Zig-Zag Heating Cables Failing Issues

If laying zig zag on a roof edge worked and aluminum metal tracks were not a maintenance challenge then this high profile mountain ski resort would not have contacted HotEdge seeking a better remedy to their ongoing ice dam and icicle problems! When we installed the HotEdge system, maintenance personnel were skeptical since HotEdge required a single commercial grade heat cable versus three cables previously used to power the aluminum metal tracks. Today, this ski resort adds additional HotEdge systems to additional problem roof edges

This customer is desperate for a solution to their ice dam and icicle problems on a side of their home in high snow load region which rarely gets sun so they called HotEdge. Interestingly, if you look closely at the photo, there is heat cable hanging off the roof edge (see inside green circles). This is a typical outcome for most homeowners that are sold on the idea of laying heat cable on the roof edge in a zig zag pattern. This traditional approach never prevents icicles, it rarely can prevent ice dams and the energy bills are highest trying.

ice dam

This photo was provided by a customer frustrated with structural leaks and damage as a result of ice dam formations that could not be resolved using zig zag heat cables.

This photo was taken in the Spring (March 2012), hence, most of the problematic ice dam has been diminished in size due to ambient temperatures only. HotEdge, Inc. was asked to provide a simple, low cost and energy efficient solution!

This photo clearly shows the ongoing maintenance issue with laying zig-zag on a roof edge in an attempt to prevent ice dam and icicle formations from developing. Often times as seen in this photo, the result is a damaged heat trace cable and the concept has to be re-installed making the total cost of this concept higher than a simple and effective HotEdge system.

Laying heat trace cable on a roof edge in a zig zag or serpentine pattern is that it is not a great concept. for several reasons; (1) it is not able to heat a roof edge on a continuous basis (allowing icicles to develop and ice dams form as seen in this photo), (2) the heat trace cable is secured to the roof using roof clips which penetrate a roof deck voiding warranties on asphalt shingles, etc.,

(3) if you follow manufacturer instructions for installation guidelines you will need a minimum of 4 feet of heat trace cable for every foot of roof edge (this equates to 4x more heat trace cable than a HotEdge system requires), (4) snow pack shifts and wants to migrate down to a roof edge (especially in the springtime) and when this happens, too often this movement/shifting tugs on heat trace cable and pulls out the roof clips and the heat trace cable is left damaged (severed from the roof clip) or left hanging off a roof edge and you have to call a service tech to re-install it, (5) In this photo the zig zag concept is performing at an acceptable level on the left side of the roof edge. This is primarily because the sun is helping this installation on the left side. However, on the right side, it is shaded and this concept is getting less help from the sun, hence, ice problems exists. In summary, A best solution is to pick a concept that is able to heat a roof edge on a continuous basis (which uses 4x less heat cable!) and it is not dependent on external factors to prevent ice dams and icicles from forming, HotEdge!

Almost always, traditional zig zag on a roof edge performs miserably. Here notice the ice balls (circled in red), icicles and ice dams accumulating early in the winter season on this house at 8,250 feet elevation. In the spring, the ice balls that form on the end of the zig and zags will drop off posing a risk to safety and property below.

Once again, the traditional zig zag application installed to prevent roof ice problems is failing. In this photo, a large icicle is developing which can easily break off and fall into the picture window. Snowmelt is refreezing BETWEEN THE HEAT CABLES! Again, the key to a successful roof ice prevention system is to be able to heat the roof edge on a continuous basis so snow-melt does not have a chance to refreeze on the edge.

This photo shows how ineffective zig-zag heat tape on a roof can be. Obviously, ice dams and icicles have formed. What often happens and this photo might be showing it; the owner became so frustrated with high monthly energy bills to operate the zig-zag heat tape coupled with the fact it was not providing a solution so a decision was made to turn off the electricity powering the heat tape.

Anyone with experience with zig-zag heat cable on their roof to try and prevent ice dams and icicles will tell you one of 4 things: 1. It was cheap to install but expensive to operate and reinstall 2. It does not work and only runs up my energy bills 3. I am tired of replacing it every year 4. I was not told installing zig-zag heat tape would void my shingle warranty.

HotShingleLOK2X is shown in this photo performing. Although it appears that a small ice dam has developed, if examine closely, a pathway for snow melt water exists between the ice and asphalt shingle for snow melt water to safely reach the gutter system. It should also be understood that HotEdge systems are able to melt further up from a roof edge than any other market alternative available. So if the belief is that ice can develop above a HotEdge system (since this photo shows it), then the same is true to a greater extent (since HotEdge systems are able to melt back further) for all other market alternatives

In this photo, HotFlashing and HotShinglePRO are shown performing on a commercial property. It was important that a system be UL Listed for safety and compliance.

zig-zag heat cables not working on ice dams problem

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