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3 Common Ice Dam Removal Ripoffs

Call us at 1-800-423-3267 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®.

Ice dams on your roof are enough to worry about: they endanger your home.  Unfortunately, you also have to worry about getting ripped off by unscrupulous or incompetent ice dam removal companies.

They know that your ice dam problem is severe enough that you will hire an ice dam removal service, and that the only question is whether you’ll pick their company or another one.  They’ll say whatever it takes to get their feet in the door.

Here are 3 tell-tale signs of a potential rip-off:

Ripoff Tip-off #1 - Really low ratesWarning Sign #1.  Suspiciously low rates.  Some ice dam companies may quote you prices that sound good at first, but what they don’t tell you is that they charge by the man-hour.  This means that even though their rates sound like a great deal over the phone, they’ll probably have 3 guys on your roof and charge you for each hour each guy spends.  It ends up costing you several hundred dollars per man-hour (adding up to much more than it would have cost you to hire a pro that simply charges by the hour, not the man-hour).  Professional ice dam removal companies are honest and transparent about their rates.  Ice dam removal is expensive—and anyone who tries to make it sound cheap is either completely inexperienced or about to rip you off.

Another reason for abnormally low rates is that the ice dam removal company might be using nothing more than a hot-water pressure washer, various salt products or primitive tools, like hammers, hatchets, chisels, or even torches.  Not only will these methods damage your roof, but using such practices will almost certainly void your homeowner’s insurance. They may be able to charge less, but it’s because they don’t worry about investing in the proper equipment (steamers). And let’s not forget about the proper liability insurance, workman’s comp insurance, training their technicians, etc.  The best way to sniff out this dangerous rip-off over the phone is to check whether or not the ice dam removal service uses only steam (250 degrees or higher).  If they don’t use steam, do yourself a favor and end the call: do not let them try to sell you on their alternative methods.

Ripoff Tip-off #2 - Promising specific number of hours to remove ice damsWarning Sign #2.  Promising to remove the ice dams in a specific number of hours.  It’s impossible to do this over the phone.  Why?  Because the ice on your roof is almost always completely blanketed in snow.  There’s no way to tell how much ice is on your roof or how tough the ice will be to remove until you actually get on the roof and remove the snow.

Imagine a layer of ice along the edge of your roof that you can clearly see from the ground.  That layer of ice may go back towards the peak of your roof only a couple of feet or so.  On the flip-side it may also crawl fifteen feet or more up the pitch of your roof.  The moral of the story?  It’s impossible to estimate the size of an ice dam (or how long it will take to remove it) without first removing the thick layer of snow covering it – or without the aid of your x-ray goggles you recently found near the bottom of your favorite cereal box.

In general, if you’re quoted a “guaranteed” number of hours over the phone, one of five bad things will happen when the ice dam removers actually get to your home:

1.  They won’t even show up.  We get close to a hundred calls every winter from homeowners who are infuriated that the other ice dam company didn’t show up.  We make it a point to ask what the other company was charging, and almost always the answer is that their rates were suspiciously cheap.  The bottom line here is cheap rates almost always spell trouble.

2.  They won’t be able to 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 claim that your roof is a “special case” and that they didn’t foresee having quite so much ice on top of one roof—and that they’ll need even more time and money to melt it all.

3.  They won’t remove the ice dams on-time, and will ask that you pay them even more to finish the job.  So much for only paying for the “guaranteed” number of hours!

4.  They’ll hustle to get the job done by cutting corners—and potentially damaging your shingles in the process.  They’ll go too quickly and won’t be able to exercise caution.

5.  Instead of removing the entire ice dam(s) they will simply melt channels through the buildup of ice to relieve the standing water behind the ice dam(s).  They will claim that this is standard practice in the ice dam removal industry, but this is a lie.  The only time this method should be considered is around March when both daytime and nighttime temperatures are above freezing.  If nighttime temperatures fall below freezing, these channels can completely freeze up again in as little as 24 hours—requiring you to fork over additional cash for even more ice dam removal in the near future.

Ripoff Tip-off #3 - Free estimatesWarning Sign #3.  Free estimates.  Anyone who offers free estimates is an amateur—someone who wants to make a quick buck on ice dam removal in the winter because his or her main line of business hasn’t been doing so well.

Experienced ice dam removers know that they can only provide an estimate of time once they see the full extent of the ice dams—which requires clearing all the snow first.

Anyone who gives you a free estimate either doesn’t know better or is just trying to get his foot in the door by telling you what you want to hear.  They’ll give you a surprisingly low estimate of time and then after they’ve climbed up on the roof and removed your snow they’ll come back down and tell you that the ice dams are much bigger than they thought.  They’ll tell you that there was a lot of ice underneath the snow and they couldn’t see it until after they removed the snow (which is of course always true).

You may think this makes perfect sense and give them the go-ahead to complete the extra work.  But they knew from the very beginning that they wouldn’t be able to tell how big the ice dams were until they actually removed the snow; it’s a classic case of low-balling you.  The moral of the story?  Don’t trust “free estimates”—ever.

In general, if you think it sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right.  When you’re choosing an ice dam removal service, don’t shy away from asking a lot of questions, or saying no to a company that gives off any of these 3 warning signs: your home and your finances demand nothing less.

Written by on December 11, 2011

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