Terra-cotta roof, copper gutters - ice dam prevention ideas?

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Terra-cotta roof, copper gutters - ice dam prevention ideas?

Post by shmerls1 »

Hi. We bought a 1932 home last year (NY) and are learning TONS about older home care. Our trade-cotta roof and hot/cold winters are creating ice dams as the temp rises for a day or few, and freezes When the temp drops before all melting has had time.

The house is kind of large with multiple roof sections. Some very steep so the snow usually slides to the ground. Others not so steep where we're learning are the ice dam vulnerable sections.


The food is terra-cotta so snow brakes are not as plentiful or easy as for tile roofs. We could run gutter heat wire/tape that are sold everywhere, but had two ideas I'd love your thoughts.

1. Attic heaters. I realize hotter than freezing roofs are not typically desired because the snow can melt, overwhelm your gutters and cause more ice damming than a slower melt.

our attic has been finished and they builders created several attic storage rooms, some of which are where the roof problems are the most. In the 2 such areas, what if we heated these rooms which go direct to the roof above so the snow never has a chance to accumulate, melts on impact, draining onto the gutters? I understand that the key problem is not the roof per say, but the gutters will always be outside temp, uneffeced by heat rising to the roof. But since we're in NY and not in a super cold region, would a constant t flow of slightly warmed snow melt not have time to freeze in the gutters and make it to the down spouts in time? I realize the gamble here is: if the temp really drops during a snow fall. But we haven't seen super low temperatures in years.

We could place electric gutter ice melters as back up for a super temp snap.

2. Our gutters are gorgeous old time copper. I'm wondering if it's scientifically possible to heat sections of our gutters so it's impossible for snow melt to freeze? Are such products even available or a total DIY? Or would th electric cost be astronomical? And better to just lay the wire from a store bought ice dam kit instead?


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