Roof Snow Melt and De-icing Systems

by Steven Bench

“Good grief, the last thing I thought I would need to worry about is a leaky roof!” Said the owner of a newly constructed Class A office building. “Why does my 2 year old metal roof have ice dam problems?” asked a homeowner that recently replaced a 10 year old cedar shake roof with a standing seam metal roof in an effort to get away from leaks. “The snow causes singles from my tile roof to fall off each winter!” proclaimed a home owner that purchased his tile shingle roofed home new 5 years ago. “How can I keep sliding snow from taking my rain gutters off??” inquired a condo complex property manager.

These are just a few of the questions that I get asked each week from people all over North America. Make no mistake; I am not in the roofing business! I am however in the business of warming things up. My company makes products that warms floors, heats buildings, melts now off of paved surfaces, melts snow and ice off of roofs and warms pipes and their contents.

Of course the simplest, but most impractical, solutions to cold weather caused roof and rain gutter problems is simply don’t build in places that experience snow and cold temperatures during the winter or, budget for, yet to be determined, roof and rain gutter repairs. But the best answer is to rely on a combination of design and snow melting technologies to offer long term solutions to the problems caused by snow and ice.

Many different snow and ice melting technologies are available on the market today, some have been around for years, and thus are tried and proven, while others are new and yet to be fully vetted. When selecting which product is best for any given application, it may be helpful to answer each of the following questions:

1) How important is the appearance of my home or building to me? Electric heating cables or hydronic tubing in an extruded metal pan system, electric heat trace, electric heat tape and all other on top of, or replacement for, the roof covering material and will affect the aesthetics of the building. If the unaltered appearance of your home or building is important to you then look at one of the low voltage under roof covering products available from you radiant heating and snow melting professional.

2) How important is product warranty in my decision? Generally roof covering materials have a life expectancy measured in years or decades. As a result, purchasers of roof covering materials usually expect long periods of trouble free service from the materials they select. It only makes sense that products designed to melt snow and ice off of the roof should also have long warranties and the purchasers ought to expect comparable performance from any other product installed under or on top of the roof.

Steven Bench is Managing Member of Heatizon Systems a Murray, Utah based manufacturer and marketer of low and line voltage electric heating and snow melting products.