An Ice Dam work around

Sometimes it’s just not realistic to expect that you’ll be able to ventilate your attic space or your roof decking — especially if you have an area in the upstairs of your home with slanted ceilings.  Chances are that there are no vent chutes in the cavity between your roof decking and your drywall.  More often than not, those areas are jam-packed with insulation.

So what do you do?

You have two choices.

The more expensive option is to rip all your drywall out, remove the insulation, install baffled vent chutes from the soffit up to above the insulation in the attic, re-insulate over the new chutes, drywall, sparkle and paint.

For most people, that’s not going to happen.

You could instead choose to put a heater cable inside of your gutters and zig-zag the cable along the bottom 2 feet of roof, assuring that water will not freeze in those areas.  If you do that, you should also have some cable in the gutter itself as well as hanging down into the downspout.

If you choose this second option you will want to visualize how one piece of cable (think extension cord) can be zig-zagged to do all of this and still have enough cord to fill the gutter and loop down into the downspout.

These cords are a relatively cheap option but keep in mind that you’ll still be heating a cable outside for the entire winter so effectively you are running a low voltage heater to keep the gutters and lower roof warm all winter long.

If you do this, be sure to get a professional electrician to install a GFI outlet outside near where you will be plugging the cable in.   Be sure that the cable hangs down after being plugged in so that drips of water don’t go into your electrical box.

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