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Old 12-22-2009, 06:20 PM   #31
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


Though there's probably nothing you can do now, we have installed enough SR cable to know that a single run in your working conditions won't be enough to keep the gutter clear.

As for your start-up issues, I would need to know the setup. Which cable do you have 120 or 240v? How many feet on each run in total? What controls are there? i.e., just three circuit breakers or is there a control panel with buttons on the front? etc.. the more information you can give me, the more I can feed back. Keep in mind, garbage in...

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Old 12-22-2009, 06:45 PM   #32
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


The circuits are all 110. I'm approximating, but the one on the North side is around 150' as is that on the South side. The one on the East side is around 50'-75'. Unfortunately, they are wired in from locations that are separated by a substantial distance, two in outside plugs but one in a peripheral fuse box in the garage. I guess I could rig something near the main fuse box, but that would take somewhat more skill than I have. I'm liking the moisture/temperature alternative, but buying three of them could get expensive.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:24 PM   #33
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Hoping they are truely on separate circuits, you don't need three sensors. Plus, make sure that they used GFEP breakers, not GFCI. GFEP breakers are ground fault equipment Protection, not people protection and they are more forgiving on startup.

You only need a 120v/30a three pole contactor (maybe $100 if they treat you fairly), with a 120v coil. The lengths of cable you have out can really only be run on 3 separate circuits. Depending on the manufacturer, generally speaking, a 120v/30a dedicated circuit can have a maximum of about 175+/- linear feet of cable on it before requiring a separate feed. You can go up to about 375'+/- for a 240v/30a cable and circuit. But that's moot.

You will need a licensed electrcian to hook it up but here's how it lays out:
The sensor is the switch for the power to the coil on the three pole contactor. You run 120v to (and through) the sensor to the contactor. This 120v will not only power the sensor but it will also activate the coil on the contactor when the sensor is activated by temperature and moisture. You then will have to run three 120v power sources (1 for each zone that you already have) to the three pole contactor. When the sensor is activated, the contactor pulls in and that turns on all three zones. Done!
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:48 PM   #34
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


Thanks so much for the advice. I'm assuming that the contactor is a mongo relay. I'm old enough to have worked with these a lot for logic and timing circuits before the transistor era.
The cables are definitely on separate circuits. A couple of them started out as GFCIs, but they kept blowing on startup, so I had them put in slower blowing equivalent ground-fault breakers in the fuse box that cost a fortune; I haven't heard the term "GFEP" but I would guess that is what they put in. The first circuit, in its own peripheral box, I assume, is the same, but I'll check. (It would seem that I could walk outside to check, but I'm in my office in Denver, and the home is in the mountains, 1.5 hours away.)
In bed, last night, I sort of figured out a similar solution, the only problem being that I would need an electrician to interrupt these three circuits near the fuse box, which is the only location at which they converge.
If it's not too much trouble, and you have the info. at hand, could you suggest brands/models for the sensor and contactor? Don't go to any trouble; I can search on the internet, but there appear to be a lot of options.
Again, thanks so much.
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Old 12-23-2009, 01:06 PM   #35
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We use any major brand of contactor. They're not really 'mongo' contactors. In the metal box with screw lid it should be mounted in would probably measure about 6" square for wall space +/-.

We use Automated Systems Engineering sensors. Since you have a gutter system, use the DS-8. It has a remote mounted moisture sensor that you can put right in the gutter. We sell them for $325.00 so expect something in that range.

We have used another popular brand in the past that looks similar but had really bad experiences with their service when under warranty. ASE is a great company and very knowledgable. I'm not sure if they will sell direct. You may need to buy from a distributor near you (for convenience).
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:45 PM   #36
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


Was it warmsmeallup who mentioned a problem with using the electric tape in the gutters when there are leaf guards in place? I also live in the hills in Colorado (at 8500') and have gutter icing. I put some basic electric heat tape in the gutters after having a problem where they filled up with ice. This resolved the problem as long as each time it snows I rake the snow off the eaves and then out of the gutter. It was considering installing the leaf guards or gutter helmet or whatever this summer. Then I can more easily pull the snow off the eaves without filling the gutters with the snow. I was thinking the water that runs down the roof as the snow melts would then just fall into the gutters and run off as usual. If the water froze in the gutter then I could plug in the heat tape that is already in the gutter.

What is the fallacy in this seemingly simple solution?

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Old 03-31-2010, 04:40 PM   #37
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


I have a question....perhaps warmsmellup can help.

I'm in Omaha, Nebraska. The climate is similar to Clifton Park

The only ice problem I have is in a "valley". This winter, which was one of the worst on record I had a huge ice buildup in the valley and it resulted in some water entering the house. I'm looking for a solution.

Here are some

1) It is on the north side of the house and gets absolutely no sun.

2) It is not a normal "valley". One side is a very steep slope and the other side of the "valley" is a vertical exterior side wall.

3) The "Valley" is narrow, 6" at the bottom and widens to over 24" at the top.

4) The top of the "valley" also ends at a vertical wall.

5) Snow often packs into the valley. This year is was up to 24" deep.

6) During most of the winter, temperatures in the shade rarely get above 32 degrees and single digits / teens are normal. This year we had over a dozen days below zero at night.

So, would a Self-regulating heat cable work? Would I need a "heavy duty" one? Any better solutions?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 03-31-2010, 05:40 PM   #38
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


AltaJoe:
I think I can picture what you mean but let's be sure. Can you either post or email me a digital picture of the valley? You know the saying about what a pictures' worth?!

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Old 03-31-2010, 06:13 PM   #39
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Just sent 2 shots with "Omaha" in the subject line.

Thanks.
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Old 10-30-2010, 01:41 AM   #40
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We just paid $1200 to a roofing company to install heat tape on the roof, in the gutters, and down the downspouts. As the installers were leaving, they told me that there was only enough heat tape to go 1/2 way down each downspout. He assured me that was plenty - and guaranteed that the no ice would form in the spout. However, everything I have read says that the tape should go the enitre length of the downspout - and out the end.
Should I make a big deal about this and make them fix it by installing enough tape sufficient to do the job properly (running the entire length of the downspouts) - or is it fine the way it is??
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-30-2010, 06:30 AM   #41
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I can guarantee you that the water will refreeze in the lower part of the downspout, just like an ice maker...only faster. Yes, make an issue out of the shortfall.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:26 PM   #42
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Need advice on roof heat tape.


If you actually get ice on the roof (as opposed to on the surface of the snow), then it's most likely a lack of insulation. You are losing heat and it is melting the snow then freezing. I would work on fixing that problem. Having heat tape in the gutters only is not a bad idea though, I have seen it where you get a really hot day and the snow melts a bit and forms ice in the gutters. I had that problem last year though it was because of a badly placed bathroom vent which I now fixed.

Another danger with ice forming under the snow is it is a ticking time bomb. One day, you'll get a couple hundred pounds of snow come sliding down and crashing on whatever or whoever happens to be there.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:58 PM   #43
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We actually have GREAT insulation in the attic...R49, I believe; so, that's not the problem. Also have great ventilation (at each end of attic, plus a roof vent all along the peak. We never had ice dams or icecycles UNTIL we had gutter helmets installed! Now, when it warms up outside after a snowfall, it begins to melt under the snow on roof, but doesn't just run off into the gutter. Instead, the water hits the metal gutter helmet - (which goes from under the shingles down to the gutter) - freezing quickly, then starts backing up. We had water damage 2 winters in a row, which is why we decided on heat tape.
Apparently, the installers have done an incomplete job - not running the cables all the way through the downspouts. Have to wait 'til Monday to talk to them...hoping they won't give us a hard time about fixing it, since they said it was fine the way it was.
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Old 10-31-2010, 03:22 PM   #44
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Ahh yes... Gutter Helmets..we're no longer talking about just your evryday ice makers, we're now talking industrial ice makers! Their design is perfect for keeping leaves out of the gutters. They do a fantastic job of it. However, if you go to your local restaurant...any restaurant that has an ice maker and take a look inside as to how it makes ice, you will see a flat metal surface that is refrigerated and has water flowing over the top. The ice builds until it hits a sensor then a heated grate drops over the top cuts it into cubes. They may vary but that is the same exact design of Gutter Helmets or anything like the Gutter Helmet design.

If your roofers only installed a single run of gutter melt on the bottom of the gutters and downspouts, let alone not to the bottom, it won't accomplish a thing. You should go to the gutter helmet site. They now have a special clip you have to buy to install under the Helmet that allows you to make a double run of heated wire so it heats the helmet preventing the ice from forming there. That allows the water to run under it into the gutter where you then have to keep it flowing to the ground.

When we install a self regulating heated wire system, we ONLY install double runs in the gutter with a loop down the spout to the very bottom so that the water can drip off the loops' end. Sometimes you can get away with a single run but that's dependant on how much roof area the gutters are covering.

Good luck tomorrow.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:24 AM   #45
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Oh great...that doesn't sound very encouraging. There is only one run of cable. I feel sick - especially after spending $1200 on a job that, no doubt, will not solve our problem.
I just saw that your company isn't too far away from us - will be contacting you.
Really appreciate your advice. Thanks!

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