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DIY Ice Dam Removal: a Good Idea?

No, you should not try to remove ice dams from your roof yourself.

Not unless you’re a trained and experienced pro who’s been on hundreds of roofs and logged hundreds of hours with an ice-dam steamer (which I’m guessing you don’t have lying around the garage) .

It can be a good way to fall and break yourself like Humpty Dumpty – not to mention damage your roof and not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

Nor would I suggest wasting your money and time on salt pucks.  You know, those little disks of salt that are supposed to allow runoff if you throw 100 of them on your roof.

They’re useful to one person: the guy who invented them, who’s having a laugh in his hot tub on his yacht in the Caribbean, both paid for by hapless homeowners, who are too busy watching the ice “melt” to feel ripped off.

The same goes for filling pantyhose with salt and throwing them onto your roof.  They’re every bit as ineffective as salt-pucks.  But they’re a real bonus if you like decorating your home with brown tubes.  Your home can look like Big Bird flew over it and relieved himself.

Here are some other things I’ve seen DIY ice dam removers try:

  • Runnning hot water from the laundry tub.  Not a bad idea – if you have a 1,000-gallon hot-water heater in your basement.
  • Boiling water one pot at a time and slowly drizzling it over the ice dam.  Because there’s nothing that can go wrong when you’re climbing a slippery ladder in the dead of winter while holding a pot of 212-degree water.
  • The ol’ hair dryer trick.  If you like using the toaster while in the bathtub, you’ll love hair-dryer ice dam removal.
  • My favorite: pouring gasoline on your ice dam and lighting it.  Your kids will get a laugh because they’ll think you’re Wile E. Coyote.

But what you can do – and what I suggest you do – is prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.  That is something you can do yourself.  You wouldn’t need my services, which of course makes me a little sad.  But I’m firm believer in karma, and “What goes around comes around.”   I’ve built most of this website to inform and help the concerned homeowner.

Here are a few posts I’ve done that can help you prevent ice dams:

How to Forecast (and Prevent) Ice Dams

3 Roof-Raking Tips for Quicker and Easier Roof Snow Removal

How to Pick out the Right Roof Rake for Roof Snow Removal

Pre-Vacation Ice Dam Prevention Measures

How Do I Know When the Ice Dam Season Is Over?

Hope that helps!

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Written by on February 14, 2014

One comment

  1. Ice Dam Guys have my highest recommendation. They were prompt, professional, and very nice to work with. Dan Atchison, the technician, came to my house the same day I called, answered my questions, and was efficient and expert at removing the ice from my roof. Dan cleaned up the debris, and advised me on steps I could take to prevent future problems. Excellent service!

    Comment by Barbara Geiser
    March 1, 2018

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