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Circuits for Snowmelt

by KarlaMartin

The formation of large icicles or a ridge of ice along a roof’s edge is a sure sign of potential problems. If you see ice build-up in typically ice-free areas, you likely have an ice dam in progress. Common areas to check are the sides of exterior walls and along exterior vents, window frames, and soffits.

The earlier you can detect signs of ice dam formation, the better you can prevent damage. Here are several causes.

  • Poor Insulation and Ventilation. Inadequate insulation causes too much warm air to leak into your attic. When excessive heat builds up, the snow on the roof melts. If this occurs beneath a thick blanket of snow, you may not notice it right away. As meltwater runs off, it freezes near the edges where your roof is often colder.
  • Mild Daytime Winter Weather. Colorado winter days with sunshine and temperatures just above freezing followed by nights that fall below 32 degrees result in a cycle of thawing and freezing on your rooftop, promoting the buildup of ice.
  • Flat-Pitched Roofs. Roofs that angle at a flatter pitch are more prone to having ice dams than steep roofs since water doesn’t’ drain as effectively.
  • Deep Snow Piles. A substantial snowfall producing four to six inches or more on your rooftop can be dangerous – especially when combined with other conditions that contribute to ice dam formation.

Circuit for Snowmelt

A good way to prevent ice dams is the installation of heat cables. Electric heat cables are installed along the edge of a roof to melt snow before an ice dam forms. Heat cables are high-resistance wires that you mount in a zigzag pattern. The heat cable is then run inside a downspout and plugged into an outdoor GFCI receptacle.

 

Heat tape can remain plugged in if it has a built-in thermostat. The thermostat automatically turns on the power (and in turn, heat) when the temperature drops to freezing and turns it back off when the temperature rises. Even though they remain plugged in, the tapes will not draw electricity continually.

 

If you need assistance in preventing ice dams on your rooftop and gutters, contact our licensed electricians for a complimentary estimate.

 

Bell Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical

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