Does zig zag heat tape prevent ice dams?


It really depends on the amount of snow and temperatures. If you live in an area that rarely gets more than 3-4 inches of snow at a time and the snow doesn't pile up on the roof, then the zig zag heat tape found at the hardware store  may suffice. Be careful to follow the installation instructions. This type of heat tape cannot overlap or come into contact with itself - otherwise it can create hotspots and burn out. Typically, this heat tape lasts 1-2 years. Some experience longer usefulness and others have the heat tape fail the same year it is installed. 

What can happen if I try to use zig zag heat tape and the winters are more severe? This picture shows what happens zig zag heat tape with ice damswhen the heat tape can't keep up with the conditions. All of the energy used to operate these cables was wasted. The ice builds right over them. This particular home has the problem right over the stairs leading to the front entry. A real safety hazard. The continued dripping from the icicles refreezes on the stairs and has been difficult to keep clear with the below freezing temperatures. The stairs can be salted, but that tracks into the house, damaging the hardwood floors. This system will be replaced with a more suitable and function system discussed below.

What if you live in an area that gets more snow and the temps stay below freezing for long portions of the winter? Then, your best bet is to invest in the more robust radiant panel systems. These can be heated gutter guards such as the VersaScreen IceBlaster or heated eave and valley panels. These products are designed to keep up with heavier snows and colder temps. They are expertly designed and installed by professionals who specialize in this work. They operate more efficiently than zig zag heat tape and last much longer (10-20 years or more). Because of the long lifespan and efficient operation, these radiant roof edge ice dam prevention systems are a better investment than the cheap hardware store heat cables. 

Would you like more information on how you can solve your ice dam and icicle problems. Contact us and we will be happy to assist.


 Wisconsin Ice Dam Solutions

      220 Watertown Plank Road, Unit C
      Nashotah, WI 53058

Mailing Address 
       PO Box 180193
       Delafield, WI 53018

Office:  800-385-6279