What Are Heated Gutters, and Are They Worth It?

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated June 17, 2022
A suburban home in winter
Photo: Shannon Workman / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Heated gutters don’t actually exist.

  • But the methods to achieve them—heat cables and heated gutter helmets—do.

  • They minimize ice damming and can prevent costly damages.

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The snow’s sticking to the ground, sweater season’s in full swing, the fireplace is roaring…what could possibly take away the winter bliss?

Ice damming. These ice formations on your roof interfere with the normal functioning of your gutters and are a major source of wintertime leaks. But with heated gutters, you can enjoy more of winter with less of them. This guide will discuss what heated gutters are, how they work, and if they’re worth the cost.

What Are Heated Gutters?

So let’s start by clearing something up: Heated gutters, in the literal sense, don’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve heated gutters through other methods such as heat cables and heated gutter helmets. Since that’s settled, we’ll be using the phrase ‘heated gutters’ throughout the rest of this article to refer to regular gutters with heat-generating add-ons.

How Do Heated Gutter Systems Work?

Here’s a look at the two main methods used to achieve heated gutters.

Heat Cable

This product can be installed directly in the gutter. It can also be installed at the roof's eave and hung into the gutter for extra protection. A heat cable helps reduce, not prevent, ice formation.

Heat cables work by melting a portion of the ice formation. This creates a pathway underneath the ice where any pooled water can escape and drain properly off the roof. Some products come with thermostats that let you control the temperature of the heat cables; otherwise, they are set at one constant temperature.

Heated Gutter Helmets

These are often designed to work in tandem with a heat cable. Gutter helmets are installed directly on the cable and act in two ways. One is to prevent debris from getting into your gutters and clogging them throughout the year. (They won’t keep all debris out, but they will help.) The second is during the winter, they heat up in order to keep the temperature in your gutters above freezing, thus helping to prevent a buildup of ice.

Pros of Heated Gutter Systems

Now that you know what heated gutters are, let’s look at how they can benefit you and your home. 

Decrease the Chances of Ice Damming

While there’s no fail-proof way to completely stop ice damming, a heated gutter system can help interfere with ice formation. It can potentially help keep you and your family safe, too, since there’s less of a chance that large icicles will form and later come crashing down around the exterior of your house.

Save You Money

Ice damming is known to cause damage such as: 

  • Leaks inside the home

  • Damage to gutters, including clogging and sagging

Installing heated gutters can potentially save you money on repairs in the long term by preventing these problems before they start.

How Much Do Heated Gutter Systems Cost?

Heated gutter system
Photo: Pascal Huot / Adobe Stock

If heading out in the cold to remove numerous ice dams isn’t on your list of top ten favorite afternoon activities, heated gutter systems are worth it. The cost to install de-icing heat cables is $500 to $1,300, though it largely depends on your location and the size of your home. If you’re more interested in the total package, heated gutter helmets cost $16.50 to $18.50 per foot plus the cost of heat cables. While these figures can help you see how much you should budget for this project, contact your local gutter installation pro for personalized assistance.

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