Deicing Cables: How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

Before you pull out your wallet to spend thousands on new roofing and water restoration services, think prevention. Ice damming and water damage prevention for your home’s roof during those really cold months starts with deicing cables.

Living in Southeastern PA during the winter months of December through March can be very snowy and icy. For example, Storm Jonas that passed through about 4 weeks ago dumped over 2 feet of snow in many parts of the region. Yesterday, (February 15th) we saw a little bit of snow during the day, and then sleet and freezing rain overnight, causing an icy morning commute.

Because the area we live in experiences snow and icy conditions during the winter, it’s crucial that our homes are prepared for anything that is thrown at us. We aren’t just talking about being prepared with a home generator for backup power, or shovels and salt for our driveways. Although those things are very important in our part of town, KB Electric LLC wants your home to also be ready for ice dams that can occur on your roof and in your gutters, which can cause water damage to your walls, ceiling, shingles, and other areas. 


What Is An Ice Dam?

Let’s first start with the definition of an ice dam: When your roof has snow or ice, it can freeze, thaw out, and then re-freeze again when it slowly melts down to where your gutters are located. This pattern of re-freezing can cause a block of ice to form on your roof’s edge (ice dam), and in your gutters, not allowing for any more water to be drained off of the roof. Because there is no path for anymore water to drain, the only place for it to go is through your shingles and other roofing materials, which can cause water damage in the home. Any type of damage is game when it comes to water not draining off of your roof, like damage to your ceiling, walls, insulation, shingles, etc.


deicing cables

Roof Deicing Cables


What Are Deicing Cables and How Do They Work? 

The solution for ice damming: deicing cables. Deicing cables are cables that are installed on the edge of your roof and in your gutters that use electricity to heat up and melt snow and ice so that ice dams do not form. After a snow or ice storm, or after you see an ice dam beginning to form, you would flip on a wall switch inside your home to turn them on (the cables are powered using an outdoor GFCI receptacle).  Once the deicing cables on the roof and in the gutter have melted a path for water to flow, the inside of your home should stay nice and dry.


deicing cables

Roof Deicing Cables


gutter deicing cables

Gutter Deicing Cables


Who Should Install Deicing Cables?

A professional, like a licensed electrician should always install deicing cables for your roof and/or gutters. If installed by an amateur, you may run the risk of prematurely burning out the cables, or literally burning the cables to a crisp (water and electricity do not mix!). In some cases, a person who doesn’t know how to install deicing cables will even see them fall off their roof during windy and stormy days. Deicing cables are powered by electricity, and electricity should only be worked on by someone who knows what they are doing. So don’t hesitate to call KB Electric LLC for any deicing cable installation services for your residential and commercial needs. 🙂