The type of ice melt system your home or business needs depends on the projected snow loads where your building is located. The snow load is the accumulated snow from multiple snow falls that is projected to sit on your roof for an extended period of time during the winter months. Factors affecting snow load include snowfall, temperature fluctuations rising above freezing, wind that will blow snow off the roof and sunlight (or shade) which accelerates snow melting.
Snow Projections Affect Ice Dam Prevention Technology
We design and install the Ice Blaster Edge Melt System (EMS), engineered to minimize the formation of ice dams and icicles along the eaves and valleys of your roof. There are different product profiles for different parts of the roof, and your options also vary based on projected snow accumulation.
- Class 1 areas get heavy snow accumulation, averaging more than 15 inches of snow on the roof for much of the winter. Annual snowfall exceeds 100 inches or what you expect for elevations over 6,000 feet (New England Resort Areas) and areas surrounding the Great Lakes which get the higher lake effect snowfall.
- Class 2 areas have moderate snow accumulation between 6 and 15 inches of snow for significant parts of the winter. Their annual snowfall is under 100 feet. This area covers the upper half of the US except for coastal regions on the west coast and dipping down to the high plains and mountains in Arizona and New Mexico.
- For low pitch roofs (less than 3/12 roof pitch), you will use the same products but lower wattage heat cables.
Ice Dam Prevention Products
These ice melt systems are much more than heat cables. The system begins with an aluminum base panel designed for maximum heat transfer. The heat cables are seated in the base panel and distribute heat through the aluminum. The eave panels are installed along the roof edge (eaves) to minimize the formation of icicles and ice dams. The base of the panel sit on a waterproof membrane and patented heating cables (number of cables depends on snow load and system design) run through this base. The cover panel fits on top of the base. The panels run up to 10 feet, and they’re made of metal to maximize heat distribution across the covered area.
Panels for roof valleys distribute heat the same way eave panels work although they’re designed differently.
There is no roof overhang and they need to sit close to the metal roof flashing that prevents water from flowing down below the roof shingles. Depending on how much sunlight your roof valleys get, you may need valley panels on one or both sides.
The heating cables used with the eave and valley panels are designed for roof and gutter de-icing. The cables are self-regulating with the ability to slow the electrical flow as the cable warms to the desired temperature. These heat cables are both UL and CSA (Canadian) approved and come in voltages based on your location and projected snowfall.
An ambient sensing thermostat that’s housed in a weather tight junction box supports incoming electrical power wiring and heating cable power connections. The thermostat is factory set to automatically energize the cable system when temperatures drop below 38 degrees Fahrenheit. It also turns off when the temperature rises above 38 degrees. To save energy, it can also be set to turn off when temperatures drop below 10 degrees as ice dams generally form when temperatures are between 10 and 38 degrees.