Icicle lights may be pretty at holiday time, but if you have the real things, you may have a problem with ice dams.
Colorado is notorious for its wintertime freeze-and-thaw cycles. They play havoc with our roads and bridges, causing cracks and potholes. They crack our mountains, sending rocks and boulders tumbling onto highways and the cars driving on them, sometimes as large as the cars themselves. And they can wreck roofs and gutters, especially when ice dams are created.
What is an Ice Dam?
Ice dams are created when melting snow refreezes before being carried away by your gutters and downspouts. As the freeze-thaw cycle continues, ice builds up to the point that melt water doesn’t drain completely, eventually damaging soffits, facia boards, and, if it gets under your shingles, the roof underlayment itself.
Ice dams are a particular concern in Colorado, where bright, direct sunlight can cause snow to melt on days when the temperature stays well below freezing.
Preventing Ice Dams
The old-school way to prevent ice dams involved sweeping accumulated snow off the roof. Needless to say, it was both inconvenient and fraught with peril. Today, attic insulation, attic and soffit vents, and sealing leaks of warm air into the attic are a good first step to preventing ice buildup on your roof. When that’s not enough, roof deicing cables let homeowners avoid ice dams that occur despite those passive measures.
Deicing cables come in a variety of styles in various lengths and with different features. Some are designed to be installed under the shingles several feet from the roof’s edge. These are relatively inexpensive to install on a new roof before the shingles are laid down but are expensive and impractical otherwise.
For existing roofs, deicing cables are available that mount on the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern to create channels for the melt water to run into the gutters and be carried away. It’s also important to allow that water to flow away from the house to avoid foundation problems, just as you do with rainwater. That may require heating cables to be run inside downspouts too to prevent them from being blocked by ice.
Safely Installing and Maintaining Deicing Systems
While some deicing cables are advertised as “DIY friendly,” they all involve working high up a ladder and must be connected to an outdoor GFCI outlet. Besides the risk of accidents, the system must be properly installed for correct operation and long-term safety. Unless you’re very familiar with electrical loads and home wiring (and have cat-like reflexes) we strongly recommend hiring a professional to install your home deicing system.
Allstar Electrical Knows Deicing
The licensed pros at Allstar Electrical Services will install your roof deicing system safely and efficiently. First, we’ll help you select the deicing system and features that are right for you. Then we’ll determine if its electrical load can be carried safely by your existing service. Your outdoor outlets may be connected to household circuits that aren’t designed for the extra current needed for deicing, resulting in annoying breaker trips and potentially disastrous short circuits and overheating.
Once the system is chosen and electrical connections are ready to go, we’ll install the cables in the most efficient way for your roof design so you can rest assured that your roof will remain ice-free throughout this and winters to come.
If you need roof deicing or any other electrical work to get ready for the winter, give Allstar Electrical Services a call at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. We’re top-rated by the Better Business Bureau and a preferred contractor by Angi’s Home Advisor®. We continue to offer our services throughout the holiday season in compliance with COVID-19 best practices.
The pros at Allstar Electrical Services want to extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful and joyful holiday season. We look forward to serving your electrical needs through the remainder of the year and for many more to come.