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Ice Dam Repairs & Prevention Ice Dam Repairs & Prevention

Ice Dam Repairs & Prevention

Around 1992 we began removing ice dams in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs.  Shortly thereafter it made sense to create a new company that was dedicated to ice dam removal, ice dam repairs and ice dam prevention.  That company is called The Ice Dam Company (we know, very creative, right?).  Boring though the name may be, The Ice Dam Company quickly became a national leader in ice dam removal and prevention. Steve Kuhl has taught hundreds of home inspectors about ice dams through his seminar “Ice Dams 101”.  In 2011, he was published in the Journal of Light Construction, a leading national construction magazine (much to the delight of his mother).  He has been featured dozens of times in local and national media including all major news outlets and multiple times in the Star Tribune.  All of this is to say that Steve really knows a lot about ice dams, repairing the damage done by ice dams and the prevention of ice dams.  Visit The Ice Dam Company for deeper information on this branch of services. Click her to see 9 Common Types of Ice Dam Damage In Minneapolis.

Summary of Ice Dam Related Services we offer:

Ice Dam Removal

We use steam to remove ice dams.  Any other method is tremendously risky to your roof.  Hammers, axes, picks and torches are cheaper methods of ice dam removal.  In the short run.   More here…

Ice Dam Repairs

The damage done by ice dams is pretty intuitive to diagnose with a few tools and some experience.  We use sophisticated wall scanners and crazy thermal imagers to see what is going on behind, above and beneath the finishes in your home.  We work with your insurance company if appropriate to establish the scope of your claim.  Then we professionally address all of the things in need of replacement or repair.  If necessary, we draw on the horsepower of Kuhl Design + Build for resources.

Ice Dam Prevention

We frequently use our construction experience to help our clients avoid ice dams.  Here is Kuhl Case Study #21 on one approach to ice dam prevention in Minneapolis.  Proactive efforts are almost always cheaper than reactive efforts in the long run. That said, it is sometimes advisable to install heat cables for the prevention of ice dams. The Ice Dam Company is one of the largest online retailers in the country of heat cables for the prevention of ice dams.

Because ice dams are the result of the interaction of heat and your roof, the first step is to conduct a study of the thermal characteristics of your home.  That can be done using infrared imaging, blower door tests and some old-fashioned knowhow.  Our ice dam prevention services range from re-roofing, insulation, ventilation and, of course, the installation of commercial heat cable systems.

Heat Cables for Ice Dam Prevention

It’s safe to say that Kuhl’s Contracting as installed more heat cable (i.e., Heat Tape) on residential, commercial and industrial properties in Minnesota than any other company. We are frequently used as sub-contractors for the most well-respected builders and developers in the greater Twin Cities area. Why? Because we have the most well-triangulated understanding of ice dam causation and prevention strategies. Through our sister company, The Ice Dam Company we have traveled the United States removing ice dams and preventing ice dams, addressing projects of varying complexity and scope. Because we compete against companies whose primary business is not in the field of construction and ice dam prevention, we suggest asking these questions when collecting estimates for your ice dam prevention project:

Why Hire Kuhl for your heat tape installation project

Here are a few things that set KUHL apart from the competition:

35 Years Experience. Kuhl’s Contracting is one of the most well respected, veteran exteriors companies in the Twin Cities. Founded by Steve Kuhl in 1987, we are a tight group of professionals dedicated to the art of keeping people happy through our quality work, whether that be roofing, gutters, masonry or heat cable. We have lots of skin in the game.

10 Year warranty. That’s right. KUHL uses the most innovative, high-quality heat cable system in North America. Heat Tape Pro™ is a premium, heavy-duty self-regulating heat cable surrounded by an ecosystem of the most innovative, roof-safe installation accessories in the world. Ask our competitors about the system they are installing. If they don’t brag about let alone provide exhaustive details about it, you may want to think twice.

1 Company to Call. We know what we are doing on work you really, really need to be reliable. We have installed more heat cable systems than any contractor in Minnesota for a reason. Check out our online reviews. Your friends and neighbors are saying nice things.

Here is a downloadable PDF outlining why we’re your guys for your heat tape installation project:

Heat Tape by KUHL

Seven Questions to Ask Your Heat Cable Installation Contractor

  1. Cable: What heat cable system are you installing? Avoid constant wattage brands including EasyHeat, FrostKing, Wrap-On or any cheap products bought online. Only install a long-lasting, self-regulating heat cable. Always ask for the technical documents relating to the heat cable being proposed.
  2. Warranty: How long is the manufacturers warranty on the cable you are installing? Constant wattage heat cable systems are warrantied for a maximum of only 1-2 years. Heat Tape Pro™ carries a 10 Year warranty. Ask for the warranty information in writing.
  3. Safety: Is your cable safe to install on my home? Constant wattage heat cables are not UL approved for installation on flat roofs, rubber roofs,  wood, metal or any material other than sloped asphalt shingles. Ask your installer to see the cable manufacturers installation manual before work begins.
  4. Experience: What is your primary line of business? Are you a licensed contractor? How many heat cable systems have you installed? Are you experienced in all types of roofing, flashing and gutter systems? Can you provide proof of insurance?
  5. Maintenance: Do I have to remove leaves from around my heat cable? Constant wattage heat cables are not supposed to have prolonged contact with leaves or other combustibles. To avoid risk of fire, combustibles must be cleared away from the cable on a frequent basis. Read their manual.
  6. Repairable: Can my system be repaired if it is damaged? Constant wattage heat cables CAN NOT be repaired under any circumstance. The cable must be thrown away if even slight damage occurs (Squirrels!). Heat Tape Pro™ is a heavy-duty self-regulating heat cable that is simple and affordable to repair.
  7. Roof-Safe: Will the accessories used for my heat cable installation threaten my roof warranty? If you have an asphalt shingle roof, membrane roof, metal roof, synthetic roof or wood roof, make sure you understand the heat cable accessories being specified for your project because roof manufacturers warranties can be affected by the use of improper devices.

Below is a downloadable PDF of the Seven Questions to Ask Your Heat Tape Installation Contractor:

7 Questions to Ask Heat Cable Contractors 7-29-22

The Best Heat Tape for Ice Dam Prevention

We have used a variety of heat cable (i.e., ‘Heat Tape’) over the past 25 years including Raychem, NuHeat, Drexan and BriskHeat. Note, those are all manufacturers of self-regulating heat cable. No serious contractor installs the products commonly available at big box stores known as constant wattage heat cable. Commonly sold under the brand names of Frost King, Easy Heat and Wrap-On, these products are cheaply made with warranties not much longer than fresh produce.

We are proud to install the Heat Tape Pro™ Ice Dam Prevention System, made by Radiant Solutions Company. This is the most innovative, reliable and long-lasting self-regulating heat cable available in North America today.

Many professional contractors and handymen still install cheap cable because they either do not understand the difference or prefer simple, DYI-friendly products (we’re talking about you Easy Heat). Here are some differences between the two major varieties of ice dam prevention heat cable available in the North American market today (i.e., Self-Regulating versus Constant Wattage):

Self-Regulating Heat Tape 

  1. Visual Comparison:
    • Color: Black or dark grey, Dimensions: 1/4”x 1/2” , Shape – Rectangular
  2. Warranty:
    • 10 Year Warranty
  3. Energy Useage:
    • Self-regulates by using less energy when it’s warmer outside and more when it’s colder. Smart cable. 
  4. Maintenance:
    • Requires no maintenance annually to operate safely.
  5. Versatility:
    • Approved for use on ALL roof materials and slopes including asphalt shingles, wood roofs, flat roofs, rubber roofs, metal roofs, synthetic roofs, slate roofs and more.
  6. Safety:
    • Can overlap itself and touch ANY material in or on your home including metal, wood, rubber, leaves, etc..
  7. Effective:
    • Works to create melted pathways in snow and ice down to -20ºF. 
  8. Major Brands:

Constant Wattage Heat Tape 

  1. Visual Comparison:
    • Color: Black or dark grey, Dimensions: 1/4”x 1/4” , Shape – Round
  2. Warranty:
    • 2 Year Warranty
  3. Energy Useage:
    • Consumes the same amount of energy regardless of outdoor temperatures. Dumb cable. 
  4. Maintenance:
    • Owners must removal combustibles (leaves, pine needles, etc.) from around cable to operate safely. See Manual.
  5. Versatility:
    • Approved for use on ONLY sloped, asphalt shingle roofs. Should NEVER be used on any other type or roof.
  6. Safety:
    • May short, burn out or start on fire if it comes into contact with itself or metal, rubber, wood, or any organic matter such as leaves. See Manual.
  7. Effective:
    • Not effective under 15ºF and may exacerbate ice dam issues. See Manual.
  8. Major Brands:
    • EasyHeat, Frost King, Wrap-On, Heat-It, Prime Wire

Here is a downloadable comparison of Ice Dam Prevention Heat Cable types:

Self regulating heat tape vs Constant Wattage heat tape

Six Ice Dam Warning Signs

Ice dams usually give us a few warning signs before they cause problems on Minneapolis homes. Here is a illustrated guide we created to help you identify the common signs of ice dams in Minneapolis.  Six Ice Dam Warning Signs.

Tips on Where Ice Dams Happen

Ice dams happen for specific reasons with every home having a different set of circumstances that contributes to the problem.  And yet after having removed literally thousands of ice dams here in the Twin Cities, we have noticed clear similarities, or patterns, in where ice dams are most likely to form on Minneapolis and St. Paul homes.  Check out this notated illustration on Nine Common Ice Dam Locations created by Steve Kuhl for The Ice Dam Company.

In addition to The Ice Dam Company, Kuhl’s Contracting also recommends The Heat Cable Store, as another place to find quality self-regulating heat cable for managing ice dams and ice dam prevention. The Heat Cable Store sells a few other brands of heat tape and deicing cables. The Heat Cable Store has a large variety of ice dam heat cable sensors, control systems and thermostats.

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