Hot Tape, Cool Savings

Monday October 28, 2013

By Christophor Jurin

Ease of installation and affordability make heat tape a great option for protecting your home from the dangers of ice dams. If you are looking for a relatively easy solution to keep snow from accumulating on your roof top, heat tape may be a wise investment for your home or building. It can be found at most home improvement stores and can be adjusted to fit the appearance of any roof or gutter for snow-melting and de-icing purposes.

Prevent ice dams with heat tape

Inadequate air flow to a structure's roof top in geographic locations with colder climates can result in ice dams. These ice dams impede melting snow from traveling through the gutters and downspouts, hindering water drainage. Subsequently, the snowfall water becomes stagnate and sinks into the roofing shingles, sheathing and decking.

Heat tape can be purchased in fixed lengths, usually between 2 and 20 feet based on the style. It is typically available in both 120 and 240 volt versions with power options between 50 to 135 watts. There are also different width options ranging from 1/2 inch to as much as 3 1/4 inch. Temperature control is needed to adjust to the changing weather conditions. A thermostat can be installed so that if your temperature drops to a selected suggested degree, the device will automatically activate.

Be mindful that while heat tape saves you money by protecting your home from the serious damages of ice dams, it runs off of electricity which can and will translate into a higher electric bill. Typical heat tape burns electricity at 6 to 9 watts per foot per hour. Translate that into 100 feet of heat tape operating all day and night, every day of the week can easily add between $40 and $60 to your monthly bill. A timer is a wise investment to keep the system running efficiently and turning off automatically when it's not needed. Residential audit programs recommend using a timer to run heat tape from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. whenever snow or ice is sitting on your roof.

Photo © www.istockphoto.com/aimintang Gutter heat tape can help prevent ice dams.

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