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A Guide to Metal Roof Heat Tape for Roof Deicing

Written by Warmup PLC on December 20th, 2022 | Insights

Does your home need metal roof heat tape? The answer is a resounding no if you live in the arid deserts of Arizona or Southern California. However, if you live anywhere that experiences low temperatures, snow, and ice, equipping your metal roof with heat tape should be a serious consideration.

The Importance of Deicing a Metal Roof

Damage to your home and personal injury can result from dangerous ice buildup on your metal roof. Metal roof heat tape can help negate many of the hazards caused by ice buildup.

Home Damage

Ice damming is a phenomenon that occurs when ice builds up in certain areas of your roof. Ice damming prevents proper drainage as snow and ice begin to melt and creates the potential for water to penetrate your roof’s vulnerable eaves and valleys. Water penetration can lead to the following:

  • Mold
  • Rot
  • Structural damage

Ice can also build up in your home’s gutters and downspouts during the winter. As the ice builds, it can become very heavy, and quickly reach weights that gutters and downspouts were not intended to carry. As the ice places increasing strain on your gutters and downspouts, they can reach a breaking point, and separate from your home. 

Using heat tape for metal roofing, downspouts, and gutters can help alleviate ice dams and ensure proper drainage. The price to install heat tape on metal roofing is substantially lower than the cost of repairing your home once the damage has been done.

Safety Concerns

Ice accumulation can not only compromise your roof, it can also endanger the people who live underneath it.


Icicles form underneath the roofline of a house, and can actually be dangerous to people and property

Snow and Ice Sliding Off Your Roof 

If you have a metal roof, you have no doubt heard the loud, sliding noise of snow and ice avalanching off your roof. If you’re inside, or at least out of the way, this can be a novel, almost entertaining occurrence. However, if you or someone else were in the blast zone, it could easily result in serious injury.

Using metal roof heat tape can help eliminate icicle buildup and keep roof drainage from getting backed up, which results in a smaller, less dangerous amount of snow sliding off your roof.

Using Heat Tape to Deice a Metal Roof

Using heat tape or heat cable is the best way to de-ice a metal roof. Using heat tape on a metal roof helps to melt ice and snow, and keeps the frozen masses on your roof smaller and more manageable, if it doesn’t eliminate them altogether.

Is There a Difference Between Heat Tape and Heat Cables?

What is the difference between metal roof heat tape and heat cable for metal roofing? Though the principles of heat tape and heat cables are essentially the same, there are some distinct differences:

Heat Tape

  • Heat tape is highly flexible and can easily be manipulated into different shapes and wrapped around irregular surfaces. 
  • Heat tape comes in predetermined lengths ranging from 2′ to 100′ and cannot be cut to custom sizes.
  • Heat tape can overheat.
  • When wrapping heat tape around pipes, if any segment has both sides exposed to open air, the tape will not transfer heat beyond that point and will overheat and break down.

Heat Cable

  • Heat cable is stiffer than heat tape, but is still pliable and wrappable.
  • You can cut the heating cable to length.
  • Heat cables can self-regulate temperature, which means they will not overheat.
  • You can plug heat cables into any outdoor GFCI-protected outlet.

Heat Tape and Cables Installation

You will need to create a triangular pattern when installing heat cable or heat tape on a metal roof. Your pattern should zig-zag up and down from the roof’s edge to about 6″ into the warm zone. The warm area is the portion of your roof that is above the interior, heated area of your house.

Valleys in your roof are particularly vulnerable to snow and ice buildup, so running your heat tape or cable about 3’-4’ up into those valleys is a good rule of thumb.

How Heat Tape is Controlled After Installation

Unlike heat cable, which is self-regulating, heat tape requires a controller to regulate its temperature. 

Heat cable is self-regulating, and you can simply plug it into any GFCI-protected outdoor outlet. However, if you want your roof de-icing system to operate more efficiently, it can be paired with an automatic thermostat and sensing device.

Cost of Heat Tape

The cost of metal roof heat tape varies significantly depending on length, application, and controller choice.

The price of a product like Warmup’s self-regulating heating cable depends on the size of your project, but it starts at just $79, which is significantly less than the cost of repairing your roof.

Find the Best Heat Cables for Deicing Metal Roofs with Warmup

With over 25 years in the heating industry, Warmup is a name you can trust to keep your roof, gutters, and downspouts snow and ice-free. 

Warmup’s self-regulating heat cables make protecting your home and the people living there easier than ever. Contact Warmup today for a free quote, all you need are a few simple measurements, and you will get your quote within 24 hours. 

Have more questions? Contact Warmup’s friendly customer service department. They have a technical support line open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can always get the help and service you need. 

What are you waiting for? Find out why Warmup is North America’s heated driveway and snow-melting expert!


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