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Electric Cable Gutter De-Icers

Installing electric cable gutter deicers can help prevent damage to your house during periods of heavy winter snow and freezing temperatures. When ice collects at the lower edge of the roof, it can form a dam that causes melting snow and ice to back up under the shingles and into the roof space. This can sometimes result in damage to your shingles, water leaks, and structural damage to your house. Electric gutter deicers keep the ice from forming, so there is always a clear path for water to drain along the gutters and into the downspouts. These electric cables are designed to adapt to most roof and gutter configurations and are easy and inexpensive for the average homeowner to install.

If you are thinking of buying electric gutter deicers for your home, consider the following:

  • To determine the amount of cable you will need, multiply the length of your roof's edge by two to three (unless you want to skip warming the lower portion of the roof and heat only the gutter). Also add 1 foot to cover the cable needed to go in and down the eave trough and downspouts. One cable may cover both the roof and gutter areas, or separate cables can be used for each.
  • Check the maximum length of the cable in the system you are considering to make sure it is sufficient for your roof. Also, precut cables are not designed to be recut, so measure your runs accurately.
  • The cable kits usually include plastic or aluminum clips that are used to fasten the cables to the gutter and roof. The cable will need to be plugged into an electric outlet (usually 120v for residential use).
  • Heat output can be fixed, thermostat controlled, or by self-regulating cable, which is preferred since self-regulating cable itself acts as a thermostat to adjust the heat output all along its length based on its temperature. This means that the same cable will simultaneously deliver more heat to the portion that is in the shade than that in the sun. An added benefit is that you don't have to worry about overheating if two cables overlap.
  • Consider how you will handle "cold leads," which is the run from the power supply to the heat producing portion of the cable, to avoid wasting electricity warming up the path to the gutter.
  • Look for a system that gives a positive indicator that it is on, such as a power light, as it is otherwise difficult to test for warmth because of the placement of the cable.

Although electric cable deicers work far better than chemical deicers, they will not

work if you lose power in a storm. If you choose a chemical deicer, do so cautiously because they can be very caustic, discolor shingles, and damage flashings and downspouts. These chemicals can also adversely affect any plants in the ground underneath the gutters and beside the downspouts.

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