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DIY Heat tape alternative?

9883 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Red Squirrel
I've been thinking of adding heat tape to my gutters as they tend to fill up with water then freeze when we got hot winter days that cause the snow to melt a bit.

Rather than actual heat tape that is more sensitive to sharp objects such as a trowl to clean the gutters, I could run pex pipe throughout all the gutters and downspouts. It is more robust and on it's own does not really have points of failure such as wires shorting out, elements burning out etc. The two ends would go into the house. From there, I would either pump hot air through it, or liquid, but hot air would be ideal as I don't have to worry about finding a liquid that wont freeze. I could either generate my own heat for it, or use the heat from the house, possibly the server room.

Basically it would just be a heat exchanger. Would probably cost less to run too. Now this would not be as effective as real heat tape, but if left on 24/7 would it at least eventually work ok? I'd imagine the liquid or air going through would need to go through very fast as to dissipate it's heat slowly and more equally throughout the entire system. I'd be looking at maybe 200 feet worth of run. If I go with air, just not sure what I'd actually use, guess some kind of high static pressure blower or something.
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Sounds like you either have to pony up the $ or practice swinging your hatchet/hammer.

Air is a horrible conductor of energy. The amount of heated air you would have to produce to effectively heat the gutters would outweigh the initial and operating cost of the electrical heat trace. How where you going to propel the air? You would need to by pumps and heat exchangers.

If you want the least amount of headache then buy the heatrace and move it our of your way when you clean you gutters that one time of year. Or, clean as usual and chop in winter.
Yes, sorry to say but this is a silly idea. You'd be lucky if it melted anymore than a couple millimeters away from the pipe, and you'd just be piping frigid air into your house to boot... chances are you'd just end up pumping water into the house too.

Just buy the heat tape...
Kinda what I figured, thought I'd check to see before I even consider it further. Thought I could maybe kill two birds with one stone. Server cooling and ice melting. I'll stick to my original server cooling plan. Same idea, but the pex will just go around the perimeter of the garage crawlspace.
Could you put that heat to use around your hot water heater, or install a secondary tank for preheated water?
My original plan may work ok, as the crawlspace I'll be using needs to be heated, though now that I got it spray foamed it does not require a 4800w heater anymore either, so this heat may be enough to keep it above freezing.

As for the heat tape, I'll stick to using the proper heat tape, and what I'll do is just have it on a switch. Rather than having it on all the time, I would just turn the switch on if I see ice buildup. This only happens after really hot winter days as the snow that melted then turns into ice. Or I might just leave it as it is, it has not really caused me any issues so far. I just knock down the big icicles as needed.
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