Every year around this time, the temperatures start dropping and the snow starts flying. Most folks who’ve spent any amount of time in Utah, know that the cold season can bring great fun or great risk.
Today, I wanted to remind all of the great folks who’ve bought from us in the past, that now is the time to turn on your heat tape.
Even if you don’t have any snow on your roof, it might be a good idea to turn the heat tape on.
Our active adult communities provide the convenience of heat tape on our most susceptible homes, and we do it free of charge in certain locations. It’s one of those little extras that helps set us apart from other builders.
What to do about Winter?
Most of our homes come equipped with heat tape. However, just in case you say, “Where is mine?” know that we only put it on the areas that are most at risk of causing dangerous ice dams in walking areas.
So for most south facing roofs, this heat tape is not necessary, and thus is not installed. However, if you have a north-facing roof, or one that is subject to a lot of shade in the Winter, then we will usually install heat tape if it looks like it’ll be a likely candidate for ice dams.
If we have installed heat tape in one of these areas for you, then likely, there is a switch, either behind your front door or in your garage. Often there are multiple switches, so take inventory of them before you flip one and call it good.
Once you’ve flipped it, you can leave it on all Winter.
But won’t that run up the power bill?
Yes and no.
The heat tape we install has a thermostat on the end. When temperatures are below freezing, it activates. On warmer days, it shuts off. So will there be days when ice doesn’t need clearing and its below freezing, sure, but there are other reasons to leave it running.
Sometimes, heat tape is run in a zig-zag pattern along a roof line. This style of heat tape can be turned on an off manually as needed.
We however have opted for an in-gutter style of installation with the thermostat to control it. This is done so that you can turn it on at the beginning of the season, and leave it on till spring. Frankly, with its thermostat, you could even leave it on year round, since it shouldn’t turn itself on during the Spring/Summer/Fall months.
Leaving this style of heat tape turned on throughout the season helps, because it keeps the ice clear of the gutters as the water drips into it. However, if you wait until the ice has already built up, then the heat tape will only serve to tunnel a hole through the ice and it will not keep the ice buildup from remaining or from growing.
While heat tape and ice dams are always a concern, since the improper mediation of the ice can lead to dangerous walkways below, we need to remember a few other things:
Snow and ice removal from our driveways and sidewalks always becomes an issue during the winter. Often the maintenance crews like to default to throwing more ice-melt on concrete than should ever be used. This creates a much higher chance of the concrete chipping up.
So if you see anyone covering your concrete, unnecessarily, with excess amounts of ice-melt, remind them that it is decreasing the life of your sidewalks, and you might want to sweep some of it off.
Also, remember to park inside your garages, so that snow plows and those clearing your driveways can easily clean the concrete. Snow and ice that builds up on concrete can also cause damage to the concrete if left uncleared, not to mention the safety factor of slipping on a sheet of ice.
So this year, please be safe, and remain good stewards of your communities. Happy holidays!