Pros and Cons of Various Ice Dam Prevention Products

Winter brings numerous concerns to homeowners, including dreaded ice dams. This summer, learn about different products and how they can help your home for the coming winter.
Ice dams are the humps of ice that you may see along the edge of a roof during winter. Ice dams occur when heat from the inside of the house and attic rises and melts a layer of snow that’s on the roof. The water from the melted snow runs down along the roof and reaches the eaves. The eaves are unheated since they extend out beyond the home, so the water refreezes at the eaves. This process continues to happen, resulting in ice dams and possible water leakage into a home. Freeze out ice dams with the following products.
Roof Edge Heating Cables
The name of this product is pretty self-explanatory. These are heating cables that you can purchase from any major home improvement store. They typically are installed on the Bloomington roofing eaves in a zigzag pattern.
Cost: $60 to $90 per 100 feet of cable
Pros: The heat helps prevent ice dams from forming.
Cons: The heat from these cables may not clear the entire eave, meaning that the problem can continue. Heating cables add an ongoing electrical expense, so be prepared to see your electricity bill higher during the winter months. Since these are electrical products, set aside some money to hire an electrician and roofer for installation.
Metal Ice Belt Roof Panels
This prevention product is installed at the edge of the roof, also known as the eaves. The panels are thin gauge aluminum. The purpose of these ice belts is to shed ice and snow off the roof. The metal also prevents leaking.
Cost: $30 to $60 per linear foot of eave
Pros: These belts are about the same price as heat cables, but you don’t need an electrician and there are no ongoing electricity expenses.
Cons: If you have an older roof, a full roof replacement is recommended before installing these.
Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
As winter begins, keep an eye on your roof and throw this on the eaves if you suspect a buildup may be starting. Be sure not to use regular ice melt, which can damage plants, paint, and metal beneath the eaves where the water will drain.
Cost: Approximately $20
Pros: It’s readily available and affordable.
Cons: Depending on how many stories your home is, throwing ice melt on your roof eaves may be difficult and unsafe.
Ice Dam Socks
Buy some nylon stockings and fill them with calcium chloride ice melt. Lay them across your eaves to help melt ice buildup.
Cost: Approximately $20
Pros: This is affordable and simple.
Cons: It’s only a quick fix, not a lasting solution.
There are many different ice dam prevention products on the market today, but the ultimate solution is to eliminate the root cause: heat loss in your attic. Improving your attic insulation and ventilation can do this. Contact your local Bloomington roofing and insulation contractor to see what steps you should take for your home. Take action and be prepared before winter arrives.