EASYHEAT® Roof De-Icing Cables

Even though we enjoyed a lovely summer here in New England, we have not forgotten the wallop that 2014-2015 winter packed. Each successive storm brought more snow to our driveways and walkways that we had to get out there and remove. Even after all the shoveling, snow-blowing, and plowing was finished, the effects of the cold and storms were clearly visible in the ice dams that plagued many roofs.

Before we know it, Old Man Winter will be here once again. To prevent ice dams and all of the damage that they cause, you need to take some preventive measures before winter arrives.  The most efficient way to keep ice dams from forming on asphalt shingle or metal roofs is to fix the underlying problem.  Typically this means adding insulation so that heat from the house doesn’t reach the roof and melt the snow.  Melted snow that re-freezes creates ice dams.  But there are many cases where it’s simply not feasible to stop all heat from reaching the snow.  In those cases there are de-icing cables that help keep the water moving off the roof. These electric heating cables economically and efficiently reduce ice formation along roof edges and in gutters, drains and downspouts to provide a path for melted water to flow off the structure.


easy heat electrical workSAFETY FIRST!!  Do not use EASYHEAT® cables on wooden shingle roofs, rubber or rubber membrane roofs, composite (tar and gravel) roofs, wooden gutters or downspouts or on flat roofs. Only install on inclined roofs where water will flow off of the roof edge.

If you are uncertain about any of the electrical requirements or if you are not comfortable working on a ladder or roof, you may need to hire a professional, such as a licensed electrician.

When To Install

As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi famously said, “The best defense is a good offense.” EASYHEAT® cables can not be installed to remove ice dams that have already formed or to eliminate a roof of ice and snow. The good news is that EASYHEAT® cables come pre-assembled and ready-to-install.

You should install in a temperature that allows for the lifting of shingle tabs. In general, the temperature should be between 32° and 80° F.  Below 32°, shingles are brittle and may break off when lifted to install the cable clips.

Where To Install

Typical pattern along roofline and in gutters/downspouts

De-icing cables should be installed on roof areas where ice dams are likely to form (or where you remember them developing in the past). These are areas of the roof where snow and ice still cover even though they have melted on upper roof surfaces. Cable should be installed in any nearby gutters, downspouts, and valleys so that a clear path is provided for melt water to drain.

The cable pattern must be arranged so that it routes melt water to flow from “warm areas” of the roof (where snow and ice thaw because of heat loss due) through the “cold areas” (typically roof overhangs and in gutters) and down to the ground. To do this best you will be zig-zagging the cable in a “V” pattern.

Your starting point should not be near any entrance areas or sidewalks to avoid contact with persons or equipment that can move or damage the cable. If there happens to be an electrical outlet already existing in an appropriate location near the eave, that would be an ideal starting point.

How Much Cable Do You Need?

The length of your roof line alone does not determine how much cable is needed. You will need to measure both the roof’s overhang and the length of the roof. Installing cable over the unheated (overhang) portion of your roof helps to ensure that water flowing onto this area from above won’t freeze but will instead flow to the ground.

Start by measuring the horizontal roof length to be covered by cable and multiply it by the Overhang Multiplier to determine the total length of cable you will need. The multiplier table that EASYHEAT® provides makes these calculations simple.


Then add cable for each downspout. If a downspout is not at the end of a cable routing, it will require double the length of cable (to go back up and continue the run further). Finally, add extra cable for any valleys (6 feet per) around any dormers.

easyheat cable sentryThen come on down to Koopman with your total and we’ll guide you to the nearest standard length kit since de-icing cable cannot be cut or altered. The kit includes the de-icing cable, shingle clips, cable spacers, installation instructions and electrical panel labels.  We also highly recommend that use an RS-2 Roof Sentry Automatic Control for each cable installed. The RS-2 senses temperature and moisture to ensure that the system is automatically energized only when needed.

Wrap Up

Investing a little of time and money before the snow flies will save you the joyless task of attempting to melt or remove ice dams once they’ve formed on your roof.

If you have any questions or could use some assistance with your calculations, feel free to reach out to at http:www.koopmanlumber.com or visit one of our conveniently located retail stores. Our friendly and helpful staff have the knowledge and experience to equip you with all of the supplies and know-how you’ll need for this important home maintenance job.