Frequently Asked Questions about Ice Dam Removal
Call us at 1-800-ICE-DAMS if you have an ice dam on your roof and live anywhere in the lower 48. We are properly licensed, bonded, and insured, and are the top-rated ice dam removal company in the US. You can end the leaks with a phone call to Ice Dam Guys®.
Got questions about steam ice dam removal in general, or about Ice Dam Guys®’ services? No ice dam company is more up-front, transparent, and informative than Ice Dam Guys®. We can probably answer all your questions right here on this page. Just click on a question to jump down to the answer.
About Ice Dams & Ice Dam Removal in General
- What does an ice dam look like?
- What causes ice dams?
- How do I know if my ice dam is an emergency?
- Is there any way I can remove the ice dams myself?
- Can I just “wait it out” until the ice dams melt naturally around springtime?
- How can I prevent ice dams?
- What insurance policy do you need to remove ice dams?
- How do I pick the right ice dam removal company?
Working with Ice Dam Guys®
- Why shouldn’t I hire the cheap “local” guy?
- Why should I pick Ice Dam Guys®?
- How soon can you remove my ice dams?
- How long does ice dam removal take?
- Are you insured & bonded?
- Are you licensed?
- Are you local?
- Where do you offer ice dam removal?
- Do you use steam?
- Does same-day service cost more?
- Can you steam ice dams on any type of building?
- How do I know if you service the type of roof I have?
- Will your ice dam steamer damage my roof?
- Do you remove ice dams from the entire roof?
- Can you remove ice dams from my roof while I’m on vacation?
- Can you remove ice dams while my business is closed for the holidays?
- What do I need to do before your crew comes over?
- Is there anything I can do to make my job go faster?
- Do you need access to a water supply?
- What if my water is shut off?
- Will you help me turn my water on?
- What if I just don’t want to turn on my water spigot?
- What if I have an underground sprinkler system?
- Do my gutters and downspouts need to be cleared before removing the ice dams?
- Won’t the leak get worse while you’re working?
- Will my leak stop right away?
- Are you guys running some kind of generator? I’m worried about CO2 fumes getting into the building.
- Will you also remove the snow from my roof?
- What happens to the snow and ice you’ve shoveled and steamed off my roof?
- I saw lots of water everywhere. Was your hose leaking?
- Will I be charged less for snow removal or other work done at ground level?
- Don’t you take all the ice with you when you leave?
- Will the ice dams come back? Will I need to call you again?
Ice Dam Removal Cost & Billing
- Will my insurance cover ice dam removal?
- How much does ice dam removal cost?
- Why is ice dam removal so expensive?
- Are your prices competitive?
- Do you have a minimum charge?
- Is ice dam removal taxed?
- When do you start and stop charging me?
- What if it only takes 15 minutes?
- Do you give estimates?
- Do you have a trip charge or a travel charge?
- Do you offer any discounts?
- Can you bill my insurance company directly?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- What if I have a gutter helmet or leaf guard on my gutters?
- Won’t my outdoor faucets freeze?
- Do those hockey-puck-shaped salt tablets really remove ice dams?
- Why did ice dam removal take less time last year?
- Do you also do interior repair work?
- Do you install heat cables or other preventative products?
Misleading Questions That Slippery Companies Hope Will Concern You
- Do your ice dam steamer wands have triggers?
- Do your ice dam steamers use colored tips?
- Do your ice dam steamers run on gas or electric power?
- Another company told me that you use pressure washers. Is that true?
About Ice Dams & Ice Dam Removal in General
What does an ice dam look like?
Some ice dams cannot be seen because they are completely buried in snow, or because they may be higher on the roof or in the roof valleys (or both). But if an ice dam is visible, it will probably look something like what’s in these photos.
The cycle of snow on your roof slowly melting and refreezing lower down on your roof.
Several factors can conspire to melt snow and cause ice dams. Poor attic insulation, lack of adequate attic ventilation, and warm-air leaks into your attic cause the roof deck to heat up from the underside and melt the snow on your roof. The water (melted snow) trickles down the roof and freezes as the temperatures fall below freezing, or when the water reaches a colder surface, like your overhangs, where there is no heated living space beneath. As the freeze-thaw cycle continues, the ice becomes thicker and thicker, eventually creating a small wall of ice – an ice dam. Future melting snow will stop behind the dam, with nowhere to drain off the roof. Not only does this pool of water eventually refreeze into more ice, but also the water can work its way under the shingles (or other roofing material). At this point, the water can leak into your home or building, and quickly cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Shingles are designed to shed water, not to hold water.
How do I know if my ice dam is an emergency?
Is there any way I can remove the ice dams myself?
There is no safe way to remove the ice dams yourself. You risk killing yourself or damaging your roof (or both).
There are various DIY ice dam chemicals and products on the market – none of which we recommend. There are a handful of products that actually do what they promise, but they can also ruin your grass in the summer, kill your shrubs and plantings, discolor your shingles and siding, and cause your gutters to rust, oxidize, or peel. (For more detail, see my page on good and bad ice dam solutions.)
Can I just “wait it out” until the ice dams melt naturally around springtime?
Possibly. Sometimes you can wait it out and have the ice dams slowly but surely melt off of your roof and not into your home. But more times than not it doesn’t work out that way, and there’s no way to know just how much your roof can take. The most likely outcome of the “wait and see” approach is you’ll arrive home from work one day and discover a pool of water in your home. At this point you’ll not only have to pay for ice dam removal – and fast – but you’ll also have to fork over for repairs to your damaged home. You’ll also need to tolerate construction workers in your home for many weeks in the spring.
How can I prevent ice dams?
This page has more detail on the best ways to prevent ice dams (there are several).
What insurance policy do you need to remove ice dams?
“Need”? None. Most ice dam companies don’t carry the right kind of insurance. They don’t know or don’t care that it won’t protect you in case of disaster.
But what an honest and professional ice dam company should carry is an active General Liability policy specifically for ice dam removal.
Also, depending on the state it operates in it may also need to carry an active Workers’ Compensation policy. That’s the case in Minnesota, for example.
Each policy (General Liability & Work Comp) MUST list the business name the company uses for its ice dam removal services. You should see the ice dam professional’s ice-dam-related DBA (“doing business as”) on the policy. The DBA matters because the company may do different work in the summer from what it does in the winter (That is the case with most ice dam removal companies).
Any company can have a General Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverage, but are they covered specifically for “ice dam removal?” Insurance policies are not one-size-fits-all. You should be concerned if you don’t see the words “Ice Dam” somewhere on each of their certificates of coverage – whether it be in their business name itself or somewhere else within the document. Look for the words “Ice Dam” somewhere on their certificates!
How do I pick the right ice dam removal company?
Don’t pick the cheapest ice dam company. Look for specialists, not just a roofer or a gutter company. Don’t trust a company that provides estimates over the phone, which are impossible to provide accurately. Only hire companies that use steam to remove ice dams, are insured, and charge by the hour. Research them online before even picking up the phone and calling them.
Also, check the following places to determine whether it’s an ice dam removal company, that it’s actually a company at all, and that its customers seem to be happy:
- Better Business Bureau
- 3rd-party review Sites (e.g. Google, Angie’s List, Yelp, Houzz, Kudzu, Facebook, YellowPages, etc.)
- The company website; pay special attention to the name of the site and the “About Us” page
- The company’s email address
- The Secretary of State website
Working with Ice Dam Guys®
Why shouldn’t I hire the cheap “local” guy?
You get what you pay for. You may also get damaged shingles, billing “gotchas,” and work performed by a company that lacks the proper insurance to protect you in case of an accident.
For more detail, see our “Why Choose Us” page.
Why should I pick Ice Dam Guys®?
In a nutshell: because of our nearly two decades in business, and because of our expertise in ice dam removal, along with our excellent customer service. You’ll see those qualities reflected in the online reviews our customers have written (just Google “Ice Dam Guys®”). For more info, again, please see our “Why Choose Us” page.
How soon can you remove my ice dams?
Today or tomorrow – depending on (1) whether we’ve got Ice Dam Guys® technicians in your area if you are outside of Minnesota, (2) how close to the Twin Cities you are if you’re in Minnesota, and (3) how swamped with calls we are. Please contact us to get a definite ETA.
How long does ice dam removal take?
The average job seems to run in the neighborhood of 4 hours, but your job may take longer. Because there are countless variables to consider, it’s “impossible” to answer this question with any degree of certainty before we’ve even seen the ice dam with our own eyes. To make matters worse, we have no idea how large the ice dam really is until we’ve first cleared off all the snow that’s covering it). Then…we need some time to actually begin removing it. It is only at that point we “may” be able to give you a rough guesstimate of time. Many jobs take as little as 2 hours (for those that have a small contained area to de-ice), but some can take up to several days (for those that have an epic amount of ice and snow). It’s important to remember that the size of your home is not always a factor in how long ice dam removal takes. Every home is different, every client’s wishes are different, every winter is different, and every ice dam is different (both in thickness, location, and how far up the roof or valley it climbs).
We’re always trying to get a better idea of how long the average ice dam removal job takes. We get a bit scientific about it. At the end of every season we add up all the hours we spent removing ice dams, and then divide this number by the number of jobs we completed. Based on nearly two decades of data, we’ve found that the resulting number is 4 (or 4 hours per job), on average. Hence our estimate of 4 hours for the average ice dam removal job. Pile on a few feet of snow to shovel off your roof before we can begin steaming, and that number increases. Decide you want your entire roof cleared (vs. just a small section of it) and that number increases. If the ambient temperature is below freezing, that number increases. And so on and so forth.
Contact us if you need ice dam removal ASAP.
Are you insured & bonded?
Yes. We are fully and properly insured & bonded. Anyone can easily (and cheaply) be insured & bonded, but what are they insured and bonded for? We are insured & bonded for ice dam removal, as well as roof snow removal!
Are you licensed?
Yes, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be dealing with a licensed contractor (license #BC710572). But please keep in mind that there’s no such thing as an actual ice dam removal license. (We wish there were.) Any ice dam company that claims to have one is (a) lying or (b) touting a fake, made-up, or homebrewed license – as opposed to one from an established and credible third-party organization. However, unlike most ice dam removal companies, we are fully & properly insured and bonded, and have done ice dam removal for nearly two decades.
Are you local?
We are based in Minneapolis, the unofficial ice dam capitol of the country. But depending on the winter, we will likely have Ice Dam Guys® in other places susceptible to ice dams. We’ve evolved from the top Twin Cities ice dam removal company to, arguably, the first national ice dam company. Pretty much every winter we travel to where customers need us. We may be in your area already. Call us at 1-800-ICE-DAMS if you have an ice dam on your roof and need it steamed off.
Where do you offer ice dam removal?
Do you use steam?
We do. We use top-of-the-line, customized gas-powered ice dam steamers to remove ice dams. Why don’t we use electric steamers, as some companies do? Because we’ve found that electric steamers are underpowered and take far too long to get the job done. They almost always remove ice dams with wet steam less than 212-240F, which we’ve found to be inadequate. When you’re paying by the hour, you want a gas-powered steamer that can make short work of your ice dams, and runs at a minimum of approx. 250F.
We use completely customized gas-powered steamers that we’ve fine-tuned and perfected over many years. Too many ice dam removal “professionals” use off-the-shelf steamers and don’t bother to invest the time and money into R&D to create equipment that’s better than standard off-the-shelf equipment.
We invest in the best tools and equipment because our top priority is to remove your ice dam as quickly as safely as possible.
We’d really appreciate it if you’d let us know the name of the person or company who told you, “Ice Dam Guys® uses pressure washers!” We won’t mention that you told us. We’d just like to know who’s creating urban legends about us. If you let us know where you heard that one, we’ll give you a discount on your project.
Does same-day service cost more?
No. If you have an ice dam emergency, other people in your area probably have one, too, in which case we recommend calling us as soon as possible. When one home leaks, many others leak. Time is of the essence. You don’t want to get stuck with an underqualified or underinsured ice dam removal company.
Can you steam ice dams on any type of building?
With the possible exception of the Sears Tower, yes. We remove ice dams from single-family homes, townhouses, apartment buildings, businesses, and municipal buildings. We’ve removed ice dams from homes and other buildings tall and short, old and new. We’ve removed them from regular asphalt roofs, metal roofs, glass roofs, slate roofs, and roofs with solar panels or skylights. Although we’re as experienced and skilled as they come, we still reserve the right to decline certain projects if we feel they’re excessively dangerous.
How do I know if you service the type of roof I have?
We’ve removed ice dams from just about every type of roof, and can remove them from yours, too. In any case, we’ll ask you over the phone what kind of roof you have. (Unless you live in an igloo, we shouldn’t have any problems removing your ice dams.) From time to time we will decline a job if our technician’s safety is unusually at-risk.
Will your ice dam steamer damage my roof?
No. One reason is we don’t use over-powered pressure washers, as some ice dam companies do. And although we’re proud to use our customized gas-powered steamers to remove your ice dam gently (but quickly), much more important than equipment is technique.
In the nearly two decades that we’ve been removing ice dams, we’ve not only developed a world-class steamer, but we’ve also developed methods, standards, and steady hands. We know where the ice ends and your shingles begin. I can’t stress enough just how important “experience” is when it come to ice dam removal and protecting your home from damage.
Although we sure think our Steamzilla™ steamers are something special, if it’s damage to your roof or home you’re worried about, it’s worth being more concerned about the person operating the steamer than about the steamer itself.
Our steam is powerful, and looks powerful when we’re on your roof.
As tough as it is on ice dams, our steam won’t damage your roof. Check out this photo. Notice that the moss on the shingles is still intact.
One reason our customers love us is we’re perhaps the gentlest ice dam removal company. Once the snow melts, nobody will be able to tell that an ice dam and an Ice Dam Guys® pro were ever on your roof.
Do you remove ice dams from the entire roof?
We may recommend that, but it is entirely up to you. You are in charge of how much time we spend on your roof. Your technician will have a better idea of what needs to be done once he sees the scope of the project. Although we highly recommend you take the advice of our technicians, you can decide exactly how much ice you want removed.
Can you remove ice dams from my roof while I’m on vacation?
Yes, we can. We often remove snow and/or ice dams from roofs while our customers are out of town or unavailable. We can do it for you, too.
We’d always prefer if you’re home, though, for a number of reasons:
- It’s nice to have someone home to keep an eye on things. If the ice dams on your roof caused interior leaks, melting them may temporally worsen the leak.
- Good ice dam removal isn’t cheap. One reason is simply that a LOT of work goes into climbing up on the roof in the winter to remove several tons of ice (and snow). We’d like you to see first-hand what’s involved, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
- It makes billing a little easier for both of us. Once we’ve made your home safe and ice-free, you can write a check on the spot, rather than have to dig out your credit card and read the number over the phone from your hammock in the Bahamas. It’s also cheaper for you to write a check and avoid the convenience fee for using a credit card.
Can you remove ice dams while my business is closed for the holidays?
Yes. It’s a bit more difficult and time-consuming for us, and therefore ends up costing a little more than otherwise. Please call us to discuss your specific case.
What do I need to do before your crew comes over?
Is there anything I can do to make my job go faster?
Yes. Be present, and make sure your water is on when our technician arrives. Also, if you have the ability to rake your roof, any snow you can rake off is snow we won’t have to spend time removing before we can start steaming – although we’re happy to remove it for you. Here are a few other ways to save time and money.
Do you need access to a water supply?
Yes, preferably an outdoor water faucet. We will need to hook up to a standard garden hose spigot.
What if my water is shut off?
We will need you to turn the water back on for the duration of our stay. (Flowing water doesn’t freeze, so no worries.) If you have an irrigation system, you will want to check with the company that closed your system to make sure you don’t accidentally turn on the water to that. When we’re finished steaming and have left, go ahead and turn your water back off, quickly open the outside spigot to drain any remaining water from the pipe, and turn it shut. We can also help you with this if you’d like (see next question).
Will you help me turn my water on?
We’ll help with just about anything you need help with, including turning on your water. Although I’m confident our technicians could turn your water on and off 999 times out of 1000 without a problem, we’re not plumbers or irrigation contractors. So although I despise disclaimers, I must warn you that we cannot be help responsible for any mishaps as a result of our helping you with your water. When you’ve been in as many homes as we have, you’ve seen it all. Gas shutoffs with BLUE handles, irrigation systems that run directly into the water supply feeding the spigot – with no vacuum breaker or secondary shut-off, water shutoffs that are inside a wall cavity where you’re simply feeling for a valve you can’t see, and many other crazy setups. There’s always a minuscule chance something could go wrong, but if you’re willing to accept that small risk, we’re willing to help.
What if I just don’t want to turn on my water spigot?
You should always opt to turn on your outside spigot, but we may also have the option of hooking up to the water in the house, perhaps in a laundry room (if you have a faucet with a garden hose connection), or perhaps at your washing machine inlet. But generally we don’t like to do that, because you’d need to leave a door open for our hose. Could get chilly, and critters could also find their way into your toasty warm home. Lastly, if your house is close enough to your neighbors, we may be able to use their spigot if you’re able to sweet talk them into it.
What if I have an underground sprinkler system?
They are usually on a separate valve from the one we’ll need to run our ice dam steamers. But you’ll want to check with the company that installed or winterized your irrigation system to make sure.
Do my gutters and downspouts need to be cleared before removing the ice dams?
Not necessarily. Although that’s a service we provide on request, and may ourselves recommend if we think it’s of benefit to you. Many times if we clear your gutters and/or downspouts they may simply fill back up with ice weeks or only days after we’re gone. We recommend whatever advice your Ice Dam Guys® technician gives you.
Won’t the leak get worse while you’re working?
Probably not, but it is possible. It won’t turn into a flood. Generally, if the leak will worsen at all, it may go from a slow drip to a steady drip until the first piece of ice is removed and the dammed-up water is allowed to drain off the roof. At that point, the leaking will slow and eventually stop altogether.
Will my leak stop right away?
Usually it will usually stop quickly, but it may take up to several hours. It depends on how much water is inside your house already and on how far the visible leak is from the point where water has entered your roof (i.e. how long the “pipeline” of the leak is). The overall mass of the ice dam itself will also play a role in how long it takes for your leak(s) to stop.
Are you guys running some kind of generator? I’m worried about CO2 fumes getting into the building.
Nope! What you’re seeing is our steamer. What may look like smoke is just steam. The only emissions we’re creating when getting rid of an ice dam are water vapor emissions. You can breathe easy. Although there is a gas-powered engine to run the water pump and a diesel-powered burner to heat the water, that equipment is in our truck, away from your home.
Will you also remove the snow from my roof?
We will automatically remove any snow on your roof that’s covering the ice dam(s). We may remove even more snow than that to find exactly where the ice dam is in the first place. We’ll be glad to remove additional snow for you if you ask us to, and in almost all cases we highly recommend it. After all, it’s the melting snow causing your ice dams to form in the first place. It’s good practice to remove ALL the snow from your roof, but often times it’s simply cost-prohibitive. For this reason, and this reason only, we’ve made clearing ALL the snow off your roof,optional.
I saw lots of water everywhere. Was your hose leaking?
No way: We check all our hoses every morning and invest in the finest equipment. (To do anything less would endanger our safety and the safety of others while we’re removing ice dams, and it would tarnish our reputation.)
You may see a lot of water in your yard and driveway. That’s simply melted ice from your roof. The result of steam and ice is water, and there’s no way to avoid water when melting an ice dam. Also, all steamers emit some amount of water.
Still, it’s worth having someone home during ice dam removal to keep an eye on basements, egress windows, skylights, and the like. Sometimes – for reasons outside of our control – water can work its way into those areas. That’s why it’s ideal if you can give us intel from the inside, on the off-chance you see any water wiggling in. We can stop, adjust or technique, and keep a small problem from becoming a big problem.
What happens to the snow and ice you’ve shoveled and steamed off my roof?
If the snow and chunks of ice have fallen off your roof and onto your yard, we will do nothing. There’s no point. If it falls onto your driveway, sidewalk, or other higher-traffic area, we will remove it if you’ve allotted us time to do so, and if you realize that we’ll need to remain “on the meter.”
Will I be charged less for snow removal or other work done at ground level?
No. We bill the same for everything we do, because it’s all a necessary part of ice dam removal done properly, and because it’s all hard work. If you’d prefer us to leave snow and ice on the ground for you to take care of (and save a buck), we’ll be glad to oblige, but we wouldn’t recommend that. If it’s not removed immediately, it may become a giant frozen blob, or an ice rink. I can’t tell you how many times, for example, the woman of the house tells us her husband will take care of the snow and ice when he gets home, and later we receive an angry phone call from the husband, who just wanted to come home to an ice-cold beer. Instead he finds himself chiseling away at a giant mountain of frozen snow and ice, angry that we would even imply this was a possible task.
Don’t you take all the ice with you when you leave?
Proper ice dam removal almost always leaves behind large chunks of ice scattered throughout your property. It’s almost certainly harmless, and we’re pretty confident that you don’t want to pay us what it would take to keep all the ice off your yard. Either we’d forced to melt 100% of the ice on your roof (which would a long time – time you’re paying for), or we’d have to gather it all up and haul it away – which is also ridiculously time-consuming and expensive. It’s better to let that ice lie safely on the ground rather than on your roof, causing leaks.
Still, for obvious safety concerns, we’ll always make sure your driveway and walkways are clear of ice chunks.
Will the ice dams come back? Will I need to call you again?
Possibly. It’s doesn’t happen often, but it does happen every now and then. It happens most often when customers decide against removing all the snow and ice from their roof. Some customers try to cut corners by removing only the part of the ice dam causing the leak. That’s a good way to need another visit from an Ice Dam Guys® tech. Also, if the conditions are just right and you don’t keep the snow off your roof, ice dams may redevelop and cause additional problems (even if you had all the snow and ice removed from your roof).
Ice Dam Removal Cost & Billing
Will my insurance cover ice dam removal?
Possibly, but it depends on the insurance company and on a number of other factors. After you get off the phone with us, you may want to call your insurance agent to ask. But first, read our article, Ice Dam Removal Cost & Your Insurance.
How much does ice dam removal cost?
Several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the job. Again, every house is different, and every winter is different, so guesstimating a total cost is a recipe for disappointment. Any credible, qualified ice dam removal company charges several hundred dollars an hour, and the job itself will take an absolute minimum of 2 hours.
Why is ice dam removal so darn expensive?
To name just a few of the many reasons: the cost of the specialized equipment (e.g. ice dam steamers), insanely high insurance rates for hazardous work, lots of training to develop ice dam removal skills, solid pay to retain skilled ice dam removers, and compensation for the on-demand, “emergency” nature of the work.
Are your prices competitive?
We’ve charged in the same price range for over a decade. We know what we need to stay in business, carry the proper insurance, build and maintain our customized ice dam steamers, pay our technicians equitably, and provide the best customer service. Companies that charge less are cutting corners somewhere.
Do you have a minimum charge?
Yes, we have a 2-hour minimum charge. We have to travel with a truck full of equipment, and it takes a little time to remove several tons of ice from a roof. (It takes a lot to be able to do it right.)
Many steps are involved in even the smallest ice dam removal job.
We need to clear our machines of antifreeze, access a water spigot, unload and set up ladders, remove at the very least the snow covering the ice dam, and route hoses to the location of the ice dam – all BEFORE we can even start steaming ice. Not to mention that working with water in the dead of winter is time-consuming, and Mother Nature fights us every step of the way.
Some companies claim to have no minimum charge, just to get their foot in the door. But once on your roof they’ll lollygag and take longer than necessary to remove your ice dams, just to rack up more hours for which they can bill you.
There are steps you can take to help us keep it as quick and inexpensive as possible.
We’re up-front and honest with you: ice dam removal never takes less than 2 hours, so we won’t try to convince you that we can do it in less time. Our 2-hour minimum charge is just another way we try to be as transparent as possible.
Or feel free to contact us if you see an ice dam on the roof.
Is ice dam removal taxed?
No, ice dam removal is not a service subject to sales tax, at least in our native Minnesota.
When do you start and stop charging me?
Although we don’t have any trip charges or hidden fees of any kind, billing begins when our technician arrives at your home or business, and ends after we have prepped our ice dam steam machine and equipment for travel to the next job. Set-up and cleanup are part of every job, and we bill accordingly.
What if it only takes 15 minutes?
That won’t happen. It’s extremely rare that a job takes less than 2 hours. Ice dam removal is not a quick process. We have to find and connect to the water, set up our ice dam steamers, get up on the roof, shovel enough snow to expose the ice dam, remove the ice dam, and take down and pack up our equipment (including draining all our hoses and filling everything with antifreeze). On the rare occasion that a job takes less than our 2-hour minimum, and there’s not another emergency call on the heels of your job, typically our technician will stay and do a little extra work that will benefit you, like shoveling more of the snow off your roof. But again, it almost never happens.
Do you give estimates?
Never. It’s impossible to determine the size and extent of the ice dams until we actually see them – and to do that we need to remove all the snow that’s covering the ice dams. Is your ice dam comprised of soft white-ice or hard black ice – that makes a big difference on how fast we can melt it. The list of variables is nearly never-ending.
If a company promises over the phone to remove your ice dams in a specific number of hours, or they can remove “X” amount of linear feet per hour, one of several bad things will happen:
– They won’t remove the ice dams on-time, and will ask you to pay them even more if you want them to finish the job.
– They won’t melt the ice dams within their promised timeframe, and will leave you with a roof that’s only partly free of ice dams – and therefore at risk of caving in or leaking.
– They’ll hustle to complete the job by cutting corners – and will likely damage your shingles by using improper ice dam steaming technique, or they won’t remove the ice dams completely (instead they’ll melt channels through the ice dams).
Rather than over-promise and under-deliver, we prefer to be honest and up-front with you by telling you – based on nearly 20 years of removing ice dams – that free estimates are misleading and an all too common tactic used by newbies and non-professionals.
Do you have a trip charge or a travel charge?
No, we do not have any additional or hidden charges. Our hourly rate and 2-hour minimum are the whole story.
Do you offer any discounts?
Can you bill my insurance company directly?
We do not bill insurance companies directly. We require payment upon completion of the job. (It’s possible you may be reimbursed by your insurance company.) There are rare instances when we’ll bill your insurance company, but that must be agreed upon (and in writing prior to setting up your appointment.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes. In addition to accepting checks, we accept all major credit cards, as well as online forms of payment, like PayPal. Note: we do charge a 3% convenience fee for the use of any credit card. For this reason, check or cash is always your best option.
What if I have a gutter helmet or leaf guard on my gutters?
Gutter helmets or leaf guards of any kind generally are not a problem for us, but they will undoubtedly slow down the ice dam removal process if your gutters happen to be packed with ice.
Won’t my outdoor faucets freeze?
Most modern homes are built with frost-free faucets. If you’ve got one, your water is probably already on and there’s nothing for you to do.
If you have an older home with direct-line faucets, you will need to first turn your water on for us. When our work is complete you’ll have to turn the water back off again (from the inside). You’ll also want to open the outside spigot (to let out the small amount of water in the pipe), and then close it again. It’s as simple as that.
Do those hockey-puck-shaped salt tablets really remove ice dams?
No, but salt pucks are great if you want to create perfectly round holes in your ice dams to keep your soft drinks cold! I’d bet 5 out of 10 ice dams we remove have perfectly round holes melted through them.
Why did ice dam removal take less time last year?
The short answer is: dozens of factors can affect the amount of time any given ice dam removal job takes. We’ll always tell you how long the average job has taken us this year, and that might be more meaningful after we’ve gotten on your roof, removed the snow, and looked at the ice dam. Don’t expect to pay the same amount for ice dam removal from year to year. It may take 3 hours one year, and 15+ hours the next year, or vice versa. Ice dams are never the same size, thickness, or density from year to year.
Do you also do interior repair work?
We do not do any interior repair, but we may be able to recommend a great contractor we have worked with before.
Do you install heat cables or other preventative products?
No. We did many years ago, but we no longer do. They were unreliable and often caused more harm than good. If we ever find a system that consistently performs as promised, we may install something similar to heat cables again. But never will we be installing any type of heat cable.
Misleading Questions That Slippery Companies Hope Will Concern You
Do your ice dam steamer wands have triggers?
We get a kick out of that question, because our competitors thought it up.
According to their tinfoil-hat ruse, “triggers are bad.” Our steam wands do have triggers, and we’re proud of them – partly because our customized “triggered” steamers can get hotter and put out less water than can most of our competitors’ trigger-less steamers.
The triggered wand simply helps our technicians work more efficiently and safely, and use less water while on your roof. We can temporarily stop the flow of water and steam whenever we choose. Maybe we’re pushing a piece of ice off your roof, climbing up and down the ladder, or maybe we decided to shovel a bit more snow off an area of your roof because it would be quicker than steaming it off. No problem; we can simply let off the trigger and the steamer will remain in bypass mode until we’re ready to resume steaming. We use an open-loop system, whereas companies who use one-size-fits-all off-the-shelf steamers are forced to use a closed-loop system. You simply can’t use a triggered gun with a closed-loop system or you’d seriously risk blowing up your hose or the steamer itself, if and when the operator lets off the trigger. Rather than explain that to their would-be customer, our competition simply says “triggers are bad.” That’s a generalization that is factually wrong.
I guess when you’re stuck using the off-the-shelf closed-loop steamers that nearly all of our competitors use, you don’t have the option of a trigger. As second-rate software developers in Silicon Valley might say, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”
There’s a reason we use customized steamers that cost us nearly double what other companies’ do.
Still, if for some reason you’d prefer us to use a non-triggered steam wand, just let us know and we’ll be happy to oblige. But please know that the ice dam steamer will dump more water on your roof than it would if you had allowed us to use our famous triggered steam-wand.
By the way, we have nothing against companies that don’t use triggered-wands. They just happen to use off-the-shelf steamers, and we do not.
We’d really appreciate it if you’d let us know the name of the person or company who told you (a) that we use triggers and that (b) that’s a bad thing. We won’t mention that you told us. We’d like to know who’s spreading misinformation about us. If you let us know, we’ll give you a discount on your project.
Do your ice dam steamers use colored tips?
This is similar to the “trigger” question, only it’s about the little colored tips commonly used on the end of a pressure-washing lance.
Yes, we use the colored tips on the end of our steam gun (often called a “lance”). Again, we use customized ice dam steamers. Because they’re not off-the-shelf steamers we can do all types of things others can’t, including picking the right tip(s) for the job. We can quickly switch tips to melt a particular area of ice more efficiently. We’ve studied these tips for years and know exactly how each tip will affect the steam coming out of our steamer. We can use a tip with a bigger hole to reduce pressure and heat, or we can use a tip with a smaller hole to increase pressure and heat. We can also combine any number of tips along with a quick adjustment to our steamer and do all types of things: more heat and less pressure, more pressure and less heat, and so forth. We can also change the “pattern” of steam coming out the end of the lance. It’s similar to using different chokes in your shotgun barrel.
Our tips act as a tool chest, the right tip for the right job. We even use the brass cone tips commonly used by our competitors – if that’s the right tip for the area of ice we’re working on. We don’t force the ice to adjust to our steam, temperature, and angle. Rather, we adjust to the ice. The combination of our steamers, tip-selection, know-how, and steady hands allow us to achieve the perfect balance of heat and pressure and pattern to remove your ice dam quickly and safely, without damaging what’s under the ice.
Check out this photo of in-progress ice dam removal. Notice the moss still intact on the shingles.
That’s how gentle our steaming technique is, and picking the perfect tip is part of that technique.
Do your ice dam steamers run on gas or electric power?
Our steamers are powered by a gasoline engine vs. using your power. Way back when (before we customized our newest Steamzilla™ Steamer) we used electric powered steamers (aka squirt guns). After years of struggling with under-powered electric steamers, and all the other headaches that came along with them – problems that include:
- Tripping breakers
- Blowing bar or screw-in fuses in older homes
- Outlets without proper grounding (i.e., no three-pronged receptacle) pose potentially serious fire hazards and operator safety hazards
- Tripping GFI outlet and/or GFCI circuit breakers in new style homes
- Tripping AFCI circuits in new-new style homes
- Tripping GFI circuit on the steamer itself
- Upsetting some customers by using their power supply
- No exterior outlets being available
- Exterior outlets not being able to be located covered in snow – and having to charge our customers to shovel snow for an hour of more in search on it (all the while their house is leaking water!)
- Using interior outlets having to leave a window cracked – letting cold air in
- Using an interior outlet leaving a door cracked – letting mice in their home
We eventually made the switch to gas-powered engines. Gas-powered engines are more expensive for us to purchase and to operate, but they save you money in the long run. Not to mention saving you the hassle and potential inconvenience of having to come home and reset circuits, replace fuses, paying for us to find and dig out your exterior receptacle, allowing cold air and/or rodents into your home or business, etc. And even worse, when a circuit or fuse blows, the water inside our steamer will freeze solid in a matter of minutes (typically before you can even reset a simple beaker in your home), meaning your roof will continue to leak, as we’ll have to reschedule your appointment for another day (and thaw our machine out).
The single best day in my ice dam removal career was when we switched from electric-powered steamers to gas-powered steamers. Anyone claiming that you should not hire an ice dam removal company if their steamer(s) run on gasoline vs. electric is either a newbie to ice dam removal, unintelligent, or pushing a hidden agenda (like “Please hire us”). It’s an absurd claim to make, and you should steer clear of anyone making those sorts of claims.
FYI – Many of these very companies making these claims actually use gasoline-fired generators to plug their “electric” steamers into. That’s like buying an electric car and running it off of a gasoline-powered generator. All we can do is chuckle.
Another company told me that you use pressure washers. Is that true?
That’s just more of our competitors’ skulduggery. We would never use high-powered hot water for ice dam removal. But, because our steamers start out as pressure washers before we customize them, our competitors think we use pressure washers. They even go so far as to call our supplier and pry them for info related to our custom steamers.
Generally, there are 2 types of ice dam steam machines: wet steamers and dry steamers. Although we can produce wet OR dry steam with our steamers, we almost always use wet steam for our ice dam removal process. That’s simply because wet steam outperforms dry steam on almost every ice dam we’ve used it on (we’ve removed many thousands).
Our customized wet-steam ice dam steamers cost nearly twice what most of our competitors’off-the-shelf steamers cost. Although our steamers cost us an arm and a leg, they also allow us to remove ice dams more quickly, with our characteristic chunk-cutting technique, which is typically the most efficient way to remove ice dams from your roof.
We’d really appreciate it if you’d let us know the name of the company and person who told you, “Ice Dam Guys® uses pressure washers!” We won’t mention that you told us. We’d just like to know who’s creating urban legends about us. If you let us know where you heard that one, we’ll give you a discount on your project and promise not to name you in the lawsuit against them.
We generally run our machines around 250F (and we can go even hotter, creating dryer steam, but it’s rarely of benefit). Because there are some water droplets in wet steam – to aid in ice-melting – our competitors also try to claim that we use pressure washers. The definition of steam is “The vapor into which water is converted when heated, forming a white mist of minute water droplets in the air.”
The fact is our customized ice dam steamers can deliver hotter steam and with less water than any other steamer we’ve tested. We just don’t often run them hotter than about 270F because we’ve found they don’t melt the ice as quickly. And, get the steam too hot and the tip of the steamer can melt an asphalt shingle in no time. We know that because we’ve purchased and used nearly all of our competitor’s off-the-shelf steamers and spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars studying them and improving upon them. There’s a reason our competitors steamer’s lay unused in the back corner of our shop.
The hotter the water, the more it becomes a vapor. The problem with vapor is that it doesn’t retain heat as well as water does. The problem with water is it can cut your roof like a power saw if used at a high pressure.
The secret is to use just the right amount of vapor, combined with just enough water and pressure to melt ice like a hot knife through butter, yet not damage your roof. Now, change the pattern in which that wet steam leaves the nozzle – as we can with our interchangeable tips – and you’ve got yourself one versatile piece of ice-melting equipment. It’s safe, fast, and can be adjusted in several ways to make the quickest job out of your project. That’s how Ice Dam Guys® does it.
Oh, and we do it “with a trigger” too.
While our competitors busy themselves with trying to poke holes in our steamers, we’re busy inventing, testing, and creating better equipment to melt your ice more quickly and safely than anyone else can.
Again, if you tell us the name of the company and the person there who told you that we use pressure washers for ice dam removal, we’ll give you a nice discount on your project.
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