Roof & Gutter Heating – Using Heat Tracing To Prevent Roof & Gutter Snow & Ice Build Up

Published 24 Oct 2016

  • By Chris Dodds : estimated reading time 5 minutes

Roof & Gutter Heating

Effective and thorough preparation for winter can prevent freezing pipes and damage to plant that would be financially costly and result in lost production – in previous Heat Tracing Blogs we have discussed the application of heat trace cables to provide frost protection to water pipework.

In this Blog T&D look at roof and gutter heating: the problems that poor planning can lead to and how to overcome and prepare for winter challenges with the use of heat tracing cables for the alleviation of ice and snow build-up on roofs and in down gutters.

Ask Yourself…..

  • Do you understand the snow load designs for all the roof sections of your site buildings?
  • Does your building maintenance program include measures to ensure that your buildings are not compromised by snowfall and ice formation?
  • Are you prepared – is your business able to respond effectively to deal with such events?

If the answer is No to any of these questions, contact T&D to discuss your key action steps.

Roof & Gutter Heating

PREVENTION OF Snow & Ice Build Up 

Snow build up on a roof can serious problems to both the roof itself and the building fabric inside as a result of thawing melt water. These are typically divided into the problems from the added weight and then the issues that arise once the snow has begun to thaw.

T&D distribute snow and ice prevention systems that reduce the build up of ice, snow and the dangers posed by heavy snow building up on roofs which can lead to structural damage. Typically these are electrically powered trace heating systems comprising of heating cables which are installed in critical areas of the roof, eaves, valleys, gutters and downspouts.

Heat tracing systems are specified to activate automatically by strategically located thermostatic and moisture detection control units that switches on the heat source whenever the ambient temperatures fall below a set point.

Build Up Of Snow Deposits On A Roof & The Damage To The Roof Structure 

Snow Load On A Roof Shows The Added Weight The Deformation Of A Roof Structure Under Weight

When snow falls and settles on the roof of a building it adds extra weight – roofing structures and designs are not typically designed to cope with all of this sudden extra weight and this can cause them to dip or bow.

This in turn adds pressure to the walls of the building.

Aviva Insurance

Insurance Report From Aviva Discusses The Effect That Added Weight From Snow Has On Roof Structures

A report from insurance provider Aviva Plc discussing  “Property Precautions – Weight of Snow”, highlights the effect that added weight from snow has on the structure of a roof. These points include:

  • When snow load exceeds the design load for the roof
  • Inadequate roof drainage systems
  • Roof drainage systems such as gutters, downspouts and drains that are blocked by debris prevent rain water, water from melting snow and ice from being able to freely drain away from roofs
  • Inadequate roof drainage systems
  • Inadequate structural design

The same report from Aviva Insurance states:

“To protect against the likelihood of snow related damage to your property, it is important to develop a timely prevention and maintenance program before the winter weather commences, during and after the winter period. These simple practical measures should form part of your building maintenance program”.

Heat tracing brands

T&D Distribute Heat Tracing Products Manufactured By The Following Brands: Chromalox, Thermon, Eltherm, Heatfast & Easyheat

Leaking Gutter Systems

The added weight of snow on a roof is far from the last of the problems caused from harsh winter weather. The next issue comes from the thawing of the snow build up.

This thaw water can quite easily overload drainage systems and cause large floods.

If freezing temperatures prevail however, the thaw water can easily re-freeze, especially at night, causing ice dams in gutters and drainage systems which in turn leads to water ingress causing internal damage to the building.

It is therefore vital that gutter heating systems are taken into account when preparing for winter.

Aviva insurance goes on to talk about Snow and Ice Roof Melting Systems stating:

“There are a range of snow and ice prevention systems available from specialist installers that can reduce the build up of ice, snow and the dangers posed by heavy snow building up on roofs which can lead to structural damage.

Snow Build Up On A Roof

Snow Build Up On A Roof Over A Gutter Edge Showing Water Ingress – Caused Through Lack Of Roof Or Gutter Heating

Typically these are electrically powered heat tracing systems comprising of heated mats and cables which are routed and positioned in critical areas of the roof, eaves, valleys, gutters and downspouts etc.

Such systems are designed to activate automatically by strategically located thermostatic and moisture detection that switches on the heat source whenever the ambient temperatures fall below a set point”.

Roof and gutter heating systems are integral to preserving not only the structural integrity of buildings but also ensuring business continuity.

Thorough winterisation preparations can not only prevent damage to buildings and potential accidents involving plant workers and machinery operators but also provide a great return on investment by removing plant downtime from winter weather.

To ensure your plant or business does not fall victim to poor winter planning, T&D offer a comprehensive range of winterisation products ranging from heat tracing cable to heaters for hazardous and non-hazardous areas.

Clearing Roofs & Gutters From Snow & Ice Using Heat Tracing Systems

Clearing Roofs & Gutters From Snow & Ice Using Heat Tracing Systems

Roof & Gutter Heat Tracing Cable – The Solution

The most effective solution in terms of results and financial implications is to install roof and gutter trace heating cable as the cables create a flow path for the water allowing it to drain away correctly.

Key benefits of roof and gutter heat tracing installations include:

  • Rugged – Heat tracing cables are specifically designed to be resistant to UV
  • Economic – Self regulating heat tracing cables automatically adjusts its output according to the ambient conditions
  • Safe – Heat tracing cables cannot over heat
  • Peace of Mind – Automatic controls create a fit and forget heat tracing system
  • Long Lifetimes – Heat tracing systems are age tested for lifetimes in excess of 20 years
Roof Gutter Heating

Roof & Gutter Heating Cable Layouts: 1. Roof Overhang Only. 2. Gutter and Downspouts Only. 3. Roof Overhang Plus Gutter & Downspouts

T&D are able to offer a full roof and gutter heating system design and specification, including controls and electrical loading information along with our heat tracing teams that are on hand to carry out roof and gutter heating installations.

Eltherm gutter heat tracing installation prevents ice build up and blockages

Eltherm Gutter Heat Tracing Installation Prevents Ice Build Up & Blockages

Snow and ice build up causing demolished roof

Snow & Ice Build Up Destroys Roofs

More Reading

Trace Heating Systems & Heat Trace Cables

The heat trace cable ranges stocked and supplied by Thorne & Derrick International includes electric heating cables for process temperature maintenance, pipe and vessel freeze protection and roof and gutter de-icing applications where snow and ice removal is required – cables and systems are available for commercial, industrial safe area (non-hazardous area) and hazardous area heating applications with ATEX certification.

Electric heat tracing is a cable based system used to maintain, raise temperature and protect process pipework and vessels against freezing temperatures and associated frost damage – heat tracing cables mitigate and counteract cold weather effects as part of a Winterization strategy for industrial and process applications against low (sub-zero) ambient temperatures on both onshore and offshore locations.

Heat tracing systems utilising self-regulating, constant wattage and mineral insulated (MI) heating cables are available to provide the optimum electrical heating system for your application – we provide a trace heating system design service.

Heat Trace Cables: Ramp Heating | Roof & Gutter Heating | Water Pipework Frost Protection | Hopper Heating | Tank Heating | Hazardous Area Heating | Fire Escapes

Trace Heating Heat Trace Cables

Trace Heating & Heat Tracing Cable Systems Specialists | Thorne & Derrick

Further Reading