Winter safety with regulated heat tracing

Pentair - winter safety
Icicles hanging from gutters can be dangerous to pedestrians walking below if they loosen and come crashing down. Photos courtesy Pentair

By Pele Myers
Changing weather patterns have resulted in unpredictable weather from year to year. In Canada, severe snowfall and sub-zero temperatures are reminiscent of the 2013/2014 winter—one of the longest the country has experienced in recent years. For many, these extreme conditions can cause property damage and potentially endanger lives. As unusual weather seemingly becomes more prevalent, home and commercial building owners and contractors need to take protective, preventative measures to winter-proof properties and ensure they are safe for occupants.

What can be done to help ensure buildings are safe from winter’s harm? A cost-effective and environmentally conscious way to defend buildings from the damaging effects of winter is the installation of reliable, high-quality, self-regulating heating cables.

Self-regulating technology employs two parallel conductors embedded in a conductive polymer heating core. Unlike constant wattage series heaters and zone heating cables that produce the same amount of energy all the time, these systems only emit heat when and where it is needed. They do this by reacting to the ambient temperature, reducing output when it is warm and increasing it when it is cold. As a result, these cables will not overheat, thus saving energy. Self-regulating heating cables are inexpensive to install and operate, and require little to no maintenance. This reliable solution brings winter safety into every building project.

Pipes
There is nothing worse than being without water—especially in winter. Extremely low ambient temperatures can cause liquid in water pipes to freeze and swell, resulting in the bursting of the pipe. The aftermath includes costly repairs and the inconvenience of being without water. Self-regulating heating systems offer a simple solution to keep pipes from freezing. The flexible heating cable is attached to the pipe, preventing ice from forming within, and thus avoiding burst pipes and water damage. These innovative cables are easy to install and maintain. The heating cable is cut to length at the job site and attached to the pipe with glass tape. A power connection kit connects the heating cable bus wires to power in a junction box while tees and splices accommodate pipe branches to connect two or three heating cables together.

Roofs and gutters
Heavy snow can damage roofs, gutters, and downspouts, while repeated freezing and thawing can destroy roof coverings and façades of buildings. Heavy icicles can form, fall, and injure pedestrians, while standing water can leak through interior walls and damage possessions. Self-regulating heating systems can help prevent these problems by stopping the buildup of ice and snow on roofs and in gutters and downspouts. The energy-efficient system can be applied to all materials including wood, plastic, asphalt, and metal for both roofs and gutters.

A well designed heat-tracing system should include a controller measuring temperature and moisture, so the system is only on when it needs to be.

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