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What Are Heated Gutters?

Combat ice this winter with a heated gutter system.

Winter is just around the corner and with it that comes the dreaded snow and ice, which can ultimately lead to ice damming. While no product can prevent or completely eliminate ice damming altogether, you can take steps to reduce your risk.

One way to combat the problems with ice formation in your gutters is by installing a heated gutter “system.” While gutters themselves are not heated, there are products available such as heated gutter helmets or heat cables.

Heat cable

This product can be installed directly in the gutter. For extra protection you may also install at the eave (or edge) of the roof and hang over into the gutter. Heat cable is used to aid in reduction of ice formation. Keep in mind that these are only designed to help, not prevent ice dams.

Heat cables work to allow the water to escape by making a small open tunnel by heating from under the ice formation. There are two types: thermostat and traditional. Thermostat controlled allows the homeowner to control the temperature of the heat cable while traditional is set at one constant temp.

Heated gutter helmets

This product is typically not “heated” and requires the use of heat cable. Installed directly on top of the cable, “heated” gutter helmets act in two ways. One is to assist in preventing debris from getting into your gutters and clogging them throughout the year. While it’s not going to keep all debris out, it will help. The second is during the winter they heat up, melting the under layer of snow and ice before it has the chance to get any worse.

What is the cost?

Heat cable: Approximately $30 per 30 square feet (if installing yourself).

Heated gutter helmets: For the helmets themselves, figure around $25 per foot, plus the cost of heat cable. If hiring a contractor to install either system, you’ll need to account for labor and mark up for company costs.

Cost will also depend on which type of helmet you choose and who installs it, among other things. Helmets may be the more expensive but both depend on the size of your home and what you’re looking to achieve. It’s important to know that you will absolutely need a dedicated outlet for either system you choose to go with, which may require an electrician. Depending on size of your home, you may need more than one outlet.

It starts with gutter cleaning

Always make sure your gutters are cleaned out, especially before winter when using heat cable inside your gutters. Not only will this aid water flow but it will also reduce your risk of any issues occurring with the heat cable. With either product, it’s very important to turn the heat cable on before the snow and ice have accumulated. Waiting until after will probably be too late and you won’t get the desired results.

Worried about overheating? Don’t be. The products are certified and usually come with a sensor that will kick the system off before overheating.

As with any system on your home, insulation and ventilation will help to work as a team with the products mentioned. If you have inadequate amounts of either one, it’s likely that you will not see the best results from either of these products.

Overall, either product is well worth the investment considering the damage ice damming causes homeowners each year.

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