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Tips & Tricks

Roof Cables

New Homeowner Edition: Your Guide to Ice Dams (and What to do About Them)

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You probably loved snow days when you were a kid—but once you’re a homeowner, a deluge of snow can be more cause for concern than excitement.

Large snowfalls can lead to snow accumulation and the formation of ice dams on your roof and gutters, which can seriously damage your home. We’re talking major roof damage, interior water leaks—they can even tear the gutters off your house. Fortunately, we’ve got an easy and effective way to protect your roofs and gutters without spending a fortune: Frost King’s roof heat cable system that melts ice dams and drains water away from your home.

First, you need to understand what ice dams are and how they cause damage. Ice dams form when snow melts high on the roof and refreezes on the roof eave. This happens when the roof over your attic space gets warm enough to thaw the underlayer of snow on your roof. The melted water trickles down between the outer layer of snow and the roof shingles until it reaches the eaves and gutters at the edge of the roof. Because this area of the roof tends to be colder than areas that are higher up, the water refreezes and forms into a mound of ice.

As snow continues to melt, the ice dam grows and grows and stops melted water from flowing off your roof and into your gutters. Trapped water can seep between shingles, loosening them and letting water leak into your house. Ice dams can also put stress on gutters and downspouts and cause expensive damage to these important systems. Because ice dams usually form under a layer of snow, you may not be able to see them—but you can look for telltale signs that they’re lurking under the snow on your roof, including icicles hanging off the roof edge, ice on exterior walls, or gutters that aren’t draining.

So, now that you know what ice dams are…what do you do about them? The heat loss that leads ice dams to form is typically caused by inadequate roof venting or insufficient ceiling insultation—and fixing either of these issues can be a big and expensive undertaking. That’s why so many homeowners turn to an easier and more cost efficient solution to put an end to ice dams: Frost King’s Roof & Gutter De-Icing Kit, which warms up the frozen dams and melts the ice away before damage can occur.

Our Roof & Gutter De-Icing Kits contain ready-to-install electric heat cables, shingle clips, and cable spacers. Installation is fairly simple. Cables are arranged in a zigzag pattern, starting at the roof overhang and running up to the warm area of the roof, and are clipped onto the shingles with the provided clips. Kits come in a variety of lengths, ranging from 30 to 200 feet.

Plan the pattern for your roof before you begin installation to ensure you have enough to run along the length of the roofline, in roof valleys, and around any problem areas such as skylights and dormers. You should also run cables in gutters and downspouts so water can keep flowing.

You will need a GFCI outlet to plug in the Heat Cable safely. To operate our Roof Cable Kits, you can turn them on manually or you can add our weather-resistant Roof De-Icing Cable Control, which features a state-of-the-art electronic sensor that turns the cables on only when needed to help save energy.

Before installing, be sure to read the detailed instructions and FAQs that are included with the kit or available for download on our site. For additional tips on installation, watch our new video that walks you through the process step-by-step—and get ready to say goodbye to ice dams for good:

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