De-icing system for roofs and gutters: DIY tips


As you know, winter in our country always starts unexpectedly. For this reason, frost and snow are a real disaster, which is accompanied by meter-long snow caps on the roofs and ice blocks hanging from the eaves of houses. Everyone struggles with unfavorable weather factors in their own way - some throw snow and icicles from the roofs, others simply fence the sidewalk with ribbons. Both are trying to deal with the consequences, while it is simply necessary to eliminate the cause. But this is not difficult at all - it is enough to equip the roof with a snow melting installation. In this article we will tell you about the features of the calculation, design and installation of anti-icing systems. And most importantly - about how to make it yourself, and even with minimal costs.

Why do you need a roof de-icing system

Everyone knows what harm to the health and property of people can be caused by massive icicles and snow layers hanging from the roof - unfortunately, the results of human sluggishness often led to tragedies. But the formation of ice is a rather serious threat to the roof.

The accumulation of ice in gutters, funnels and pipes reduces their cross-section, which makes it difficult to remove melted snow during a thaw. Water accumulating on the roof penetrates into the smallest cracks. Needless to say, what will happen with the next drop in temperature? The result is sad - the freezing liquid expands and tears the roofing. This cycle repeats itself many times, and the destruction grows exponentially. As for the gutters clogged with ice, they simply cease to function. Overflowing the edge, dirty water flows along the facade of the building, making it look unsightly and destroying the walls and foundation.

The accumulating snow is dangerous not only for people and the property below, but also for the roof itself.

Trying to prevent the described troubles, many owners of private houses remove snow and ice with shovels, scrapers, ice axes and other tools. This is not to say that this method has no right to exist. However, in this case, there is a danger that the roof itself will be damaged by physical impact, especially if it is covered with materials such as slate, soft tiles, ondulin, etc.

The author of these lines fell into a similar trap, trying to get rid of the snow on the sloping roof slope. Climbing upstairs with a shovel and a small homemade scraper, I began to remove the snow and scrape off the ice. Honestly, the work was arguing and was already nearing completion - all that remained was to remove the joint between the slopes. What was my disappointment when the unsuccessfully broken scraper broke through the valley, and even at its lowest point. Needless to say, all day until dark I was repairing the gutter, reproaching myself for such an oversight. However, as they say, there is no silver lining. Once I got a lesson, by the next winter I was fully armed - though a simple, but very effective snow melting system was installed on the roof. Since it pleases me with its reliable and economical work for the seventh consecutive winter, I consider it my duty to share my knowledge and considerations with those who are just studying this issue.

In order to eliminate the dangers associated with the accumulation of ice and snow, a structure of electric heaters is mounted on the roof. With its help, it is possible to solve a wide range of tasks:

  • melting snow in places adjacent to cornices and drainage funnels;
  • prevention of the formation of ice plugs in water collectors and pipes;
  • prevention of ice formation near valleys, in gutters and pipes.

Since the main function of the roof anti-icing system is to drain melt water, its contours often cover not only downpipes, but also the receiving funnels of the drainage system.

Dumping snow from roofs by hand is not a good idea - it can easily damage the roof.

What does the anti-ice installation consist of and how does it work?

In its simplest form, a structure for protecting the roof from snow and ice consists of the following parts:

  • heating circuit, which includes separate sections of the heating cable, connecting conductors, fasteners and insulation;
  • thermal sensor;
  • electric thermostat;
  • power and signal cables.

More sophisticated systems can be supplemented with sensors that react to humidity and precipitation, a weather station, various programmers and safety devices.

The anti-ice installation includes not so many components, which makes it easy to assemble the structure with your own hands

The operation of the snow melting unit is provided by a thermostat. On a signal from the temperature sensor, it will turn on the heater every time the temperature drops below the set mark. Even an ignorant person will notice the imperfection of this design - the heating cables will turn on and burn electricity even when there is not a snowflake on the roof. For this reason, in more expensive systems, the power supply will not occur until the control unit processes a signal from another device - a humidity sensor. Heating will start only when the logic level is low, indicating the presence of ice. As soon as the signal device is in the water, the voltage supply will immediately stop - the main task is completed, and the inertia of the heaters will finish the job. Of course, such a system will work much more efficiently and economically.

Video: practical benefits of anti-icing installations

How to calculate the power of the anti-icing system and choose the right components

Starting to calculate the electrical power of the anti-icing system, they draw up a roof drawing indicating the zones that need to be heated. After that, a heating cable laying scheme is applied to it and the total footage of the heaters is calculated. All that needs to be done to determine the maximum load is to find the product of the cable length by its specific power (the manufacturer must indicate the heat release of the heater per linear meter of its length in the technical passport).

What places on the roof need to be heated

Those who think that the heating cable will need to be laid over the entire surface of the roof are very mistaken.... The main task of the protective structure is to ensure the operability of the drain and eliminate conditions for the formation of ice and snow drift. For this reason, it will be sufficient to install the heaters in several places.

  1. Sloping roof sections adjacent to the cornices. In places with a slope of up to 30 °, a zigzag installation is used, covering the entire cornice and an area with a width of at least 30 cm above the projection of the outlines of the outer walls. On more sloping surfaces (up to 12 °), the drainage of water is difficult, therefore, additional heaters are equipped with places of adjoining to funnels, water cannons and water collectors.

    On flat roof surfaces, heaters are mounted with a snake

  2. Gutters (valleys). These places are real snow collectors, therefore, they require the obligatory laying of one or two cable loops up to 40 cm wide. There is no need to heat the entire valley - it is enough to mount the heater only at the bottom, 1 / 3–2 / 3 of the height.

    To heat the valley, a few strands of cable are enough, laid in its lower part.

  3. Shower drains and gutters. The heater is led in parallel lines, which are attached to the opposite walls of the gutters in their lower part.

    Depending on the width of the gutters, you can use from one to four heater strings to heat them.

  4. Drainage funnels and water cannons. The anti-ice system should cover the junction points with an area of ​​0.5-1.0 m2, sinking into the water distributors to a depth not lower than the level of the upper ceiling. Funnels installed on risers do not need heat - they are quite enough for heating the gutter.

    Often, a part of the circuit mounted in the drainpipe is sufficient to heat the drain funnel.

  5. To heat the parapets, drippers and wall junction nodes, one cable branch will be enough, which is laid along their entire length.
  6. The most difficult part is to install the heating cable inside the downpipes. In this case, loops in the form of loops are used, which are attached to the opposite walls of the pipes. The lower bend is fixed on the surface of the gutter mark, if necessary, laying the heater with a snake. If it is also required to heat the receiving areas of the rainfall, the contour is lengthened taking into account the depth of soil freezing.

    The heating cable is laid in loops and fixed to the pipe walls

While focusing on the above areas and structural elements, we should not forget about other places with increased heat generation. So, in order to prevent the formation of ice around the skylights, it is necessary to lay one strand of cable around the entire perimeter. The heater itself should be brought along the path of the melt water outflow - in this way it will be possible to simultaneously kill two birds with one stone.

The anti-icing system covers not only the surface of the roof, but also applies to all elements of the drainage system

How many heaters are needed to heat the roof

So, the places for laying the heaters are marked. Now it is necessary to determine the length of the cable elements that will be needed to heat a particular area of ​​the roof. You don't need to do any complicated calculations - we will use the data obtained in a practical way. For efficient and economical operation of the system, the following electric power values ​​will be sufficient:

  • no more than 30 W / m when installed in drainpipes and trays, the cross-section of which does not exceed 100 mm;
  • not less than 35 W / m for trays and pipes with a diameter of 100 mm or more;
  • not less than 260-300 W / m2 for heating the valleys;
  • from 195 to 295 W / m2 for heating surfaces along the gutters;
  • from 175 to 245 W / m2 along parapets, cornices, drips and nodes where the roof joins the walls;
  • not less than 255 W / m2 when equipping with heaters places adjacent to funnels and water cannons.

Taking into account these data, the scheme of laying all the contours of the "anti-ice" system is determined and applied to the drawing. In those places where a higher thermal power is required, the cable is laid with a snake or "shell" - it all depends on the type and power of the heaters.

A scaled drawing of the roof with applied elements of the snow melting system will simplify calculations and facilitate installation

Thinking over the laying scheme, do not forget about such a parameter of the electric heating cable as the minimum bending radius. Do not try to deform the heater more than is intended by the manufacturer. Due to the peculiarities of its design, excessive rounding can lead to damage to the insulation or breakdown of internal conductors and reduce the durability of the heating circuit, or even completely disable it.

Which heating cable to choose

The cable heater is the main component of the de-icing system. Outwardly, it has a certain resemblance to an ordinary electric cable, but it is given out by an increased diameter. The latter is due to both a more complex design and the need to use thick layers of insulation for maximum protection against external damage and high humidity.

Manufacturers produce heating cables of two types:

  • resistive (one- and two-core);
  • self-regulating.

The former are notable for their extremely simple design, which does not prevent them from having a higher heat transfer. They are chosen because of the stability of characteristics, elasticity and relatively low price. The advantages of the latter are the ability to obtain more economical, reliable, maintainable and safe circuits. So that you do not have to make a choice based only on the pros and cons of heating elements, we will consider their design in more detail.

Resistive heating element

Resistive heating cables operate on the principle of ohmic loss in a conductor with high internal resistance. Their temperature reaches 250 ° C, which is explained by the high specific power - up to 30 W / m. Excellent technical characteristics allow the use of resistive cables where enhanced heating is required - in valleys, along the eaves, etc.

If the drainage system of your house is assembled from plastic pipes, funnels and gutters, then the maximum power of the heaters should not exceed 20 W / m. The same value of heat dissipation is taken for a roof with a soft coating.

Depending on the design, the resistance heater has one or two cores, placed in a heat-resistant fluoroplastic sheath. To eliminate the electromagnetic interference generated by the cable, copper braid or a solid screen of thin aluminum foil is used. The top of the structure is closed by a shell made of durable heat-resistant plastic.

The simplicity of the design of the resistive cable leads to its relatively low cost.

Knowing the device and the principle of operation of resistive heaters, we can learn a few useful points for ourselves:

  • the design is unregulated, therefore, a decrease in the efficiency of heat removal can lead to burnout of the working core. For this reason, overlap of the cable during installation is not allowed, and in addition, it will be necessary to regularly clean the heaters from a layer of fallen leaves and other debris;
  • if the heating conductor is damaged, the entire circuit will fail. And if it is not difficult to find the place of mechanical impact, then it will not be easy to determine the burnout point of the inner core;
  • a decrease in the parameters of an electric current when it passes through a long conductor leads to the appearance of a so-called hot and cold edge, which is fraught with the appearance of thermal stresses.

The main difference between single and two-core cables is that the latter allow a connection scheme only from one edge. This means that much less power conductors are needed during installation.

Depending on the type of resistive cable, it can be connected in two different ways.

Self-regulating cable

The live conductors of the self-regulating heater are in the environment of a special thermoplastic. Unlike ordinary plastic, its structure includes not only molecular chains, but also graphite grains. It is they who provide heating, turning the structure into an electrical system with many parallel resistances. And that is not all. The point is that the conductivity of graphite inclusions strongly depends on temperature. When it rises, resistance increases, and accordingly, heating decreases. Conversely, a decrease in temperature provokes an increase in current strength, thereby increasing the heat generation of the cable. That is why it is called self-regulating.

Heat dissipation of a self-regulating cable occurs due to heating of the polymer matrix

The most important advantages provided by the design of high-tech tape heaters are stable characteristics and the ability to use sections of any size. This type of cable does not overheat when overlapped and does not burn out in case of minor damage. For a long time, self-regulating heaters were inferior to resistive ones in terms of heat transfer and maximum temperature, but today there is no reason to talk about the significant superiority of the latter.

Based on my own experience and as the author of this article, I recommend that even at the design stage of the anti-ice system provide for the use of electric heaters of both types. Installation of resistive cables should be carried out in open areas - along eaves, on gutters, around roof windows, etc. Self-regulating elements will be useful where there is a risk of local overheating - in pipes, funnels and gutters. Thus, you will solve three problems at once: make the structure as efficient as possible, ensure its durability and get the opportunity to save energy.

Having decided on the type of electric heater for each circuit, you can begin to determine the electrical power. It is not difficult to do this - it is enough to multiply the length of the cable by its power density. So, when using 80 m of a resistive heater with a specific power of 25 W / m and 60 m of a self-regulating cable with a thermal efficiency of 15 W / m, the load on the electrical network will be (80 m × 25 W / m) + (60 m × 15 W / m) = 2900 W = 2.9 kW. In the future, this parameter will be needed when determining the cross-sections of power conductors, as well as when choosing protection and switching devices.

As the ambient temperature rises, the heat dissipation of the self-regulating cable decreases

Video: how self-regulating cable works

Equipment for switching, control and protection

After selecting the heating cables and performing the necessary calculations, you can proceed to the selection of other components of the anti-icing system. If you are going to build a budget structure on the roof, then prepare the following components.

  1. Thermostat. It doesn't matter which device you choose - it can be a mechanical or digital device equipped with a simple timer or programmer. The main thing is that the device can switch the total power of all circuits of the system. Knowing the predilections of manufacturers (especially for Chinese products) to rounding up the technical characteristics, the thermostat relay should have at least a 20 percent load current margin. So, for the example of the "anti-ice" installation with a heater power of 2.9 kW, a thermostat designed for a load of at least 3.5 kW is suitable. If it was not possible to select a regulating device with such parameters, then the load can be switched using additional relays, magnetic starters or contactors. As a rule, a home craftsman has more than one such device in his bins.

    The easy-to-install snow melting thermostat can be installed outdoors by placing it in a sealed enclosure.

  2. Temperature sensor. Usually it is included in the scope of delivery of the thermostat. If you need to complete the system from individual elements, then you should look for a thermal sensor provided by the manufacturer of the load control unit.
  3. Power cable and conductors for connecting individual circuits. For our case, double-insulated copper stranded wires are best suited. Their cross-section must correspond to the connected load. Power 2, kW in a 220-volt network corresponds to a current load of 2900 W / 220 V = 13.2 A, and for its switching you need wires with a cross section of 2.5 mm2... Use the table below to determine the dimensions of electrical conductors.
  4. Circuit breaker and residual current device (RCD). These devices will turn off the electricity if the system shows a leakage current of more than 30 mA or the load current exceeds the permissible value. Do not neglect the installation of protective equipment - in an emergency, it will protect against electric shock, and also prevent short circuit and fire.

Table: selection of copper wire depending on the current load

Heating circuit power, kW11,21,51,822,533,5456
Consumption current, A0,461,362,283,189,111,413,715,918,522,827,3
Stranded conductor cross-section, sq. mm0,751,01,21,51,52,02,52,53,04,05,0

If the budget allocated for the anti-ice installation allows you to purchase a control unit together with moisture and precipitation sensors, be sure to use this opportunity. The additional costs will pay off in the first two years, because such a system will be more economical.

The set of a complete, but at the same time quite budgetary system of snow melting consists of a control module and temperature and humidity sensors

Modern controllers of anti-ice installations include a whole weather station, and the most advanced of them can connect to the Internet. These capabilities allow implementing an intelligent control scheme, which significantly increases the efficiency of the system, makes it as economical as possible and contributes to the durability of all components.

Installation instructions for snow melting and anti-icing system

Before starting the installation work, you should clean the places where the heating cable is laid from fallen leaves and other debris. After that, it is necessary to inspect the roof and identify the dangers that lie in wait for signal, heating and power cables. Protruding fasteners, bent edges and sharp edges of the roofing can damage their shell, so all defects should be eliminated.

The anti-ice system is installed according to the following algorithm.

  1. The control cabinet is fixed in the place provided for by the project documentation. Install a circuit breaker and RCD, connect to the protective grounding system.
  2. A thermal sensor is mounted. Any place that is not exposed to the sun's rays throughout the day is suitable for attaching it. It is important that there are no outlets of sewer pipes, ventilation shafts, elements of heating and air conditioning systems near the temperature sensor.
  3. Precipitation and humidity sensors are attached. The first should be placed on an open horizontal section of the roof slope. Water presence sensors are installed at the lowest points of gutters, drainage funnels, water cannons and other elements of the drain, which melt water floods in the first place.

    Precipitation and humidity sensors are installed on open horizontal sections of the roof slope

  4. Signal wires are laid in parallel with the installation of the sensors. In factory sets of equipment, fasteners are provided by the manufacturer. When assembling a homemade system, the conductors can be secured with nylon ties or plastic ties.

    For fixing heaters and wires on the roof, special mounting strips are best suited, which, if necessary, can be turned into clips of the required length

  5. Guided by the installation scheme, the heating cables are mounted. On sloping sections along the eaves, they are laid in a zigzag manner, fixing them with mounting strips, stretch marks made of galvanized steel wire or metal clamps. If necessary, perforated plasterboard tapes can be used, but care must be taken to ensure that their sharp edges do not damage the cable insulation. No sagging of the electrical system lines is allowed.

    On sloping roof slopes, the heating cable should be fastened in a zigzag manner, observing the pitch and width of the installation

  6. In downpipes, the cable is attached to opposite walls, and with a significant length of the heater, to a special supporting cable or chain.

    If the cable is long and heavy, it is attached to a cable or chain laid inside the pipe.

  7. Junction boxes are installed at the connection points of heating, signal and power cables. Before bringing the ends of the conductors into them, measure the insulation resistance of each circuit and check the lines for an open. Further connections can be made only in the absence of leaks - the megohmmeter should show at least 10 megohms per meter. Connecting the loops to each other and to the power wires is best done using terminal blocks - this will ensure good contact and will make it easy to find the fault.
  8. Heating elements of individual circuits are connected in parallel, after which power cables are connected to them. The connections are carefully insulated and the junction boxes are protected from moisture ingress.

    All cable connections must be made inside sealed junction boxes and reliably protected from moisture ingress

While assembling your own de-icing system, your humble servant made one very big mistake. Collecting information on the network on how to fix a heating cable, I became interested in a rather interesting way using a metal mesh for reinforcing reinforced concrete structures. Numerous attachment points made it possible to quickly lay the heater and fix it with plastic ties. Having secured the sections of the construction mesh at the gutters, I was happy with the speed of installation. Disappointment came in the fall, when inspecting the system ahead of next season. The mesh served as a kind of filter, collecting a three-centimeter layer of fallen leaves, branches, dirt and other debris in its cells. In order not to expose the heater to the danger of overheating, several circuits of the system had to be dismantled and re-installed. Perhaps, for the roofs of houses far from forest park areas, this recommendation will be superfluous, but if tall trees grow nearby, it is better not to risk it.

All that remains is to check the correct installation and conduct a test switch-on. This is best done under suitable weather conditions. If precipitation is not expected in the near future, then you can pour water on the sensors installed on the roof. For testing, a current clamp is used - with their help, the current of each section is measured and conclusions are drawn about its performance. Troubleshoot if necessary.

Video: snow melting on the roof

Maintenance of the anti-ice installation

The snow melting system is a self-sufficient design, therefore it works in an automatic mode and does not require regular intervention. At the same time, it is very easy to ensure the efficient and durable operation of a self-assembled installation - just follow a few simple rules.

  1. The voltage supply to the heating cables must be carried out in the temperature range from -15 to +5 ° C. Take this condition into account when adjusting the thermostat or control unit.
  2. At least 1-2 times per winter, the system is inspected to check the integrity of the insulation and the reliability of the fasteners. In addition, the operation of the residual current device is tested.
  3. Based on observations, in places of possible collapse of snow caps, fences are installed to protect the heating circuits from mechanical damage.
  4. Before the first frosts, the roof is cleaned from debris and dirt. Special attention is paid to drains and other areas with heating cables. They can be cleaned with a soft brush or washed with water.

Casual people should not be allowed to service the structure - it is best to do this work yourself. The fact is that no one knows better than you about the peculiarities of fastening all elements of the snow melting system on the roof. It is for this reason that you can be sure not only of the operability of each circuit, but also that the roofing will remain intact.

The snow-melting and anti-icing system built in accordance with all the rules will protect your family and protect your property from ice and snow falling from the roof. In addition, the timely removal of melt water will make the roof more reliable and durable. From now on, you will forget about high-altitude work with a shovel and an ice ax at the ready. And this is correct, because free time, and even in a snowy winter, can be spent much more interesting, right?


Cable heating for roofs and gutters

The roof heating system is used to prevent ice plugs in the drainage system, providing a channel for defrosting water that is heated to the required temperature. On average, for effective heating 1 running. m of drain requires a power of 30-60 watts. Gutter heating is an excellent solution for both private and industrial facilities.

The valleys and abutments of the roof are areas of increased risk of snow accumulation. If an ice block forms in the lower part of these zones, melt water begins to rise upward, damaging the waterproofing on its way and penetrating into the room. The roof heating system prevents this process, which, among other things, entails expensive roofing repairs. It is considered sufficient to heat the valley by ½ of its length with an average cable power of 40–60 W / running. m.

On the surface of the so-called "warm roofs", the feature of which is low-quality thermal insulation, one can observe a large accumulation of snow and ice on the lower part of the roof. Due to poor thermal insulation, the snow cover on the roof melts and "slides" to the lower part of the roof. In this case, experts suggest using cable heating of the roof, installed on the lower slope (distance from the edge of the roof - 0.4–0.5 m). The average power of such heating should be at the level of 200-250 W / m². To exclude the likelihood of the descent of masses of snow and ice, special snow retention elements are installed.

Heating of gutters can be supplemented with cable heating of the ground drainage system, which can be located in the zone of soil freezing. Heated drainage is a guarantee that there will be no ice accumulations on the concrete blind area and the water will be fully drained into the well.

In some cases, a roof heating system involves installing a cable in the drip zone, on which icicles can form. Dripper heating is especially important for buildings with gutters that are installed directly on the roof slope.

Roofs with internal drainage need to be heated with funnels, ice plugs in which can lead to water congestion.


Anti-icing systems: modern icicle control

In recent years, our winter has been unstable: thaws are often replaced by frosts, frosts - thaws. Due to such weather "swings", the appearance of icicles on the eaves and ledges of the walls is inevitable, as well as icing of gutters. When designing houses, architects usually take this issue into account. However, constructive construction solutions can not always completely eliminate the causes of ice formation.


Modern Icicle Control

The simpler the roof profile and the greater the angle of its slopes, the less chances for ice. The nicest thing is a simple-shaped roof with a slope of at least 30 °. The presence of a cold, ventilated attic and the absence of gutters also reduce the chances of an "ice age". And here are dormers, balconies, turrets, internal gutters (valleys), etc. in the literal sense, water is poured into the mill for the formation of a snow cover on the roof, the harmful and dangerous consequences of which you do not need to tell.


Skylights, balconies, turrets, internal gutters (valleys), architectural details literally pour water on the mill for the formation of snow cover on the roof and other structures

Accordingly, all these architectural and construction details contribute to the appearance of ice and icicles on the roof and drainage systems.

Let's remember the publicly available physics

Frost does not form constantly in cold weather, but in February-March, when the air temperature jumps from +3. +5 ° С during the day to -6. -10 ° С at night. That is why the operating mode of the systems in question is set at a level not lower than +5. -15 ° C.

there is two reasons for the appearance of ice on roofs and drainage systems:

  1. heat consumption through the roof,
  2. jumps in temperatures from plus to minus during thaws.

The snow on the roof under the sun's rays or due to heat leaks from the rooms melts, and water flows along the cornices and gutters.Freezing when crossing zero, it turns into ice. Ice plugs form in gutters and downpipes. Since ice melts more slowly than snow, ice plugs can increase with new warming.

The consumption of heat through the floors of the house and the roof leads to the fact that the temperature of the central part of the roof becomes higher than the ambient air temperature. At the heart of this "trouble" is the weak heat protection of the under-roof space and zero roof ventilation. Melting snow on the slopes gradually slides, and melt water freezes on the roof overhangs blown by the wind, forming ice and icicles and clogging the drain.


Melting snow on the slopes gradually slides, and melt water freezes on the roof overhangs blown by the wind, forming ice and icicles and clogging the drain

Water congestion on the roof in inclement seasons leads to leaks, damaging the upper floors of houses and fragments of facades near gutters and valleys. It becomes damp in the under-roof space. This invariably increases the thermal conductivity of the insulation (the opposite of the desired result) and provokes the appearance of fungi and mold on wooden rafters.

Ice in the gutters not only deforms, but can even destroy the elements of the drainage system. Who among us has not seen broken gutters and ice-torn pipes? Icicles hanging on the eaves of the roofs not only spoil the appearance of the house (you can still put up with this for a couple of harsh weeks), but also threaten the lives of the owners and bystanders.


Icicles hanging on the eaves of the roof not only spoil the appearance of the house (you can still put up with this for a couple of harsh weeks), but also threaten the lives of the owners

The most efficient way to deal with this problem is to use cable de-icing systems... This method is widely used in northern countries. Its meaning is not in the fight against the already formed ice, but in preventing its formation.

Prevent water from freezing on the elements of the roof and in the gutters, ensure the possibility of its drainage through the gutters into the storm sewer - the main task of the cable de-icing system... Agree that heating melt water will require less heat input (energy consumption) than melting ice.

Cable de-icing system

The essence of cable de-icing systems is simple: a heating cable is laid on roofs and in drainage systems.


For flat tiles, special cable clips are provided. Photo: profstroy33.ru

When connected, it heats up, the snow lying next to it melts and does not turn into ice, but flows from the roofs along the gutters.


The cable heats up, and the snow lying nearby is melting. Photo from icedamcompany.com

And there are already installed their own heating cables. The main thing is not to let the water freeze.

The system includes heating cables, power wires, sensors, control panel, junction boxes and hardware. Electric cables are powered from a household network with a voltage of 220 V. If so, then when designing and installing the system, it is necessary to follow the requirements of the Electrical Installation Rules (PUE). You will find them in the article Ordinary conventional electricity.

In addition to overload protection, the power supply system must necessarily include insulation monitoring sensors or a residual current device (RCD). All this, together with a grounded heating cable braid, will provide complete electrical safety anti-icing installation.

The operation of the cables is "controlled" by an automatic thermostat, which removes the necessary information from the sensors installed on the roof - temperature, relative humidity, the presence of water on the roof.

Switching diagram of individual elements of the system. Photo: evrolain.com.ua

After receiving signals about climatic conditions provoking the formation of ice, the thermostat gives "the go-ahead" to turn on the electricity through the loops of the heating cable, which begins to warm itself and generate heat. In good weather, the thermostat automatically turns off the heating. Here it must be borne in mind that excess overheating is thrown away money, which may still be useful to you.

The described situation is aerobatics, implying 100% completeness of the heating system. But you can save a little: give up sensors and a thermostat and control the system in manual mode.

Cable heating equipment set comprises:

  • heating segment, including heating cables and elements of their fastening
  • a distribution segment (fully equipped), consisting of a power network for supplying heating cables, an information network that transmits signals from sensors to the control system, and junction boxes
  • automatic control system.

Where to put?

There is no reason to lay the heating cable exclusively along the edge of the roof and not to heat the drainpipes: the melt water will drain from the roof, but once it gets into the cold drain it will freeze right there.


This picture was taken by the author in Norway. There is not a single downpipe without a heating cable. An overabundance of waterfalls gives this country cheap electricity

Heating is especially needed on complex elements of the roof: at internal corners, near protruding structures (lamps, pipes, skylights, etc.), as well as on flat areas. On flat roofs and roofs with a low slope (up to 30 °), the heating cable is usually laid either over the entire surface (how much electricity will "run" here!), Or on receiving gutters and areas adjacent to the gutters.

The electric cable is laid along the edge of the roof, inside the gutters and lowered into the gutters along the inner surface of the pipe and funnel. At the bottom of the drainpipe, on the cut-out spout, the wire is made in the form of a loop.


Installation of heating systems for pipes and roofs. Photo from soldim-heating.ru

On the eaves, the heating cable is placed exactly along the edge. If you do not follow this recommendation, the cable will melt the snow, but the melt water, reaching the cold edge of the roof, will freeze and turn into icicles. The effect will be the opposite, and taking into account the cost of electricity - negative.

In order to fix the cable in the desired position and eliminate tangling and overlaps, special clamps and fasteners are used.


Cable heating of the gutter. Photo from the site otopim-dom.ru

Design capacity of the system depends on:

  1. roof area and its configuration,
  2. the length of the drainpipes and trays.

It is calculated by the length of the heating cable and the actual power consumption per 1 running meter. m of cable, which is usually 25-60 W. Here you can already pick up a pencil and do approximate calculations specifically for your house or cottage.

Calculation example:
Let's say a horticultural partnership allocates 6 kW to your home, that is, 6000 watts. Let's reserve one kilowatt for the refrigerator, TV and emergency lighting. So you have 5000 watts to warm up your work cables. Divide 5000 W by 50 W / 1 meter. We get 100 m of cable. Thus, you can operate with a cable length of 100 meters. Now calculate the perimeter of the roof and the length of the downpipes of your country house. For a modest cottage, this cable length may be enough.

It should also be remembered that this “squandering” of electricity, aimed at combating objective natural phenomena, lasts a hundred or two hours a year.

How are heating cables arranged?

Main technical parameter of cable - power per unit length. In other words, it is important how much heat one running meter of the cable will release.


Heating cables. Photo from icedamcompany.com

Additional requirements for outdoor work are also very strict:

  • electrical safety,
  • weather resistance,
  • resistance to UV radiation,
  • mechanical strength.

Exists two types of heating cables:
  1. resistive with constant resistivity
  2. self-regulating with a special heating element that changes its power depending on the outside temperature.

The former consist of a metal conductive conductor that generates heat, insulation, copper braid and a high-strength PVC or fluoropolymer outer jacket. Differ single-core (one heating core) and two-core (one heating core, the second - connecting) cables. The latter are more expensive, but easier to assemble.

A single-core cable is connected to the mains from both ends, a two-core cable from one. At the other end, a plug is placed that connects the heating and connecting conductors. The choice of cable type depends on the area and configuration of the roof sections to be heated.

The main drawback of resistive cables is the constant resistance along the entire length, and therefore they heat the same everywhere. This leads to unnecessary energy consumption, since the heat transfer conditions over the entire length of the cable can be different.

For example, the foliage that has flown from the trees and covered with itself a part of the cable noticeably changes the thermal engineering conditions of this segment. Therefore, in some areas, the resistive cable will overheat, and this will unreasonably increase the cost of its operation. And under the foliage, it can even overheat and burn out. Such a cable requires constant external control and maintenance: for example, cleaning branches, fallen leaves and other debris from the roof.

In addition to resistive, there is also self-regulating cablesthat automatically change heat generation depending on the ambient temperature and are able to economically consume electricity. Moreover, this property is local: each section of the cable reacts to the conditions surrounding it.

This is truly high technology. Without going into them, I will say that between the two current-carrying conductors there is a heating element connected to them - a polymer matrix with a conductive filler. The latter has a high coefficient of thermal expansion. Therefore, when it gets cold, the material of the heating element of the matrix shrinks, its resistance decreases, and the amount of current passing through the matrix increases. Of course, heat dissipation immediately increases. And vice versa: as the air temperature rises, the resistance increases, and the amount of heat decreases, which prevents overheating. Such a cable is not afraid of the cover of last year's leaves.

The choice of this or that type of cable depends on the characteristics of each roof and the financial capabilities of the owner of the house.

Work for professionals

Not everyone can design and install a cable de-icing system on their own. This is especially true for electrical safety issues. Analyze the situation, carry out a competent calculation of the system, choose high-quality material and reliable equipment - this requires the experience of professionals or gifted Kulibins. Please note that:

  • Defining requirement for installation anti-icing system - availability of free power in the power grid.
  • Cable installation work is in progress only in the complete absence of snow and rain at t not lower than -5 ° С.
  • And one more prerequisite: all electrical connections must be made only by a licensed electrician.

The works are carried out in the following sequence.
  1. It is advisable to lay a distribution network and install a distribution cabinet even before laying the top layer of the roof.
  2. After laying the roof and drainage system, a heating network is installed and sensors are installed.
  3. Then the control and switching equipment is mounted and the system is tested.

The heating cable mounted on the roof is protected from mechanical damage by a snow breaker. To securely fix the cable, use a special mounting tape, a mesh with frost-resistant clamps, and special plastic fasteners.

The spacing between the fasteners should not exceed 300-350 mm. It is required to ensure that the cable lines do not come into contact, let alone intertwine with each other. At the beginning of autumn, a test run is carried out to check the readiness of the system for operation in the cold season.

Installation price anti-icing systems vary widely depending on the materials and equipment used, the operating mode of the control system and the characteristics of the roof. You can choose a suitable system on our market, where offers from the largest online stores are collected.

Expensive systems are characterized by increased reliability and last longer, and, most importantly, they can significantly reduce energy consumption. After all, the cost of paying for electricity - the main disadvantage of cable heating... Although it largely depends on the prudent and careful supply of voltage to the heat cable.

Subject to proper design and installation, the use of roof de-icing systems based on heating cables will allow you completely eliminate the formation of ice and ensure the operability of the drain... And most importantly, the roof will remain intact, regardless of the vicissitudes of the weather and climate.


How the roof snow melting system works

The main function of the snow melting system is to empty the drain pipes for melt water. At any temperature, the liquid must move along the drains. Electric heating continues until the snow melts completely.

Factors Affecting Snow Melting:

  1. Features of roof equipment
  2. Ambient temperature
  3. The quality of the roofing cake (the amount of heat loss)
  4. Windiness
  5. Humidity.

But there are other factors of influence as well. But the principle of operation itself is quite simple. The system must first analyze all temperature and humidity readings. After that, the optimal mode is determined and heating starts. This saves electrical energy. This aspect is quite important, because the total power of the cable can be quite large.

For the system to work properly, it is necessary to select high quality materials and carry out the correct calculation.

After determining the air temperature, a timer is turned on for a certain period of time. When this period has passed, the liquid and precipitation sensors are triggered. With excess snow, the heating of the roof and gutters starts. When the precipitation has passed, the roof itself stops heating, but the functionality of the pipes and trays remains active. This is done so that the flowing liquid cannot freeze in the drain. The entire operation of the system is fully automatic, which is quite convenient for the owner of the house.


Calculation of power and installation of the roof de-icing system

Power calculation fromanti-icing systems

In order for the anti-icing system to cope with its task, it must have sufficient power, which must be determined by the specialist of the installer. In the Kiev area recommended power of cable systems is 30-50 W / m. n. - for narrow trays and drainpipes, 50-100 W / m. p. - for wide gutters, 10-30 W / m. etc. - for roof slopes and valleys. The last figure depends on the composition of the roofing "pie": the better its thermal insulation characteristics, the less heat inside the house passes through it and the less power of the system can be designed.

Of course, the higher the power of the cables in the system, the higher its total cost. However, it is not recommended to reduce the power indicators below the required ones, otherwise, in a situation where there is a sharp cold snap after a daytime thaw, the structure may not cope and will rather help the formation of ice than "wash" the snow from the coating. So that it is better on the contrary - install cables with a power reserve.

See also: Snow melting systems: how to melt snow

Installation and operation fromanti-icing systems

The anti-icing system must be installed qualified specialists, which on the spot will preliminarily determine the most dangerous zones of the roof and make the measurements and calculations necessary for installation. Just laying the cable in a trough or pipe is not enough, it must be fixed with clips made of plastic or galvanized steel... When fastening the system, it is unacceptable to violate the integrity of the upper layer of the roof. Rivets are used only for gutters in places where it is indispensable. On top of the metal tile, it is better to first glue the rubberized fabric, to which the cable is hooked. But on natural tiles, ice practically does not form, and here the system is usually laid only in gutters. In valleys and downpipes, cable fasteners are usually suspended from a metal cable so that the melting ice does not hang on the thermal cable and break it.

It is better to trust the installation of companies that will provide warranty and post-warranty service, and also have a state license for the installation of electrical equipment and a fire safety certificate for electrical equipment.

See also: Installing a snow melting system

After installation, the owner must provide system data sheet, working drawings and acceptance certificates. The latter should only be signed after checking the system. Once every 2-3 years (or better annually at the beginning of autumn), it is worth calling a service specialist who will inspect the external state of the heating sections, tighten connections and contacts if necessary, and also test the operation of the control automation.

The electrical safety of anti-icing systems is ensured by the presence of a shielding braid and reliable cable insulation. At the same time, on the roof, the latter is exposed to a sharp effect of high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation, which provokes the disintegration of the polymer coating. Therefore, reliable materials with a good protective shell are used here. The lead-in cable is laid in a weather-resistant metal sleeve to protect it from mechanical damage during roof maintenance. In addition, all supply lines must be equipped with a residual current device (RCD).

To the question about the price

You can also find out the approximate cost of the system by phone, for which you should tell about the length of the gutters, the surface area occupied by the house, the angle of inclination and the material of the roof covering. For a full-fledged calculation, it is necessary to know not only the length, but also the number of downpipes, trays, valleys, etc. about $ 500 e. A similar project with automated control of heating the roof and gutters will cost about 1,000 cu. That is (both in the first and in the second cases, resistive cables are provided, not self-regulating cables).


Plastic roof gutters: prices for products from various manufacturers

On the modern market, you can find many different proposals, despite the fact that this attribute for the arrangement of a country house appeared in our country quite recently. And since it should be admitted that there are few people who have heard of gutter manufacturers, we will consider the most popular of them, taking into account the characteristics of their plastic gutters, customer reviews and the price category to which they are located.

Gutter system components

Deke gutters: German quality at affordable prices

Docke gutters are standard products. At an affordable cost, the quality of the materials used will delight even demanding users. Of course, it is difficult to provide the cost of at least one ready-made kit, since it all depends on the size of the house, the step and the number of fasteners used. However, it is quite possible to consider the prices of individual elements of Docke plastic gutters:

  • a three-meter gutter with a diameter of 120.65 mm will cost about 317 rubles
  • a drain pipe of the same length will cost 384 rubles
  • the cost of one funnel is 215 rubles.

As you can see, these are economy class goods available for purchase to everyone. There are practically no complaints or significant criticism among customer reviews. The Alta Profile gutters belong to the same price category.

Plastic gutters Technonikol: a large selection of high quality gutters

Plastic gutters from the French manufacturer Nicoll are middle-class products, which are characterized by an attractive appearance and rather high quality of each component. But such purchases are no longer available to everyone, since the cost, for example, of a 4 m long gutter will be about 920 rubles, and one funnel will cost 850 rubles.

Plastic gutters from the manufacturer Nicoll are represented by a wide range at an affordable price

At the same time, the choice of models is very large, so there is an opportunity to choose the right option for any home, regardless of the design style and materials used.

Exquisite and expensive Marley gutters

It is impossible not to mention the classic gutters made by Marley. This is a great option for those who strive for original design solutions and at the same time are ready to pay a considerable price for such an element as a gutter.

Of course, it makes no sense to buy plastic roof gutters, the price of which is so high, if the design of the house is quite simple. In this case, the usual models will be enough, which will not be inferior to Marley in quality, but will cost much less.

Important! The price of a heating cable for roofs and gutters, the importance of the installation of which will be discussed later, may also differ depending on the manufacturer.


Installation instructions for the drainage system

Step by step, we will consider how to install gutters.

Step 1. Attaching the brackets


Gutter brackets. (photo # 5)

We can use brackets made of metal and plastic. The choice is determined by what the gutter is attached to.

Metal brackets - if the gutters are attached to the rafters.

How do I mount them? First, we install the extreme elements 15 cm from the end. A gap of at least 2 cm must be provided between the frontal board and the bracket.

Pull the cord between the installed brackets. Along it, at a distance of 60 cm from each other, we fix all the other brackets. Important: there should be a slight slope towards the drain. It is optimal if it is 3-4 mm per 1 running meter.

Plastic brackets can be used if the gutter is attached to the frontal board. But first we check that it is installed vertically, evenly, without curvature. In the same way, you need to double-check the brackets that will be attached to it. The quality of the entire system depends on this.

Like metal brackets, first we fix the plastic brackets approximately 15 cm from the end of the gutter. We pull the twine, along which, using self-tapping screws, we mount all other brackets with a step of 60 cm. It is also important to provide a slope for the natural movement of water towards the pipe.

Step 2. Installing gutters


Installation of a gutter. (photo # 6)

We insert the groove into the brackets one by one. In this case, you need to press until it clicks.

Step 3. Attach the funnel




Funnel fixing. (photo # 7)

The hole for the funnel must be cut in a solid gutter (installation of the funnel in a fragment of the gutter is not allowed).

The funnel is installed in the right place. With a pencil, mark its size. Then we cut a corresponding hole in the gutter. For this, it is convenient to use a bimetallic bit. You need to work at low speeds.

We remove burrs on the edge. We cling the edge to the rear edge of the gutter and start it behind the front. In this case, a characteristic click will be heard.

The place where the funnel is installed must be reinforced on both sides with brackets.

Stage 4. Installation of metal mesh

The mesh is installed in the funnel hole. This is an optional, optional step.

Step 5. Installation of gutter couplings

As the temperature changes, the plastic elements expand and contract. Therefore, they should not be joined too tightly. For this purpose, on the reverse side of the Alta-Profile coupling, a special restriction with the inscription “Stop” is provided.

We hook the edge of the coupling onto the rear edge of the gutter. Then we start the leading edge over the edge in front. A characteristic click will be heard.

To give the system strength, we install additional brackets on both sides of the coupling.

Step 6. Mounting the corner of the gutter

We install the brackets as close to the corners as possible. Insert the edge of one groove into the corner element, then the second - until it clicks.

An alternative is to use an adjustable gutter angle. The application method is the same as we used the universal 90 degree angle. First we insert the gutter, then we adjust the required angle and insert the second gutter, until it clicks, but no further than the bounding mark with the inscription “Stop”.

Step 7. Fastening the plug


Fastening the plug. (photo # 8)

There are special tendrils inside the plug that fix it firmly on the gutter. With their help, we fix the plug.

Step 8. Installation of the pipe bend


Pipe elbow. (photo # 9)

Install the pipe bends in the direction of the drain, so that the slope angle differs from the vertical position.

Step 9. Pipe installation


Pipe installation. (photo # 10)

Insert the upper edge of the pipe into the elbow socket. We fix the pipe to the wall using clamps, which we place 180 cm (or less) from each other.

To keep the pipes vertical, you need to make sure that the brackets that hold the gutters are also installed vertically, without deviations.

Only in the lower part, the pipe can deviate slightly from the vertical, but in the direction opposite to the wall of the house.

Step 10. Installation of clamps

Install the upper clamp under the downspout elbow.

To do this, bend back part of the clamp and thus open it. We insert the pipe until it clicks and fix it. We snap the clamp and fix it with a self-tapping screw.

Step 11. Mounting the pipe coupling

To connect two pipes in length, we use a coupling.

Step 12. Installing the drain

The drain is installed at the bottom of the pipe. We fix it with self-tapping screws.

The work has been completed. Now you know how to mount a plastic gutter. The metal gutter system is installed in the same way, but with some nuances.


Watch the video: Where to install heat cable. Not only gutters!!


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