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Top 5 Ways the Wrong Ice Dam Removal Service Can Make Your Life More Difficult

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®.

[singlepic id=66 w=240 h=180 float=left]Minnesota winters test the durability of your home and particularly the durability of your roof: heavy snowstorms leave multi-ton ice dams on your roof, which put your roof under constant strain and often cause leaks in your home.  The test for homeowners is to find a service that can remove these ice dams safely and affordably.

I’ve removed thousands of ice dams from Twin City -area homes since 1996.  But I’ve also seen improper ice dam removal cause heartache for far too many homeowners–who often are left with damaged roofs, more leaking, and/or an oversized bill that cuts into their mortgage or heating bills.

To preserve your home and your checkbook, you’ll want to make certain that the ice dam removal service you hire avoids making the following 5 mistakes:

1.  Using the wrong equipment. If an ice dam removal “pro” tries to remove the ice dams or icicles with a tool like a hammer, chisel, shovel, or (heaven forbid) a blowtorch, your roof will be damaged.  Not only will your roof be more susceptible to leakage but your insurance company won’t cover the damage to your home.

What should be used to remove ice dams?  That brings us to mistake #2:

2.  Not using steam. Steam is hot enough to remove ice dams quickly and without drowning your roof in water.  But some ice dam removal services instead use hot water–water that’s less than 250F.

There are three problems with using hot water.  One, hot water takes significantly longer to remove ice dams–because it’s not as hot as steam, and because steam blasters give an ice dam removal pro the ability to cut ice dams off of the roof surgically.  Two, because ice dam removal services charge by the hour, you will end up paying significantly more if you hire someone who uses time-consuming hot water rather than steam.  Three, if your roof is already leaking due to the ice dams, the hundreds or even thousands of gallons of hot water will only make the leakage worse.

3.  Making the “rookie mistake” of leaving footprints on your roof. If the ice dam professional walks back and fourth along your snow-covered roof without first clearing a path through the snow, another ice dam will form within a few days or weeks (and sometimes immediately).

When you climb atop a roof in the dead of winter, it feels much safer to stand in the middle of a foot-high snowdrift than on bare, slippery shingles.  But the problem is that once someone stands atop your snow-covered roof, the snow gets packed down and will harden (eventually turning to ice).  The so-called ice dam removal “pro” will have charged you to remove one ice dam while he left you with a completely new ice dam.  This newly created ice dam is most likely even worse that the one he just removed because it’s higher on your roof where you have no protection from ice and water shield.

My crew and a few others take pains to stand on bare shingles at all times.  This requires that we shovel the snow in front of us as we walk across the roof.  Although this creates a little extra work for us, it helps ensure that once we’re done removing the current ice dams, the homeowner will not have to worry about another ice dam forming for quite a while.

4.  Slow response time. If the ice dam removal service you hire doesn’t offer same-day or next-day service, your home is at the mercy of the elements until the ice dam removal truck shows up.

If you call up an ice dam removal service and they promise to come by in a week or two, you’d better hope that (1) it doesn’t snow in the next week and that (2) the temperature doesn’t rise causing additional melting atop your roof.  But it’s winter, so snow is common, as are daily spikes in temperature.  As a result, your ice dams will get worse and you’re more likely to experience even more leaking.  Living in Minnesota and hoping for weather that’s cold and steady but not snowy is nothing less than a pipe dream.

Find an ice dam remover that offers same-day or next-day service, so that you can get rid of the ice dams before they become even more of an inconvenience or cause further damage to your home.  It’s not uncommon for us to see an entire ceiling lying on someone’s living room floor as a result of waiting too long for the ice dam removal pro to show up.

5. Sloppy steaming technique. A seasoned professional will use the steamer to cut off one large chunk of ice at a time, carefully separate it from the shingles, push it off the roof, and cut off another chunk.  Only once the bulk of the ice is removed will he do a more general spray-down of the roof, in order to remove every last bit of ice and snow.

A less experienced ice dam remover will try to melt all the ice at once just by spraying unmethodically over the whole ice dam.  This eventually works, but it takes significantly longer than if he used the “cutting” method.  Given that you’re paying by the hour, you’ll want to ask the ice dam removal service over the phone which method they use: You’ll save hundreds or thousands of dollars when you find a service that uses the “cutting” approach.  Just remember: if a particular ice dam removal service does not use this approach, then they simply aren’t the “pros” they claim to be.

I hope this “top-5” list serves as a checklist for you when you’re researching ice dam removal services, and for when you’re on the phone with one and trying to determine if it’s the one you’d like to entrust with keeping your home safe and free of ice and leaks.

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Written by on September 25, 2011

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