Snow and ice buildup on rooftops can become quite hazardous if ignored. Ice dams and icicles can form, damaging the structure and creating hazards to pedestrians. Built up snow can suddenly slide or fall from the roof. With a heavy enough snow load, roofs can collapse entirely.
So how do you melt ice dams or snow buildup on your roof?
Snow Melting Chemicals
A common DIY fix is to fill an old sock or stocking with ice melt chemical and lay it across the ice dams. While this may help break down ice buildup, the area affected is limited and snow melting chemicals can be harmful and damaging to surfaces.
While this approach doesn’t melt the ice dam, roof rakes can be used to remove some of the snow buildup and expose the ice to additional sunlight (assuming the area receives sunlight).
Professional crews can be hired to come and remove ice dams and buildup with steam equipment. This can be costly, and requires heavy equipment on your roof.
Heat Tracing Cables
Sometimes called heat tape or gutter tape, heat tracing cables can be laid in gutters and attached to roof eaves. These cables are best used for prevention and provide a path for melting snow and ice to escape the roof rather than refreezing and creating build up. If you have a trouble spot, heat tracing cables can go a long way toward long term management. Be aware of the varying quality of cables however. Something off the shelf at a big box store may need to be replaced regularly and can have a lower heat output, as compared to an industrial quality cable with more robust construction.
Total Roof Deicing
The best ice dam solution is complete prevention. Melting ice dams before they ever form is possible with a low voltage roof deicing system. Warmquest carries the only 2 systems listed for installation beneath roofing materials. ZMesh and Tuff Cable with Invizimelt Panels are perfect for lasting, permanent deicing solutions. Installed on projects large and small worldwide, the heating element is attached to the sub-roof and then covered by the final roofing material. ZMesh and Invizimelt both serve to heat entire surfaces, rather than the small paths provided by heat tracing cables. With industry leading 25 year warranties, these systems will outlast your roof.