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De-Ice Your Roof With Heat Tape!

February 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 235

Ice dams can cause commercial building roofs to leak and are one of the most common problems to happen especially during the winter season. There are a variety of methods available to fix this problem; however, the best method is prevention and one of the best options in preventing these leaks is heat tape.

Heat tape is also referred to as "de-icing cables;" they are heated by electricity and used to melt ice from the area in which they are installed. They run across the roof top or in gutters to keep a path free for the melted water to run off and down the drain pipe or downspout.


It is imperative that heat tape be properly positioned. Poor installation of heat tape can result in even more damage to the structure. Depending on the design, it is best to be installed where ice dams usually form. This is the reason why most of these cables are placed along the eaves trough in a zigzag pattern because it creates a channel through which melted water can pass.

Areas such as intersecting roof planes or the side walls of a building where snow can be naturally trapped are additional locations where heat tape should be installed to help during winter time to minimize ice build-up and prevent leaks. It can be placed quickly, easily and inexpensively compared to what it would cost to pay for repairs caused by damage from ice dams.

Safety Recommendations

If improperly used, heat tape could start a fire. Safety recommendations provided by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (U.S. CPSC) need to be followed in order to avoid such an occurrence. It is important to read and carefully follow all of the manufacturer's instructions before installation. Although these safety instructions are generally found on the product box, below are some other practical tips to follow:

GFCI Protection - Make sure to only plug the grounded three-prong unit into a protected electrical outlet which is GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) protected. Cables - Replace the cables when they are older than three years or when there are signs of overheating such as cable discoloration, cracks or any apparent damage. Overlapping - If not recommended by the manufacturer, de-icing cables should never be put on top of each other as this could result in overheating and cause a fire. End-Cap - Double check to ensure that the sealed end-cap is protected from water leaks to avoid short circuiting as well as fires. Applications - Only use the heat tape for applications approved by manufacturers. There are certain devices that are designed only for pipes and not for use on gutters or roofs. Thermostat - If a thermostat is provided with the device, put it where the instructions advise for placement. For example, some of these thermostats can be left hanging in the air, while others need to be placed securely away from the snow.

One of the main purposes of heat tape is to preserve and prolong the life of a roofing system by helping to remove ice without causing a fire. With proper knowledge and adherence to the safety recommendations stated above, heat tapes can ensure that there will be fewer future problems with the roof!

Christopher Hunter is an expert in roofing information. To find out more about Roofs in Houston, go to our main website at:

Source: EzineArticles
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