How to Pick the Right Ice Dam Company
There are only a few ice dam professionals in most major metro areas (Minneapolis included) who really know what they’re doing.
If you’re going to put someone up on your roof you owe it to yourself to make sure they’re the kind of people who can and will get the job done right and safely. I’ve developed a checklist you can use to narrow down whom you might want to work with before you pick up the phone.
Here’s the short version of the checklist:
- Consult the Better Business Bureau
- Check 3rd-party review Sites
- Check the company website
- Check the company’s website name
- Check the company’s email address
- Go to the State Secretary of State Website
- Check whether they have a D-U-N-S Number
- Look at the “About Us” page
If you’d like more detail on each checklist item and how it helps you pick the right ice dam company, read on.
Consult the Better Business Bureau
A good place to start is your prospective ice dam company’s BBB rating. Just make sure you check the date they went into business (or became a member), too. Every business starts with an A+ rating—they only start to lose their rating as complaints come in. Seeing an A+ company that was created in 1996 tells you a lot more than seeing an A+ company created in 2015.
Check 3rd-party review sites
Scour the web.
It’s the only way to get a complete picture of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Look for the good reviews and the bad. You’ll want to check sites like:
- Angie’s List
In 2014 the Better Business Bureau started allowing customers to leave reviews in addition to complaints, so check to see if how the overall rating (e.g. “A+”) squares with the quality of the reviews from customers.
Check the company website
Here you’re looking for content. How much unique, original, non-promotional, ice-dam-specific content is posted on the company’s website?
Is this company trying to help you, or are they just trying to sell you?
Do they strike you as knowledgeable people?
Are you staring at a one-page site with a phone number and not much else? Or is it a wealth of info that answered some of your questions without your needing to pick up the phone?
Do they talk about removing ice dams, or do they also talk about how to prevent ice dams too?
Real and phony companies alike know there’s a good chance you’re in a pinch and won’t take time any time for due diligence. They’re counting on you to be impulsive.
Check the company’s website name
You’re looking for a domain name that is ice-dam-specific. If you’re looking at billybobplumbers.com and it has just one page or just a short blurb on ice dam removal, press “Next.” They are dabblers in ice dam removal – probably plumbers or roofers or gutter guys whose phones have gone quiet in the winter.
Check the company’s email address
You’re looking for an ice-dam-related domain at the end of the name. You don’t want to see a Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or other standard-issue address. Anyone can set up one of those addresses in a matter of minutes. Also, it’s a question of seriousness and of professionalism. Are they too lazy to have set up a website and a company email address?
Go to the State Secretary of State Website
Check to see what the official, State-registered company name is. Does their official DBA have anything to do with ice dams, or are they some other kind of company?
This is also a good time to check and see if the company exists at all. Plenty of people slap up websites without bothering to go through the formalities of registering their business – either because they’re lazy or because they’re fly-by-night. It’s unlikely those people have the right insurance coverage to protect you, either. (You can bet they won’t be any easier to find if you have to file a claim.)
Check whether they have a D-U-N-S number.
Dun & Bradsreet’s D-U-N-S Number identifies a specific business, and lets you pull up basic info on that business. Most credible businesses have a D-U-N-S Number. The ice dam removal company you’re considering should have one, and what you see in its file shouldn’t raise any red flags for you. You can look up D-U-N-S Numbers at dnb.com/duns-number/lookup.html
Look at the “About Us” page.
Business owners tend to talk about their background on this page. Avoid people who talk about their 20 years of plumbing, asphalt-pouring, or whatever non-ice-dam experience they tout. This is probably the most common way companies misrepresent themselves. For example, Billy Bob’s Plumbing will say something like this “Billy Bob’s Ice Dam Removal, in business for 20+ years.” Billy Bob is completely misleading you with this statement. Although he may have truly been in business for 20+ years – doing plumbing – he has not done ice dam removal for 20+ years. Nearly every newbie and phony trying to break into this business adheres to “fake it ‘til you make it!”
You want people who have many years of ice dam removal experience instead, because removing ice dams is a complex, professional job when someone takes the time to do it right. The devil is in the details. Also, it requires special insurance. Unless Billy Bob’s insurance agent knows he’ll be up on a roof steaming away ice instead of sweating under your sink, Billy Bob won’t be covered if something bad happens to you or to him. In the litigious world we now live in, you and your assets might have to pay for Billy Bob’s three months in traction if he slips off your roof. Blinking twice means “Thanks for writing the checks.”
An ice dam situation is hairy enough. Don’t add financial risk to it.
Ice dam removal attracts too many people who want to run a get-rich-quick scheme because there’s no “ice dam removal license,” very little regulation, and very few consumer-advocates. Some people who claim to offer ice dam removal have no clue what they’re doing, and can do a lot of damage. Even worse are companies that use misleading “certifications” to lull customers into false confidence. Working through this checklist is the best way to ensure you get real pros who will get the job done right.