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Roof and gutter heating cable eliminates ice dams and reduces maintenance on historic building

The Challenge

An historic, architecturally significant four-story brick hotel in Iowa was converted to a senior living apartment facility. The fourth story, enclosed in a distinctive mansard roof, was surrounded on all four sides by a wide 18.5 gutter at floor level. Snow, ice and moisture built up in the gutter during the winter months, creating ice dams which caused damage to the windowsills and carpet in apartments at that level.

The Solution

Nearly 1,600 feet of heat trace cable sometimes called heat tape was run through the gutter system in a straight run, but with a serpentine pattern under each of the 21 windows to eliminate any potential ice dams in these vulnerable areas.  The heat trace cable was also run through the buildings downspouts. The system was controlled by a gutter ice melting controller. A major advantage is the systems energy efficiency it is activated only when moisture and below-freezing temperatures are present. If the system was activated by low temperatures only, the system could be activated by wind-chill, which would result in wasted energy.


  • Building maintenance issues and repair/replacement costs eliminated
  • Turn-key system activates on moisture and temperature readings
  • Energy efficiency

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