What Difference Is There In Ice Dam Prevention Products?

What are the different types of ice dam prevention systems available on the market?

There are different types of systems for ice dam prevention. They range from zig zag heat tape strewn on the roof to advanced thermally conductive materials that convey the heat to mats and meshes that are installed underneath the shingles.

  • Zig Zag Cables fastened to the shingles
  • Aluminum Extrusion Systems using heater cables or radiant tubing
  • Thin, sheet metal brackets using heat tape
  • Mats or meshes that are installed under the shingles
  • Gimmick systems with air bladders, slippery surfaces, hot air, etc

Zig Zag Heat Cables -

Many home and business owners have come to realize that zig zag heat cables are not always effective at solving ice dam problems. Their short lifespan and limited heat output means they often are not able to keep up. This is especially evident when heavier snow falls and temps plummet.

Under the shingle mesh mats - 

Some companies have come up with mats or meshes that are laid under the shingles. These require installation at the new construction phase or removal of the shingles to install the system. They can be effective at preventing snow and ice build up. They still require the use heat cables at the gutters and downspouts - meaning two separate systems are required. Servicing is more difficult as the shingles have to be removed when the systems fail.

Thin, sheet metal heat tape -

There are systems that use a thin piece of painted steel to clamp a heat cable to the roof edge. These systems initially showed promise. But, as their use expanded, these low powered systems could not keep up - resulting in icing problems. They might be effective for mild winters, but are not suitable when more severe weather is present. 

Gimmicks -

The gimmick systems... If you like gimmicks, they are out there. Search long enough online and you will find them. They don't merit serious consideration here.

Thermally conductive aluminum extrusions -

Aluminum extrusion ice dam prevention systems have been around since the mid 1990's. They are based on the laws of thermal dynamics. The premise is that the self regulating style of heat cable can be used to heat a mass that is thermally conductive rather than letting that energy be immediately consumed by the atmosphere. Since the inception of these systems, home, condominium, resort and business owners have experienced a significant improvement in ice dam prevention on their roofs. They are more efficient and longer lasting than other methods. When maintenance is required, most of the components are reused. 

Not all systems, however, are created equal. Here at WI Ice Dam Solutions, we are asked to look at all sorts of systems because makers of these systems are interested in our carrying their ice dam prevention systems. With that in mind, we thought it time to do some comparison testing. Here is a youtube video of the testing and results for your consideration. Which Ice Dam Prevention System Panel Is Right For You video.