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Icicles on Your Roof? No Problem with Self-Regulating Cables!

Posted: 1/12/2022 12:00:00 AM

Winter snow and ice can cause serious water damage to your roof if you’re not prepared! Luckily the Self-Regulating Cables from Pronghorn are here to melt your worries away.

Ice dams are our biggest concern for our roofs in the Winter. They are a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a rooftop, which essentially blocks water and prevents it from draining off. Different rooftop surface temperatures cause the snow at higher points of the roof to melt, while the lower portions of the roof allow that melted snow to re-freeze, forming ice dams and icicles. The dam grows as it is fed by melting snow above it, eventually creating a reservoir where the water will collect instead of freezing. Without a way off the roof, you’ve got water backing up and potentially causing leaks in your home. This can damage walls, ceilings, insulation, and more.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Pronghorn Self-Regulating Cables

One of the ways you can keep these ice dams from forming is by using a de-icing cable. Pronghorn’s self-regulating heat cables keep ice from forming on unheated roof edges, gutters, and downspouts.

self-regulating heat cable automatically varies its heat output as the surrounding temperature changes. The colder it gets the more heat is generated by the conductive core. When it starts to warm up, the core produces less heat. This regulation happens at multiple points throughout the cable, which provides greater energy efficiency and more uniform temperatures. Something to keep in mind is that these Pronghorn cables are designed for use with non-combustible tab shingles and metal or plastic downspouts. They’re not designed for slate, ceramic, or wooden shingles, or for metal, rubber, or flat roofs.

How to Place Heating Cables

Pronghorn Self-Regulating Cables

The cable should run along the roof edge in a triangular, saw-tooth pattern, with each loop’s height ranging from 18” to 54”, depending on your overhang length. As a rule of thumb, the cable should extend into the heated section of the roof by approximately 6 inches. The cable loops are supported by roof clips and should be spaced at two-foot intervals. The clips slide around the edge of the shingle, and the little hooks hold your cable in place!

The section of cable that extends over your gutter should have a small loop extending past the edge of the roof. This is called the drip loop, and this will allow the water to drip right into the gutter instead of collecting on another part of your roof. The gutter and downspout also need to have heating cables installed, or you’ll end up with ice buildup in places you didn’t expect. Also, when you have valleys in your roof, you’ll need to extend the cable in a loop approximately six feet in length.

Determining Cable Requirements and Factors

To figure out how much cable you’ll need first you’ll want to calculate the cable length. To do this start by measuring the roof edge length, from one side to the other. If you are applying cable to more than one roof edge, you will need to calculate each section separately. Then, measure your roof overhang. The roof overhang is the distance from your roof edge to the face of your outer wall. With your roof overhang, you’ll know your cable loop length and length factor. The length factor needs to be multiplied by the roof length and then you’ve got the total cable length required for the roof edge. Once you have your roof overhang, you can reference how many cables you’ll need with our handy chart.

Pronghorn Self-Regulating Cables
Requirements And Factors

For example, if you have a 25-inch eave overhang and a roof length of 30-ft on a shingle roof. A 24-inch eave overhang means you have a loop height of 30 inches and a length factor of 2.7. Multiply 30 by 2.7 and you get your total cable length of 81 ft.

At this point, you also need to calculate how much cable you will need for the gutter and downspout. For the gutter, you’ll need one foot of cable for every one foot of the gutter. However, if the gutter is wider than six inches, you’ll want to use two cable lines (one on either side of the gutter). Make sure your gutters are clear of all debris before installing your cable.

For the downspout, you’ll want two feet of cable for every one foot of the downspout. This is because you’ll be looping the cable down and back up again. If your downspout is longer than 20 feet, you’ll want to use a downspout hanger to support the heating cable where it enters and exits the downspout.

Safety Tips for Using De-Icing Cables

Pronghorn Self-Regulating Cables
Pronghorn Self-Regulating Heating Cables

Always make sure that you plug your heat cable into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet, which is designed to protect users against electric shock from an electrical system. A GFCI outlet will shut itself off after detecting a problem. These outlets are most commonly found in washrooms, kitchens, garages, and laundry areas. If you aren’t sure if you’ve got a GFCI outlet nearby, or if you know the nearest one is too far away from where you’d like your installation point to be, you can use the 120 GFCI plug-in cord set. This allows you to have a GFCI outlet wherever you need one!

Also, remember to only plugin this cable when you need it, self-regulating may be in the name, but that doesn’t mean it will shut itself off! Make sure you’ve chosen a start point (your electricity source) close to a GFCI outlet with a weatherproof junction box.

If you’ve got a big project ahead of you, it might be better to invest in some bulk cable. These rolls come in 50 feet or 250 feet and are available in 120 or 240 volts. If you’re using bulk cable, you’ll need connector kits, or even a splice or tee kit, depending on the design of your roof. If you have any questions feel free to contact us and make sure to subscribe to our emailing list so you can stay up to date with everything happening here

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