Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why shovel? and ice dam info

Today was the first day that really felt like winter here. Even with the dusting of snow on the ground Monday morning, the air on Monday just wasn’t as brisk as today.

We have a roof rake. We have ice melt. We have a shovel, and we probably have ice scrapers for the cars. And our neighbor just got a snowblower and says he’s looking forward to doing the whole block.

But we don’t have Heat Trak mats for our front steps. Those look convenient.

Update February 19, 2017:

The second winter after having our roof redone, it started leaking into our enclosed porch again. We think that it wasn’t through the roof itself this time, but rather from behind the gutters. The gutters filled with ice, the melting snow from higher up pushed its way backwards through the fascia and soffit boards, and came in dripping from the soffit boards inside the porch. Unlike 2 years ago, there was no water coming in through the porch ceiling.

Even if our house were completely unheated, we would have snow melt on our roof because of sunshine. With the right combination of cold temperatures and snow melt, the front gutter will gradually fill with ice and create a larger and larger block of ice.

We need to replace the fascia and soffit boards when we rebuild the front porch, and we need to replace the beat-up gutters anyway. Hopefully with a proper pitch to the soffit boards and a sane flashing approach, we can keep the water that backs up behind an iced-up gutter from backing into the porch itself. In part, that requires a contractor who understands that the gutter will ice up, that snow will melt, and that we want a backup plan for keeping the water outside.

I’ve also been looking into heat tape or heat cable for the gutter and downspouts. There are two basic types of heat cable: constant wattage, and self-regulating. We want self-regulating. We also want some sort of sanity control that turns it off if the weather is warm or if there’s no snow, so it’s not using power when it’s not needed. Perhaps a wifi-interactive switch would help.

If we want to melt ice on the eaves, there’s lots of panel choices shown here:

Here are some other useful local links:

Moonworks and NE Gutter Kings both offer gutter caps that can have heat cable run through them, which seems helpful in terms of distributing the area that can melt.

In general with gutters, we want to look at materials options and size options. Larger size seems better, given that the majority of the overly large house roof goes down to a total span of 25 feet of gutter. We want strong, because we don’t want ladders to damage the gutters. Would fiberglass or nylon be strong enough? Would the heat transfer characteristics be better or worse for preventing ice build-up and for letting the heat cable work?

How far out of the downspouts do we want to run the heat cable?

Where should the outlet and switch be for ease of installing heat cables?

Do we want cleanouts to create escape paths for water? Removable gutters for the winter? Rain chains instead of downspouts?

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