my Old Workshop

How to de-ice your eaves with heating wires

We’ve talked before about how ice can build up on your eaves in the winter. If your roof isn’t well insulated, heat escaping from the house can melt the snow. This drips merrily down the slope of the warm roof until it suddenly hits the eaves. The eaves, of course, aren’t warm, so the water slows and freezes. Or it might freeze in the gutter.

The degree of the problem varies with the amount of heat loss and the width of your eaves, but it can cause damage. Ice building up in the gutters can bend or break them, and if enough ice builds up on the eaves, it can eventually cause water to leak up under the shingles and into the house.

Valleys can be particularly troublesome, since they channel the water flowing off the roof into one spot.

Improved insulation will help, of course. But that’s not always possible.

Ice and water shield (a thick membrane) under the shingles on the lower 3′ to 6′ of the roof will prevent water from leaking through the roof. But it won’t stop the ice buildup and the possible formation of massive icicles. Heating wires are sometimes the only solution for problem areas. These wires, while they’ll eat into your electrical bill a bit, can prevent potentially damaging buildup.

Here’s how to install them correctly. Zigzag the wires on the lower area of the eaves, attached to the shingles with the clips provided, and run the wire down the gutter. They usually come with hooks which allow you to hook the lower end of the zigzagged wire onto the wire in the gutter. This stops the water from reaching the edge of the eave and freezing there.

Now, you need to get the water out of the gutter without causing more buildup there or in the downspout. Simply run the wire down the length of the downspout, and it will have a path right to the ground.