This is a series of questions we get all the time, especially around winter.
Heat tape is a luxury for any home, but for a retirement community, it’s one of those extras that we like to include with your home at no extra charge.
There are a few things to know before winter sets in. If you remember them, or read this, it wouldn’t hurt to check up on your neighbor who might’ve forgotten about them.
In Depth on Our Heat Tape
What is heat tape for?
A common misconception is that heat tape is to stop icicles or to prevent damage to your roof. This is mostly false. Homes that are built to code, should never need heat tape to prevent water intrusion. Also, we don’t care so much about icicles. In Utah, we have a real winter and this is something we sometimes put up with.
The reason we put heat tape on our homes is to prevent ice dams from causing water to drip onto walking surface, which would then create a safety hazard for many seniors and non-seniors alike. It’s not something we’re required to do, but we want to do it.
Where do we install heat tape?
Keep in mind, that for most homes, there are only two possible places that we would be concerned about putting heat tape on.
Of those two areas, we usually only put it on one of them. This is because, given the varied orientation of the homes, usually at least one of those areas is always exposed to the sun and will not experience the heavy ice dams that more shaded areas will.
The two areas that we might put heat tape on are over the garages and over the front doors.
Even though we will likely only put heat tape on one of those areas, unless we deem it necessary on the other area, we still pre-wire for it.
We also pre-wire for heat tape over your covered patio. We never put it there, but if you like to use your patio much during the winter, it’s nice to know that you could install some for yourself.
When to turn it on?
The type of heat tape that we put on has a thermostat attached to it. While the cost to run heat tape can be a hit to your electric bill, this thermostat should help so that it doesn’t run full time, only when freezing conditions warrant it.
We usually recommend that people turn on their heat tape at the beginning of November, BEFORE the snow falls. Once the snow is on the roof and an ice dam has been created, the heat tape becomes ineffective. It just tunnels a hole through the ice, but will never keep the gutters free, thus the water will sheet down onto your sidewalk or driveway and cause a dangerous ice skating rink.
So please, if you don’t want to be fighting ice covered walk-ways, turn your heat tape on and leave it on for the winter.
What about those areas that are pre-wired for heat tape but don’t have the actual heat tape installed?
You may not want to add extra heat tape, but perhaps you would like to hang Christmas lights. If you look where the heat tape would normally come out, just under your soffit, there is simple a blank box there with a wire dead-ending into it. If you want, you can install an electrical outlet to that box and run your holiday light show.
Where are the switches?
The switches to control these locations are located in two main areas.
First: The switch to control the heat tape over your front door is located on the wall, just behind your opened front door.
Second: The switches for your driveway and patio heat tape are located just inside your garage as you enter from your house. You’ll know which ones they are, because they never turn on any lights.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask one of our representatives.