We are commonly asked, “will heat lines fix ice dam problems?” This question requires a little bit of clarity. Heat lines, often referred to as heat tape, heat cables or ice melt cables will NOT “fix” ice dam problems, they are a band-aid, but they can “prevent” leaks from ice dams if installed correctly. And in some unique cases if the cable is run close enough together can eliminate the ice dams from forming in a specific are. However, because ice dams form when heat loss escapes the home, unless the heat loss is stopped ice dams will likely form.
Heat lines however can “prevent” ice dams from creating leaking into the home by creating channels through the ice dams to relieve standing water behind the ice dams. Heat lines are like a Band-Aid and should never be the first step in fixing ice dam problems. There are proper steps to follow for fixing ice dam problems as addressed in our previous page called “preventing ice dams.”
Heat lines can be a very effective way to prevent damage when all other remedies are exhausted. There are certain situations where heat lines are the only answer but the majority of situations can be remedied without installing heat lines. Heat lines cost money to operate and are subjected to failure. Improving the insulation and ventilation on the other hand saves money and is not subject to failure. Ultimately, improving the insulation and ventilation will save you money whereas heat lines cost money to operate.
Will Heat Lines Fix Ice Dam Problems
Certain situations were heat lines are very effective at preventing ice dam problems would be multiple roofs that all drain into one small area. Another example would be a roof that has no overhang but simply a gutter along the roof edge, this gutter would be the only cold surface and would benefit from heat lines in the gutter and down spout.
When temperatures are just right there is a melt and thaw cycle that happens naturally on a daily basis regardless of the quality of the structure, and therefore heat lines can sometimes fix ice dam problems when all other solutions have been checked.
Will Heat Lines Fix Ice Dam Problems?
Our advice: “Before installing heat lines, exhaust all other remedies first such as improving insulation and improving ventilation.”