replacement.

If possible, it is always better to improve your insulation and ventilation first.


#4

I recently had a customer call me to look at a leak(I re-roofed the house this past summer)when I pulled up I saw 6" of ice in the gutters.I installed 2 rows of I&W when i did the roof so I could not see how the roof could be leaking. They said that the water was running down the wall and out of the window molding,with no staining on the drywall at all.
I saw that the ice was hanging out of the soffits(vinyl vented)and the whole overhang was full of ice…original soffit has 4 solid,to 1 vented.The worst area of build up is over the cathedral area. I figured that heat loss,and in adequate ventilation are to blame.(I am guessing that some of the water is condensation running out of the insulation baffles and into the soffits.)I guess that the only way to find out is to tear out the soffit and see what is going on…
Any one else have any thoughts on this?


#5

All the damage I have seen was due to the gutters being full of Ice and no were for the water to drain. If they come up with heated gutters I believe that the problem would be gone. Other then that, If you remove the gutters the problem goes away. Maybe removable gutters for winter months. It is not a venting problem. It is a fast thaw problem. 14" or more of snow melting in 8 hours time. But they say you can also rap the I&W Shield over the fascia board before applying the gutters. But I have seen the problem still exist. Heated gutters or just remove them during the winter. Think about it! before gutters the problem was not heard of. But heated gutters + heated down spouts and drain areas. I have seen Ice Damming on flat roofs so bad that the water ran over the a/c unit curb, flooding out the store.


#6

Hi,

I would have no problem putting on heat cables to fix a problem.

They do not stop ice dams. The damage is eliminated with the cables. The water can flow off the roof and through the gutters to the ground.

The ones we have installed will only go on if there is moisture and freezing tempertures.


#7

Hi Jwoolfsroofing,

I would throw some calcium on the ice to stop the damage. When you have all the ice and snow off the roof put the heat cables on. This will fix the problem for the winter.

Then if they want to spend more money, you can figure out how to stop the problem with out heat cables.

I would not rule out that there are a few nails that did not seal. I have not seen this yet. I do not have all the faith most of yous put in storm gaurd.


#8

Thanks Lefty… When I broke some of the ice on the roof,there was no moisture at all(almost as if the ice was floating above the roof by 1/2 ") the shingles were dry, but there was water dripping out of the vent holes in the soffit. I believe that the nails all sealed,cause I installed the roof in June,and it was so hot I had to stand on a 2’x8’ sheet of foam to keep from scuffing the Fox Hollow Gray shingles…also the Gaf Weather watch was so slick you could not walk on it after you got to the other end.That stuff is a hazard when it is hot…only one chance to roll it out. If it is not straight,you can’t pull it back to start over…
I also have to add that this was my 1st call back ever…(I’m glad that it is nothing that I did wrong…)


#9

thisoldhouse.com/toh/skill-b … 04,00.html


#10

I have had my heat cable up about 7 years and it still works fine. I have an area on the Southern exposure where two roofs form a valley . I have probably the best ventilation there is . My entire soffit plywood is cut out and has perferated soffit and full vent ridge on the whole house.

All rafters ar baffled and the attic is cold. R48 insulation and I still get ice at the intersection of these roofs. I bought a 100ft cable new off e-bay fro 25.00. I have vinyl downspouts and I poked a hole half way up each down spout.

I looped the wire out the hole on one then ran it up the spout thru the gutter ( held down with stckey backed zip tie holders ) then when I got about 3 ft from the valley I ran it up on the roof with 3 zig zags then right up the valley.

Then down the other valley did the zig zag and in the gutter and down the down spout and back up to the end of the gutter and installed a GFI outlet that was switched to an inside switch.

Now when I see ice build up I turn the switch on inside if temp is above 15 degs and below 35 degs. The switch has a red light on it so you know if its on.

The wire will melt huge chanells in the ice and thru a foot of snow ! The water will then follow the channels to the gutter which is melted too and run down the down spot and drip out the hole I made in the spout.

Reason I didnt go all the way to the bottom of the spout is then the ice will build up and blok the hole. Also I had a chipmunk chew thru the wire and it quit.

I just cut the end off the wire and respliced it together and siliconed it inot a pc of rubber hose and its been that way ever since.

It does what its supposed to do but that said when I redo the roof I am going to ice and water that whole back roof to the peak and just forget it. It doen’t leak in but im a little anal so I dont want to take a chance.

I asked Easy Heat how long the wire will last and they said years ! Some say the heat from the wire drys out the shingles, this is crap, the wire barley gets warm, the sun on the shingles is 5 times hotter.

Again it does work its on the back of my house so you cant see it.

Good luck


#11

We install the heating/de-icing cables from time to time. Thery are more of a band-aid than anything else, and we do not warrant that ice won’t form. What I tell my customers is that Ice WILL form but you’ll probably be the first one in your neighborhood to lose the ice.

Here are the more permanent solutions: A properly installed roofing and gutter system with ice shield and all the necessary flashings to keep the ice out… But that’s still a band aid. Proper ventilation and insulation will really limit how much ice actually forms. In some climates there is nothing you can do about getting ice, which is why you want an ice shield. When installing a roof as a system, I don’t warrant the ice won’t form but I do guarantee the ice won’t get in!

Good luck.


#12

Grumpy, explain what you do and what is an ice shield ??

Do you mean ice and water shield ??


#13

roofwizards: its not the gutters. this problem has been around before gutters, and still exists on roofs that dont even have gutters.
the first 2 feet or so on a roof (the overhang) is not heated but then comes the heat of the house to thaw the ice that climbs up to it. rotten cycle. the ice actually pushes the shingles up and gets far enough up under and to the top of that shingle where it is then heated and melts and leaks inside. now if it can then just ride back out on ice and water shield (thus the name) that would be great. the best ice shield to use is “grace”. every nail that goes trough it is crucial. there cant be a hole. and make sure the end goes over the facia board or shadow board.
but the most important thing is proper ventilation. its cold air at the eaves and hot air the rest of the way to the top (ridge). if you can evenly distribute the air…then there goes the problem. there wont be a “freeze/thaw” line.


#14

Seems to be the weather for Ice

I have an R38C cathedral sunroom roof that faces south, properly vented. Gutters have been frozen pretty much for the past month due to snow storms. Snow fell without wind & covered the roof. Just enough sun every day to melt the stuff in the gutters & refreeze.
No leaks inside, I used ice shield all the way up the roof - well worth the added cost

It went up to 42 today, warm again tomorrow
So I hoping for more thawing
Water is running out of the gutters
I almost wish they were brown now instead of white


#15

I wish I had run the Ice and Water all the way to the peak in back. I notice I have some ice in front too ( North ) its about 2" thick and goes back up the roof about a foot, It is right over a bow window and the gutter is about half full.

It has never come in but they only put the ice and water 3ft up. Again when I redo the roof before I retire I am going to the peak in front and back and 6ft on the 2 ends ( hip roof )

I hate worrying about it coming in… :cry:


#16

[quote=“Remedial Roofah”]roofwizards: its not the gutters. this problem has been around before gutters, and still exists on roofs that dont even have gutters.
the first 2 feet or so on a roof (the overhang) is not heated but then comes the heat of the house to thaw the ice that climbs up to it. rotten cycle. the ice actually pushes the shingles up and gets far enough up under and to the top of that shingle where it is then heated and melts and leaks inside. now if it can then just ride back out on ice and water shield (thus the name) that would be great. the best ice shield to use is “grace”. every nail that goes trough it is crucial. there cant be a hole. and make sure the end goes over the facia board or shadow board.
but the most important thing is proper ventilation. its cold air at the eaves and hot air the rest of the way to the top (ridge). if you can evenly distribute the air…then there goes the problem. there wont be a “freeze/thaw” line.[/quote]

I’ve noticed more ice back up situations on houses with 12" or less eaves, in this area. Around here, most folks have R-38, or better in their attics, so excess heat isn’t really a factor. On southern exposures, the sun is usually the culprit. The roof will melt long before the gutters, unless your gutters are black, and they aren’t black on the side facing the sun anyway. I’ve got copper on mine, and have never had ice backup. They melt before the snow on the roof. As a matter of fact, I have an 8’ wrap around porch (2/12), uninsulated, that runs right into my 6/12 roof. I face east and west. That should be a recipe for ice backup, but nada.

Mike


#17

hey excal1, whats under the copper ?? Ice and water ??? I would like to see pics of it possible ??


#18

Sorry, I meant that I had copper gutters, not roof. My roof is concrete tile. And yes, the porch area is entirely covered in ice and water shield. I’ll try to post pics, but I’m new here, so I’m not sure how it will work out.
Mike http://www.roofing.com/images/topics/7277/img_1233763519.jpghttp://www.roofing.com/images/topics/7277/img_1233763564.jpghttp://www.roofing.com/images/topics/7277/img_1233763772.jpg