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Andy Wojtowski

Podcast: Heat cables with Steve Kuhl

We have a special guest on this episode, Steve Kuhl. Steve owns a bunch of companies, but for this podcast, he’s representing his heat cable company, Radiant Solutions Company.

What we didn’t know about heat cables before talking with Steve could fill a warehouse. This man knows more about heat cables than anyone we’ve ever talked to. To top it all off, he’s entertaining to listen to. We need to have Steve on as a guest more often. We talked about including some pictures of the different products after doing this podcast, but we’re actually going to a lot more than that. This podcast episode will turn into a three-part guest blog series by Steve Kuhl. This podcast sets the stage for that.

TRANSCRIPTION

The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Steve Kuhl: And people often ask me, “What kind of damage can ice dams really do?” What is an ice dam? It’s when the ice builds up in your gutter, the snow and ice on your house is melting because the heat is escaping from your house and it forms a puddle behind the ice dam and that puddle is gonna infiltrate your roof and leak into your house.

[music]

Bill Oelrich: Welcome everybody to Structure Talk, brought to you by Structure Tech. I’m your host Bill Oelrich alongside my loyal host Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. And, today we have a special guest alongside of us Steve Kuhl from Kuhl Construction, right here in Minneapolis. On today’s episode we’re gonna talk about strategies for removing ice dams. Not allowing them to even form on your house.

[music]

BO: And, this is a topic we’ve covered in the past but we’re gonna go a little deeper on some of the more specialty cases. So, Reuben jump in here and tell us, “What’s the problem with ice dams and when do we see them most regularly?”

Reuben Saltzman: Well, we see ice dams when you get a ton of snow. And, the problem with them is that sometimes it’s really expensive to fix them. We did a podcast not too long ago, where we talked about how professionals will fix ice dams the right way, but we never really dug too much into how you can deal with ice dams, if that’s just not in the cards for you to tear your roof off and redo it or gut the inside of your home and redo it that way. If you’ve got a one-a-half-story, two-and-a-half-story home, you’ve got a vaulted ceiling, cathedral ceiling, sometimes people will call it. You got any of these situations, they can be really tough to deal with ice dams. And that’s where Steve Kuhl, and the ice dam company comes in. You introduced him as Kuhl Construction, but Steve, you’ve got like what? Like 17 businesses you own now?

SK: Just four.

RS: Just four, okay.

SK: But I’m done.

BO: My apologies for…

SK: Yeah. [laughter]

RS: He’s a serial entrepreneur.

SK: Yes, I am. But I have cut it off. And, I have children. So I’m growing those instead of companies.

BO: Gotcha. Wow.

RS: Smart, smart, you got your priorities.

SK: Yes. I do.

RS: You got back to the companies in about what? 16 years or so?

SK: In 1987 when I was 17, I started Kuhl’s Contracting.

RS: Okay.

SK: When I was in…

RS: You started Kuhl’s Contracting in 1987.

SK: ’87, yeah. Then Kuhl Design + Build in 1999, the Ice Dam Company in ‘2003, and then most recently Radiant Solutions Company which is the manufacturer of self-regulating heat cable in 2015.

RS: Wow.

SK: I’m exhausted just saying it.

Tessa Murry: And that’s Kuhl spelled, not C-O-O-L.

SK: No, I aspire to that but it’s K-U-H-L which is the German spelling.

BO: Alright, so when and why can’t you just normally attack these things? You said Reuben two-and-a-half stories or something. A lot of times we just recommend that people scrape the snow off their roof and go have a great afternoon or something else. But, you’re talking about tearing into material and insulating and all those kinds of things. Or what are we doing here?

RS: Well, yeah. And, those houses would… It’s really expensive to fix and you can’t tear into all this stuff without spending a ridiculous amount of money. A lot of times, people will hire us to go out and do single item inspections, figure out, “Why do I have, ice dams?” I’ve already hired somebody to re-insulate my attic. I still have issues, or there’s no way to get at it, and sometimes we’ll come out and we’ll say, “Look, your best option is probably to do heat cables.” And when we’re recommending that, it’s nice to have somebody good to put them on, ’cause if you just go to the store and you get the $60 box of heat cable and you throw it up yourself on a weekend, it’s not gonna be the same that you’re gonna get from a professional. And I thought there’s a ton of information that I have learned from Steve over the past… I don’t know, how long we’ve been working together? Steve, it’s been…

SK: Fifteen?

RS: Long time.

SK: Yeah.

RS: Yeah. And I’ve learned so much from Steve over the years, and I’ve been encouraging Steve to do a blog, do this, do that. He’s like, “Yeah you’re right, I should.”

SK: Yeah. I’m too busy though growing businesses, I guess.

[chuckle]

RS: Exactly, exactly.

TM: And kids.

SK: And kids.

RS: But you need to get the message out to the public, Steve.

SK: Yeah.

RS: You need to tell us all about this.

SK: Well, I’ve got… I’ve got a lot to say.

RS: Alright.

SK: I’ve got a lot to say.

RS: Alright. Get started, man.

SK: Yeah, I’ll start by saying that my career has been shaped in large part around the topic of ice dams, either directly or indirectly though my growth of the construction businesses and my exteriors company. So, we do a ton of roofing through Kuhl’s Contracting and remodeling through Kuhl Design + Build. And then in 2003, I got this idea to start the country’s first dedicated ice dam removal business, and that’s called the Ice Dam Company. And then after that, of course, the industry blossomed. And, now there’s hundreds of them, and a lot of them do a good job and some of them don’t, and we all know about that.

But, as to the question of heat cable and its effectiveness, I think we could all agree that it’s not the best answer, and it’s not the first answer. And I tell this to our clients all the time, even as a guy who owns a company who actually manufactures the heat cable. I tell people, “It’s not your first answer. Your first answer is architectural modifications.” Which we all have talked about and you are all experts in that which include air ceiling, insulation and ventilation. A couple of things that I would add or that there are certain homes where solar orientation plays a pretty significant role where one roof pitch actually gets hit by UV and that melt water, runs down to a shaded roof pitch and re-freezes into an ice dam and that can cause big problems. We could get into the value of investing in good heat cable versus bad. And what those things look like, how you identify one from the other, if you’d like to do that now.

BO: Well, let’s just back up if it’s okay, Steve. Talk about what the heat cable does? ‘Cause, there’s so many misconceptions about this. I have people say, “Well I tried heat cable but I still saw ice forming. I think people have the whole wrong idea about why even put the heat cable up and what it’s job is?

SK: Yeah, so what a heat cable is not meant to do is to keep all of the snow and ice off of your eaves. That is a myth, nor would you wanna pay the cost for such a project because in our climate, that would cost thousands of dollars in electricity every winter.

RS: That was the question I had. Like how do these things affect your electric bill?

SK: Yeah, and we’ll touch on that in a little bit. So the point of heat cable when it’s operated properly is to create melted pathways that water uses to escape off of a roof. And so, you will see if you go to our website or any one of the websites, you’ll see pictures of heat cable operating on roofs with snow on them and it just looks like there’s a zig-zag pattern, a melted pathway through the snow and that is a good cable system. So, the idea is not to keep ice and snow off of the roof. The idea is to create melted pathways for the escape of water. Does that makes sense?

RS: Yeah. Makes perfect sense. And, what’s your website by the way? I’ll put it on the link for this podcast, but what is it?

SK: Radiantsolutionscompany.com is the company. That’s the manufacturer’s website, that is my website for the manufacturing company. And then there’s the ice dam company which has operated as an installation division for many, many years, we’ve installed miles of this cable, which is how I sort of got into the business originally.

BO: Okay. So you had mentioned you’re the manufacturer of this cable as well?

SK: Yes.

BO: So we said we’re gonna talk about the building science, but we decided to table that conversation we feel like we’ve kind of beaten this death. You’ve got warm air leaking out of your house, it’s melting snow and it’s causing a problem. So Tessa, you and I were talking before we started and you’ve been running into a lot of these cables lately on the roof and they’re frayed out, and they look like they’re probably not working. And I know you had some questions for Steve, so What was your mind?

TM: Yeah. I was just wondering, Steve why do these heat cables get such a bad rap? Are they dangerous? Do they damage your roof do they damage the shingles? I mean.

SK: The answer is yes, which might surprise you but here is something that nobody really talks about, is that 90% of the cables bought and installed in America are cheap constant wattage heat cable. Constant wattage, what does that mean? Well, they can be identified most easily by the brand names that they’re sold under which are EasyHeat, Frost King, Wrap On. If you go to Menards, do you go to Home Depot to Lowes, any big box retailer, and most even small hardware stores they’re gonna sell this stuff called constant wattage, and the principle behind that cable is that it operates like a synapse in your brain, it’s 100% on or off. It also is the fact that it is very cheaply made, and it has many, many issues that cause the underlying problems that people complain about.

TM: What’s the average life span of a cable like that, constant wattage.

SK: One year.

TM: Really?

SK: One year. We rip out miles and miles of constant wattage, and this is why heat cable has a bad reputation, is that people want to buy the cheap stuff and install the cheap stuff.

RS: What’s cheap? Because when they put it on my house when they re-roofed it several years ago, it was like $2,000 worth, which didn’t feel cheap. But kind of guessing. And you’re gonna tell me they put cheap stuff.

SK: I don’t know you can… Visually it looks like co-axial, which is to say it about…

RS: That’s technically what it looks like.

SK: So it’s about a quarter inch in diameter, it’s usually black and that is constant wattage cable.

TM: So does your cabling look different than that?

SK: It is, it is about a quarter and inch thick by half an inch wide and I’ve got samples on the floor which you won’t be able to see on the podcast.

TM: We can put a link in the show notes.

RS: So it’s like Romex.

TM: It does have the dimensions of Romex but it’s black, and it’s… The Fundamentals of its construction are completely different than constant wattage.

RS: So, what separates it?

SK: I’ll tell you about some of the limitations of constant wattage cable and this is gonna blow your mind. And the only reason that anybody ever buys this product is that it’s cheap and because they don’t know about it, they haven’t read the manuals. So number one, constant wattage cable cannot be installed on wood roofs, on rubber roofs metal roofs or any roofing material besides asphalt nor can it be installed in flat roots. And people try to do this all the time. So that’s a pretty big limitation.

RS: People are breaking the rules out there.

SK: People are breaking the rules.

BO: Oh my goodness yes.

TM: Why not on… Why not?

RS: Yeah, why not metal.

SK: It poses a fire hazard, all you need to do is look in their manual. Fire.

TM: On metal?

SK: Yes, unless you pay to have an electrician electrically ground all of the metal on your house such as your gutters your gutter guards…

TM: I guess if it gets frayed, or something, you don’t wanna…

RS: Short it out with the metal and…

TM: Yeah.

SK: Well, constant wattage is… Maybe it’s main limitation is that it’s not supposed to overlap itself and all of you having seen many, many of these systems over the years probably can attest to the fact that a lot of times these systems end up looking like spaghetti and the cables are all over themselves, they’re just in big pile or they’re twisted, that automatically disqualifies the cable from any warranty coverage number one, and it shorts the cable out. So any installation of constant wattage cable that has a single overlap is likely to fail whereas self-regulating heat cable, which is the other main I’d say branch of the heat cable family. And this is what we manufacture, can overlap itself as much as you want, you could wrap your baby in it. It’s never gonna overheat it’s never gonna burn, it’s never gonna short out, it doesn’t matter what it touches, it can be used on any surface whatsoever.

TM: So what’s the average life span of your regulated wattage.

SK: Self-regulating heat cable, our carries a five-year warranty, you can expect at least 10 years of reliable service out of it. It’s a commercial product, it’s a eat when you feel it, you can tell the difference.

TM: And then in terms of price difference?

SK: It’s quite a bit more expensive, at least on the front end until you start to talk about energy consumption and some of these other variables. So, I think 100 feet of EasyHeat might cost $90 and 100 feet of self-regulating cable might cost $300. So you might think it’s three times more expensive.

TM: But the difference is, you’re installing these once every 10 years versus once every year, is what you should be doing.

SK: Year or two, so that’s one cost difference, but really the main one is that if you think about what it costs to have a false sense of security I’m all protected and next thing you know, you’ve got water leaking in through your cavities, buckling the floor, wrecking the cabinets and doing all the other things that we are familiar with, that gets into the… Can be upwards into 10s of thousand of dollars of damage, all based on the fact that you thought we were protected from this constant wattage cheap cable.

RS: Do insurance companies cover that sort of damage?

SK: Most insurance companies cover the damage as the result of the ice dams.

RS: Okay, but not the ice dams themselves.

SK: Some will remove or pay for the removal of ice dams, but it’s not that common.

RS: One other costs that we’re maybe not considering here too is… What about the cost of the electricity? Don’t those constant wattage cables use a lot more of electricity too?

TM: That’s a great question, I was gonna…

SK: Yes. We know that in this environment in the Minneapolis area that it’s not uncommon to have temperature fluctuate between zero degrees and 40 degrees in December, January, February. We see these fluctuations happen all the time, constant wattage cable is gonna burn at 100% hot the entire time. Self-regulating cable, and this is where the technology is pretty cool, not to geek out too deeply on it, but the basic concept…

TM: Please do.

BO: Well here, here Steve save that thought.

SK: Okay.

BO: So Steve, before we went to the break, you were just about to dive into the techno world of heat cables. So tell us the difference, tell us the magic that happens in these premium cables that you’re installing.

SK: The magic. Okay, you’ve set the bar high. This is pretty boring topic for some people, but for me it’s exciting. The way that self-regulating heat cable works is that it responds dynamically along its entire length to ambient temperatures. And, so what does that mean? What it means, is that if I had a section of our cable and I had… Part of it in my hand and part of it in an ice water bath, the part in the ice water, it could be three inches away and it’ll be way hotter than the part in my hand. And so we ask, “Well, how does that work?” It’s just, it’s cable, you look at it and it looks like essentially a dumb system, right? It’s just a piece of cable. Well, the idea is that there are two main conductors in the cable which are 16 gauge wires that are embedded in a carbon-infused core. And to the layman, just looks like a piece of black plastic but the carbon-infused core operates in a very simple way, an ingenious way which is that when there are ambient temperatures that are colder outside that conductive core contracts microscopically. And, it draws those conductors slightly closer together, when those two conductors are drawn closer together, there are more electrical pathways created through the carbon in that body or that matrix.

BO: I wish everybody could see the hand signals that are going on…

[laughter]

SK: Yes, the hands are so important to this. You can see the visualization, the cables are drawn together. And, there’s more conductive pathways, which generates more heat and the inverse applies when it’s a warmer outside, which is one of the reasons I love this cable, is that it’s not cranking at 100% all the time. When we have 40 degrees out, it’s generating a lot less heat and consuming a lot less energy.

TM: That’s brilliant.

BO: Where did this technology come from?

SK: The original developer to the best of my knowledge, was a company called Raychem and they still exist. They’re kind of the 800 pound gorilla in the heat cable industry, in the self-regulating cable industry.

RS: You used to install those, right?

SK: I used to install those.

RS: Okay.

SK: And hence is the origin of my company, because I discovered… I quickly came upon the idea that, “I know that the companies I am buying from are not necessarily making this stuff and I’m gonna find out who is making this stuff.” And I did. And then I did some re-engineering, and we made the product better, and now we use a factory that makes for a couple other… The very big sellers, but our cables are quite a bit more affordable, because we don’t have intergalactic business network to support in terms of overhead.

BO: Where’s the manufacturing happening?

SK: China.

BO: Okay. And so, you’ve redeveloped cables, you’ve redeveloped clips. We’ve got some clips here on the table that are revolutionizing how this installation is happening.

SK: Yes.

BO: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

SK: Yeah, so this comes from my background as a roofing contractor, in having seen hundreds of installations with traditional nail-on-roof clips that require, as you guessed it, nails to be driven through the roof system in order to support the cable and hang the cable. And it just, it never really felt right to me and so I developed something called the grip clip about, I guess it was four years ago, which relies on a nail-free system and you could think of it as toothy pincer that basically slides up onto the shingle and provides the holding power that we need to keep the cable systems in place. And, each one of those clips holds 40 pounds according to our latest testing, which is far beyond the requirements of any heat cable system.

RS: Wow. So now let me ask you, what about… If somebody… You’re local here, you’re based out of Hopkins. You do a lot of these installations, you’ve got the heat cable manufacturing company then you’ve got the ice dam company. And that’s the company who does the actual installation of it. If somebody in a different part of the country wants to get your product, how can they do that?

SK: Yeah. Well, we have a number of different e-commerce websites that all kinda drained into the same retail backend.

RS: Okay.

SK: It’s a smart way of doing business. Our biggest selling channel is Amazon and we’re the largest seller of this product in North America, on Amazon.

RS: Wow.

SK: So that’s not a bad deal. And so people all over the country, a lot of contractors buy it through Amazon, and we have direct relationships with lots of contractors. And, right now we’re building out a certified installer network around the country. So that we’re gonna have an index on our website that people can click on to find installers that know what they’re doing inside their territory.

BO: Is this something that a homeowner could do on their own?

SK: Absolutely.

TM: Do you sell the clips too?

SK: Yes, especially with the grip clip. We’re making a video right now to show people, how to install these but it makes the installation, it cuts the installation time down by probably an eighth. These things install in three seconds. And if you don’t like the placement, you can peel them off and re-install them with your hands.

TM: It doesn’t damage the shingle?

SK: It does not damage the shingles, and there are no tools required.

TM: Wow.

SK: I know, it’s a crazy. [chuckle]

RS: Now, what about electrical requirements?

SK: So most of our cables are sold… This is a pre-established plug-in kit. What you can see here lying on the desk. So, it’s what we call a plug-and-go system, we also sell systems off of this pool, mostly to contractors. In the case of the heat tape pro, pre-assembled kits, we can run up to 150 feet off a traditional outlet, 15-amp outlet residential.

RS: Okay, I assume this has to be plugged directly into an outlet, no extension cords?

SK: No extension cords.

RS: And, does this need to be a GFCI protected outlet?

SK: It needs to be… We recommend a GFCI protected, either the outlet itself or the circuit.

RS: Okay.

TM: You had to get that in there Reuben, right? A little safety tip.

RS: Just wanna make sure, wanna make sure.

[laughter]

SK: Home inspector has spoken, GFCI.

RS: Bill is rolling his eyes.

[laughter]

BO: Here’s my question, Steve. I’ve got a simple little house in the city, which is the next thing I was gonna mention is, do you do any work in the suburbs? I mean… Oh you do, okay. He’s shaking his head. Okay. Okay.

SK: Yeah. Our service area is the Greater Twin Cities area.

BO: Okay, but I imagine your epicenter of work is right inside the city limits of Minneapolis in and St. Paul.

SK: Yes.

BO: Okay. That’s where I am. Beautiful urban core. Thank you.

RS: Zip it.

BO: Yeah.

TM: Lots of issues with ice dams.

BO: I don’t have them any more after some spray foam but sounds like I probably need to redo these ’cause they’ve been out there for about seven years now. So, 28 x 32 house, simple roof line. I don’t have a lot of stuff going on, so I’ve got them weaving up and down on my north side and just in the gutters on my south side. So, what does a person like me expect to pay?

SK: Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer. What we’ve developed is something called the heat cable calculator. We actually own the URL, so if you visit www.heatcablecalculator.com, it’ll direct you to a simple online calculator which allows you to put in just a few bits of data, including the eave length that you want to protect, the depth of the soffit or overhang, which is critically important and I’ll talk about that in a second, if you have gutters, and if you have a valley that’s affected.

BO: Okay, so for everybody who didn’t maybe catch that eave length was what you had said, which is the overhang. How far does your roof stick out beyond your exterior wall.

SK: That’s the eave depth.

BO: Oh, gotcha.

SK: Eave length might be, if you have a gutter, how long is that gutter. That’s the length of the eave.

BO: Oh sure. Sure, sure, sure. Right.

SK: What the calculator does is a little bit of basic geometry to automatically calculate how many feet you need and then there’s a section in there, a cell where you can enter special circumstances such as I have 10 feet from the bottom of my down spout and to the outlet, and then that’ll tell you the parts and pieces you need including downspout hangers, which we could talk about, the number of clips you need, and the specific cable length you need.

BO: Okay, so is the material the most expensive part of this, or is the installation the most expensive part of this?

SK: The installation.

BO: It is? Oh.

SK: Yeah, which gets back to the importance of buying good stuff, ’cause if you’re gonna pay to have somebody up on a ladder on your roof, doing this stuff, you may as well put something in that’s gonna last quite a while.

BO: Sure, makes perfect sense.

RS: What do you think a price range would be just for the materials? Let’s say it’s a do-it-yourselfer who wants to order up the system on a house that they’ll describe, but can you just give us like a range, like one to 5,000, or something like that?

SK: Yeah. No, it’s usually $400 to $600 for an average house just in the materials.

RS: Very helpful, yeah.

BO: Yeah.

RS: Okay.

SK: Yeah, and our installations are gonna be $1,200 to $2,000 and that just depends on the variables that we’ve described here.

RS: Some of the, just the headache and the emotion that this causes people, that’s nothing. I mean so many people would be so glad to pay that to say, “Look, you’re not gonna have any leaks from ice dams, any problem for the next five years, or whatever it is that these things are gonna last.” It seems like just a no brainer.

SK: Yeah, it is a no-brainer. If you can’t afford to do the architectural modifications that we all know are a good idea. So that’s one situation where heat cable’s are great idea. Another might be where people in the case of story-and-a-half homes that you’ve discussed previously where there’s almost no way to prevent ice dams on those homes. Well, what’s the other answer? You either need to be diligent about roof raking, which is not terribly realistic for everybody or you need to install something like heat cable.

TM: And if you install the heat cable on your house, there’s very specific times you need to turn it on and turn it off and all of that, right? Can you talk about how to actually operate these properly?

SK: Yeah, so there’s a couple. Being that it self-regulating, it is gonna adjust itself to ambient temperatures and have some efficiency there but a level above that which… And this is an ingenious little plastic device called the Thermo Cube developed by a chicken farmer, who many years ago, wanted to figure out a way to turn on light bulbs in his little coops automatically to warm the chickens, or whatever they do, and he developed this thing and they sell on Amazon for $12 and the idea is simple, which is, you plug that into your exterior outlet and you plug your cable into that, and at 35 degrees it just turns on, at 50 degrees, it turns off. So, at a certain point, it’s not gonna be running inefficiently.

TM: Interesting.

SK: Yeah.

TM: Wow. So, you don’t actually have to do it yourself. You can just buy this device, plug it in.

SK: You can do that or you can invest in more sophisticated controls, which we do sell but those usually range, $700, $1,200 worth and those are thermostatic controls that also sends moisture, which is important.

RS: I’ll get the Thermo Cube for $12.

[laughter]

SK: Yeah, yeah, and a switched outlet, a lot of people will install a switched outlet that has a LED in it. You just know what’s on. Although something that’s cool about our cable is that it’s got an LED plug, a clear LED plug, so you can always look at it and know that it’s energized.

TM: Oh, I like that.

BO: So, when you compare these systems, the constant…

SK: Constant wattage.

BO: Constant wattage to the intelligent smart system, what are we looking at in terms of electrical use? Is one 50%? 75%?

SK: They’re gonna be pretty comparable.

BO: Oh they are.

SK: Yeah, when temperatures are low. When they’re say around 20 degrees, that’s the sweet spot, but when it gets warm our cable is gonna be quite a bit more affordable to operate, which brings me to another point about constant wattage cable. There are many, many deficiencies in these systems, but if you read the manual, you’re not supposed to use these systems if it’s below 15 degrees because they can actually exacerbate ice dam problems.

RS: What?

TM: How?

SK: Yes, also if you use them…

BO: Don’t give me that “what”. You’ve read that manual and you absolutely know it.

RS: No. No.

SK: Also if you use them…

RS: That’s crazy.

SK: Above 35 degrees, you risk fire and electrical shock. This is all taken right out of the EasyHeat manuals. So, there’s a sweet spot for them. 15 to 35 degrees where you can use constant wattage cable safely. Anything outside of that, all bets are off.

TM: How does it make the problem worse if it’s run when it’s colder than 15.

SK: Because the cable gets embedded in ice. It cannot keep up, it does not have the guts to keep up with the cold.

BO: Are there any documented cases of homes burning down from Little Johnny plugged in the heat cable in August?

SK: Yes. Yes, in fact, this is a true story. I was in Edina about three years ago, and that for a client with a cedar roof and he said, “Hey, while you’re here, you do heat cable.” And I said, “Yeah, yeah.” and I went out, we walked around the back of his house and there was a smoldering pile of easy heat up on his roof and he said, “Yeah, I plugged that in a couple of weeks ago.” And he said, “Well, that doesn’t look right.” And I said, “No Chris, that’s actually really not right at all. There’s a smoldering pile of electrical cable on your wood roof.”

TM: Oh my gosh.

SK: “So, let’s unplug that.” Now that’s an extreme circumstance ’cause he plugged it in, it was probably 60 degrees, it was a fall day. But the point is this stuff, it’s not safe, I don’t believe it’s safe to operate.

TM: Wow.

SK: One other thing in the EasyHeat, manual is that you’re supposed to at least once a month, clear leaves and all combustibles, away from the cable, out of your gutters, in your down spouts off the roof. No leaves or combustibles are allowed to touch this cable. That’s not terribly realistic.

TM: No.

RS: Crazy.

TM: ‘Cause a lot of people install these heat cables on roofs that they can’t rake or they can’t get to physically if it’s two or three stories up. You’re not going to be going up there and cleaning out every single leaf from your gutter.

SK: No.

RS: No.

BO: Do you remember this spring, the helicopter season was out of this world. I think I had 10 inches of helicopters on my gutters and just sitting right on top of the the cables. I have no idea what brand they are, but they weren’t plugged in because it was May anyway. But, wow.

SK: This is really interesting. I had no idea there was like…

TM: Me either.

RS: This amount of technology behind this black cable that just is weaving up and down on your house.

SK: It’s a wire, it looks like a wire, but there’s a big difference. That self-regulating cable, not unless you’re talking about our products. So I wanna be clear about this, to anybody listening. If you don’t buy Heat Tape Pro, that’s fine, buy a self-regulating heat cable that you like and look into it, it’s such a no-brainer when you actually understand the deficiencies of the constant wattage system.

TM: Yeah.

SK: One more, is that that can be repaired, if you drag it across a gutter hanger strap or your dog chews on it, I don’t know. Self-regulating heat cable can be repaired. One knick in a constant wattage cable, the whole thing needs to be thrown away.

BO: Interesting, and I’m sure I’ve got several nicks in mine after I’ve pulled it through, my downspout extension several times.

[laughter]

BO: So I see Reuben open up his computer. I think he’s already started the next blog.

[laughter]

RS: He’s going through my head.

BO: As long as you’re working on your blog, can you tell us where everybody can find it?

RS: Go to structuretech1.com, and you’ll see blog right at the top, or if you Google just about anything related to home inspections, you’ll probably find it. Google home inspection blog. It should be the first thing you find.

BO: How many blogs over the years have you done on heat cables?

RS: Zero.

BO: A change is here.

RS: There’s one in near future.

[laughter]

SK: You and I gotta partner up on this one. There’s a lot to know about this.

TM: I had no idea about self-regulating cables. No idea.

RS: I know.

BO: I guess I’m most surprised that you, Reuben, haven’t read the owner’s manual for cozy heat cables, or whatever they’re called.

RS: I’m so embarrassed. So embarrassed.

SK: I’m embarrassed for you and disappointed.

RS: I’m hanging my head and shame. I won’t talk any more.

BO: Alright, this is fantastic information. Steve, we really appreciate it. Can you tell everybody again the name of the 17 companies or?

[laughter]

SK: Kuhl Design + Build is the remodeling firm; Kuhl’s Contracting is exteriors, roofing; The Ice Dam company speaks for itself; and then Radiant Solutions Company is my manufacturing business that does heat cable.

BO: Alright.

RS: Sweet. We’ll give you some links on the podcast.

SK: Thank you.

BO: Thanks everybody we’ll catch you next time, you’ve been listening to Structure Talk, Structure Tech Presentation brought to you by the most highly rated home inspection company in the Midwest.