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"I want a service to install roof heat cables to prevent ice dams"

I have ice dams all over my roof this year and I'm starting to get water leaking into my house. I hear roof heat cables may prevent ice dams and leaking?

wanted by: BillF (21) in Westport, CT 06888 +
updated on: March 5, 2012, 4:19 p.m. (2 years, 1 month ago)
posted on: Jan. 31, 2011, 9:05 p.m. (3 years, 2 months ago)
tags: exterior gutter ice dams roof roofing snow water
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Roof Heat Cables: Advice and Information

An ice dam is created when snow melts over a warm section of roof, flows down to the cold eave, refreezes and creates a blockage (or dam) which causes future melt runoff to pool and potentially work its way under your shingles and into your home.

Roof de-icing cablesRoof Heating Cables
Water leakage from ice dams will likely stain your ceilings and do all kinds of other unspeakably bad things to your drywall, studs and insulation in your home's roof and walls.

Short of always shoveling the snow off your roof after a storm, your best solution is to install what are called "roof heating cables" (also called heat tapes or roof de-icing cables) or heated pans or heated mesh. Roof heating cables can be manually plugged into an outdoor standard or thermostatically controlled outlet or can be wired to a switch and timer in your house. When turned on, they will melt any ice dams that form at the edge of your roof, right above the eaves.

Roof de-icing cables are typically configured in a zig-zag pattern, spanning from the edge of the roof to about a foot or two up. Once installed, whenever you see those long icicles forming off of your roof, flick on the heating cable for a couple hours and they'll magically disappear.



Although heating cables will solve your immediate, visible problem, you should also address why the ice dams are forming in the first place. This site has some good analysis about what may be wrong with your insulation or roofing system.

(See similar advice I gave recently about removing ice dams).

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Get Matched To Roof Heat Cable Pros in your area and get free cost estimates for their service.

More information about ice dam removalWhat does it Cost for Ice Dam Removal?

How much does it cost to remove an ice dam?

Expect to pay between $350 and $600 for a company to drive out to your home and remove the ice dams from an average sized house. Typically an ice dam removal service will charge you a minimum of one hour and an hourly rate thereafter of around $300 per hour.

Ask prospective companies if they will assess a "trip charge" to drive to your house and what method they will use to remove your ice dams. The most common method for removing ice dams is with a pressure steamer. For more detail, check out this recent article about ice dam removal costs in Minnesota.

Keep in mind that removing roof snow will likely have to be done at the same time to prevent the recurrence of the ice dams. Use our free matching service to find a roof snow and ice dam removal company in your area and get an accurate quote for the job.

More information about ice damsWhat is an Ice Dam?

A roof ice damWhat is ice damming?
Any time snowfall builds up on a house, a pattern of melting and refreezing happens. In a ideal situation, the snowfall would melt from your roof, drain into the gutters, and pass directly to the ground. Unfortunately, two things work together to trigger issues: the outdoor temperature and the temperature in your attic space.

The warmer that your attic space is, the greater melt off that occurs at the roof. This melted snow would normally flow off the edge of the roof. However, when the air temperature is low, the runoff re-freezes near the edge of your roof, since the interior roof area is no longer getting heated up from the attic. This kind of refreezing progressively creates what is referred to as an "ice dam", an expanding mass of ice that obstructs the flow of the melted snow off the roof.

Once this ice dam develops to a specific level, the water from the melted snow "dams" up behind it and may eventually work its way beneath the roofing shingles and into your house. On a roof which has a minimal incline, a small ice dam can result in water back-up and seepage.

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