Ice Dam Prevention
Utah Ice Damming Prevention
Ice damming occurs when the temperatures stay below 32 degrees, which happens a lot in Utah, and snow is present on the roof. Heat comes up from the house through the roof, and melts the snow. The melt-water then runs down until it hits to the eave area where the warm air stops coming through and the water re-freezes. As this melt, run-off, re-freeze cycle continues, a dam of ice begins to back up the roof. The water continues to flow and back-up and will start come through the roof at joints in the shingles and underlayment. Even a properly installed roof can leak from ice damming. Geographical location, architecture, and the direction the home faces will also influence whether a home is likely to have ice damming problems. Complicated roof lines (areas in the roof valley that don’t get sun), and homes in areas like Park City, Immigration Canyon, Suncrest, and Mountain Green are common candidates for ice damming. Strategically placed heat tape in the gutters and downspouts will keep ice dams from forming on the roofs in lower elevations as well as most homes along the valley benches.
At higher elevations heat tape is placed in the gutters, downspouts, and additionally it’s woven on the eaves and in the roof valleys as well. Extreme elevations or areas of architecture that are susceptible to major ice dams will need heat tape in gutters and down spouts, then aluminum alloy thermal panels can be installed on the roof eaves to alleviate major ice dams, see http://www.tpanels.com/ Once the ice dam has formed its has to be eliminated before it will stop causing the roof to leak, the heat tape then can be installed but usually has to be re-adjusted after all the snow and ice is completely melted out of the gutters and downspouts and off the eaves. Ice damming can also cause considerable damage to your home’s exterior as well.
A build-up of ice in the wrong places can cause leaking, roof damage, and even injury.
A commercial grade heat tape, like that shown above, properly placed can help manage a bad ice damming problem.
Ice dams like the one shown above can back water up to a place where it was never intended to be.
- RAM Builders uses self-regulating heat tape. When temperatures fall below 40 degrees the heat tape turns on, as the temperature continues to fall more electrical current will pass through the heat tape.
- We also use GFI protected heat tape so if the protective wrap around the wire is damaged the electricity to the heat tape will be turned off automatically.
- The heat tape we use is also commercial, contractor grade, heat tape. If you have your heat tape turned off and it storms, this type of tape still has enough power to melt snow and ice that has already formed.- Home Improvement Centers (like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Etc.) sell inexpensive heat tape that doesn’t melt the snow and ice if the temperature falls below 19 degrees, and it has to be left on in order for it to work. That type of tape is also not GFI protected.http://www.drexanheattracer.com/
- RAM Builders of Utah can provide additional electrical power if needed and place the heat tape on lighted switches (usually in the garage) that show when the heat tape is on, which makes it convenient to turn it on and off.
The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, is pertinent in regards to the management of ice dams. Ice damming can cause water to pour into your home ruining whatever it touches; flooring, drywall, paint, furniture, electronic equipment, etc. Installing heat tape or thermal panels in suspect areas or in areas with past problems before the ice dam occurs is always so much less expensive.