HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — Armed with his spools of cable and cartons of clips, Steve Kuhl is about to attack the bane of winter’s worst.
Who can forget those awful images last season when our rooftops got turned into frozen rivers of ice?
“It’s pretty simple. It’s a combination of lots of snow and lots of cold. It was a nightmare for some people. I own an ice dam company so it was a nice year for us,” explains Kuhl, owner of the Ice Dam Company and Radiant Solutions.
But homeowners could get the last laugh if they prepare before the nastiest of winter arrives. Instead of melting away their ice dams, Kuhl is helping homeowners prevent them.
His company is getting overwhelmed this time of year installing roof heating cables.
“Last year our average roof shoveling cost was about $500 per visit and we paid multiple visits to a number of people around the city,” says Kuhl.
On Tuesday, Kuhl was working on the same house where just months ago, his crews spent hours steaming away a massive ice dam. So instead, he’ll install an industrial grade heat tape that is designed to safely channel away any water.
“All they do is create a melted channel in a zig-zag pattern to allow the water to escape off the roof through the accumulated snow and ice,” Kuhl explains.
Installing ice dam heat cables on an average size house will cost between $700 and $1,500. That is less than half the price of steaming off a damaging ice dam.
Unlike off the shelf heat cables which can be purchased in hardware and home improvement stores, the cables that Kuhl installs are more durable. They are also engineered to self-regulate its power needs – turning on only when cold temperatures demand the heat.
Commercially sold roof heat cables are constant wattage, and consume power whenever they are plugged into an outlet. They also tend to burn out prematurely if the cable comes in contact with itself.
As for Kuhl’s system, “it doesn’t burn out and will last a decade.”
It is a simple and relatively inexpensive solution to a much costlier fix. Ice dams are an indication of poor attic insulation and ventilation. But the cost to properly ventilate and insulate a home’s attic space will quickly add up into the thousands of dollars.
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