Have you noticed hanging icicles and extra ice build up developing near the edge of your home? Unfortunately, these may be signs of an ice dam forming. Prolonging the removal of an ice dam can cause problems with your roof shingles, house structure, insulation, and even your health. In this article, we address how to remove an ice dam quickly, and ice dam removal costs.

How do you remove an ice dam?

The first step if you think you have an ice dam is to confirm it. Check out our first article in this three-part blog series on how to identify an ice dam. If you’re positive that your home has an ice dam, you will want to act fast to remove it. In the case that you have to perform an emergency ice dam removal, you will want to be as cautious as possible. It is not recommended you self-remove an ice dam unless you have the proper tools and experience. Performing the removal without the proper equipment can result in injuries to yourself and your roof. Ideally, you don’t want to cause more long-term and expensive damage.

If you’ve come across an ice dam that has to be taken down as soon as possible, here are some tips for moving it on your own:

  • Never walk on a snow covered roof.
  • When using a ladder, follow all precautions and safety procedures.
  • Remove excess snow with a roof rake or a push broom.
  • When removing snow, pull down along the slope of the roof.
  • Chip out a channel in the center of the ice dam so the excess water can drain, but be careful not to puncture a hole in the ceiling.

Other quick fixes

While hacking away at ice dams may seem like a quick fix, it is actually the most dangerous approach for you and your roof. When faced with emergency ice dam removal accompanied by a water leak, it is best to fight it from inside of your home. Take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the part of the roof where the water is actively leaking in. The cold air from the fan will freeze the water and prevent the leaking in just a few minutes.

Another quick fix is attempting to de-ice the ice dam. By taking a calcium chloride ice melter and an old pair of pantyhose, you can melt away the snow and ice. Fill a leg of the pantyhose with the ice melter and lay it on the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs on the gutter. Eventually, this will melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for the water to drain out of.

Ice Dam Removal Cost

While it may seem like a quick job to knock off a chunk of ice, it is actually labor-intensive and could require up to two workers. Most ice dam removal companies charge by the hour because there are many variables to account for, and not every job is the same. Variables impacting ice dam removal cost include:

  • how big the dam is
  • what kind of roof you have
  • how much snow is on the roof
  • how cold it is outside
  • where the ice is located
  • and plenty more factors

Additionally, some companies may even have a minimum charge on all jobs, and/or charge per worker. That said, an average rate to remove an ice dam can be between $300 and $600 per hour. This rate differs based on the company, of course. The Ice Dam Company shares more details on ice dam removal cost.

Remember that removing an ice dam should never be a solo job and should be done with all safety procedures in mind. Ideally, these fixes are only immediate-term ways to stop an ice dam from causing more damage. If you can stop the ice dam momentarily, then you can buy yourself more time to properly remove the ice dam and find a solution for ice dams in the future. Stayed tuned for the next article about finding the cause of your ice dams, and how to prevent future ice dams from forming.