Please wait ...
View Full SiteView Mobile Site

Why Does Ice Dam Removal Cost So Darn Much?

Call us at 1-800-423-3267 if you have an ice dam on your roof and live anywhere ice dams may form. 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 dam removal expenses: the short version

Here’s the VERY short answer as to why ice dam removal costs so much: it costs us a bundle, including because of the following reasons:

  1. Short Season.  The average ice dam season is typically only 2-8 weeks per year. 
  2. InsuranceProper liability & work comp insurance for ice dam removal is wildly expensive.  
  3. Equipment.  Steamers are expensive to purchase (especially our steamers), as well as to maintain.
  4. Danger.  Climbing an icy ladder to walk on an icy roof is a chest-hair-growin’ activity.
  5. Labor.  Wages reflect the danger, extreme seasonality, and around-the-clock realities of the job.
  6. Advertising.  Advertising costs multiply like rabbits during the peak season.  It’s common to see ad costs that are 25x (or more) higher than non-peak-season costs.  If we told you what the ads cost, you wouldn’t believe us!
  7. Fuel. Steamers are inherently fuel guzzlers.

Below we explain each of those expenses more, and we list and explain even more expenses.  You can click on any of the above links to jump down to a specific section, or you can read on while we tie it all together.

Ice dam removal expenses: the director’s cut

Some mechanics charge you big money to replace your drive shaft, replace your alternator, fix your alignment, and throw in an oil change.  Other mechanics charge you big money to idle your car for 2 minutes, replace your little pine tree air freshener, and top off your “blinker fluid.”

Companies charge different rates for very different reasons.  Honest companies don’t often sound great over the phone (“You’re whacking me HOW much?”).  That means the downside of an honest company is obvious right away: Every single honest company charges more than anyone would like.  Where it gets tricky is that some of the crooked companies also charge a lot.

That’s how it is in ice dam removal, too.  There’s always a catch, whether it’s with a company that is cheap for good reason, or with a company that charges you for prosciutto but serves you baloney.  In either case, you won’t know the catch until you’ve paid for it.  These ice dam companies may hit you with hidden costs, like charging you “per worker.”  Or they damage your shingles because they don’t use fully adjustable steamers, or even steamers at all.  Or they put Moe, Larry, and Curly on your roof.  Or they do an incomplete job and leave you with a leaky, or soon-to-be leaky home.  Or they don’t carry the proper insurance.  Or they use the inefficient, sloppy “top-down” steaming technique and charge you for many more hours of so-called work than if they used the safer and more-efficient chunk-cutting steaming technique.

That’s only a partial list of schemes, of course.  Bad ice dam companies think up new scams and gimmicks faster than we can get a make on them.  You’ll get wise to the trick that pulled you in right around the time you sign on the dotted line and write the check, or sometime after they leave and you hear a “drip…drip…drip” when you should instead be counting sheep.

Both cheap bad companies and pricey bad companies take a calculated risk: They figure you won’t notice the bait-and-switch, or that you simply won’t care because you’re too darn busy to argue and/or dispute the bill.  If they’re a fly-by-night company and things go very wrong, at least they’re not liable if your home looks like it angered King Kong or if the technician bounces off of your frozen yard and into traction.

We’ve probably talked enough about why and how dishonest companies’ service is so expensive, especially in hidden costs.  Now, why are honest companies’ rates so expensive?  Here are all of the most significant expenses our ice dam removal rates need to cover:

1. The shortness of the ice dam season.  At the top of the page we summarized our main expenses, and below we describe all of those plus even more.  Those expenses are extra costly for us because we invest in all of it and use it for somewhere between 2 weeks and 8 weeks out of the year.  That’s weeks, not months.  We push in several towers of poker chips for a chance at a season that will last a few weeks.  We could (and would in a heartbeat) slash our prices if you could hire us for ice dam removal in May and July and then again around Labor Day.  But that’s not in the cards, so we’re forced to charge a rate that’s higher than either of us would like.

2. Insurance for every technician, and even more insurance for the company. We’re talking about workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, umbrella policies to beat the band, bonding, and probably even some additional insurance policies that only our accountant remembers.  Sometimes I feel like Oprah: “You get insurance, and you get insurance, and you get insurance….”  Although it’s expensive for us, we hope it translates to peace of mind for you.

3. Equipment, particularly our steam-blasters.  It wasn’t cheap to build up our fleet of custom steamers, which safely and reliably heat and spray 250F+ steam in subzero temperatures for hours. One could put a minivan full of kids through college – and that’s just from the cost of buying the bloody things.  That doesn’t even count the costs of customizing them from stem to stern.

4. The danger factor. Climbing an icy ladder to walk on an icy roof is a chest-hair-growin’ activity. It never gets less deserving of caution. Finding the right people, training them on the right SOPs, providing them with the right equipment, and making sure they’ll do the job for you the right way when you need them to do it, takes a serious financial commitment.  The Moe, Larry & Curly ice dam company makes no such commitment to you.

5. Finding and training technicians and paying them fairly.  That’s after taking great pains to find the kinds of guys who even can be properly trained. It takes our 20+ years of removing ice dams professionally to train new technicians. If you saw how many job applicants we need to reject to find the guy you want on your roof, you’d compare us to Attila the Hun.  Fortunately for us, all you see is the end result: a well-trained, competent, polite professional who gets the job done safely and doesn’t steal your silverware.

6. Exorbitant advertising costs. The costs multiply like rabbits during the peak season.  It’s common to see ad costs that are 25x (or more) higher than non-peak-season costs.  In the end, we may get the last laugh when we walk past those advertising “professionals” stuck outside of the Pearly Gates, but in this life we just need to grin and bear it.

7. Fuel for the steamers: Diesel for the burner, and unleaded for the engine.  The alternative used by many companies is electricity for the pump (which later shows up on your electric bill) and kerosene for the burner.  Either way, steamers are diesel/kerosene hogs.

8. Gas for our trucks. We may have traveled a great distance to bring you the finest ice dam removal service in the US.

9. Maintaining our steamers. They were expensive enough to buy, but we also need to maintain them for 10-11 months out of the year, just so that they’re in fighting shape for the few weeks a year we may need them.  Maintaining a fleet of gas engines, batteries, diesel-fired burners, etc. is an enormous amount of work.  Having this type of equipment sit like paperweights for many months is a very tricky situation.  If you’re not serious about maintenance, fuel lines get clogged, oil gets old, rubber hoses rot, metal lines rust, gauges stick, sensors go bad, battery cells degrade and terminals corrode, and humidity and Father Time can gnaw away at just about any other component.  Fresh parts, spare parts, storage space, climate control, and our mechanics’ expertise and labor are major expenses.

10. Our trucks.  Most ice dam companies send a laborer in a leaky manure mobile to your home. The only fine truck in the fleet is the one the boss double-parks at Five Guys.  As with all of our equipment, we’re meticulous about maintaining our technicians’ trucks, and a 4×4 is often required.  Our trucks aren’t always shiny and new, but they are all reliable.  Also, when things become extremely busy, we’ll rent trucks.  We do whatever is needed to get your job done right and done when you need it.

11. Licenses and Registration.  Not only do we have a General Contractor’s license to keep current, but we also have a floor-to-ceiling stack of state-filing fees with just about every state in the northern 1/3 of the United States  We’ve also got to keep our SAM certification up-to-date, which enables us to complete jobs for the U.S. Government. All of those rules all of those fees mean it always feels like Tax Day around here.

12. Overhead.  We need office staff to take your calls and schedule appointments, operations staff to keep each technician landing on the right runway in the right airport, website and marketing specialists to help you find us when you need us, and a place that keeps the rain off our heads and the mice away from our feet.  All of our technicians wear sharp, professional, yet warm and functional uniforms.  All of our techs also drive a truck full of equipment, with 2 of most pieces of gear (in case something breaks).

We spend 10-11 months a year preparing for your phone call.  We simply don’t mess around when it comes to “anything” that might stand in the way of us quickly and safely completing your project.  You name it, and you can bet we’ve got two (and sometimes three) of them on your job site, or nearby!

13. Being on-call 24/7 to offer an emergency, on-demand service and pause daily life.  My crew and I love what we do and look forward to your call any time.  But in addition to all of those big tangible costs is the cost of finding the kinds of guys who will temporarily stop building a snowman with their kids to go climb a slippery roof in the dead of winter to remove an ice dam.  My techs need to be available at a moment’s notice at any time day or night, even on Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, National Donut Day, etc.  I ask my entire team to put their lives on hold during the winter.  They choose to do it, and they enjoy their work, but that’s also because they are compensated very well for it.

So those are our main expenses.  Believe it or not, we’ve got even more expenses, but you get the idea.  Safe and timely ice dam removal is still expensive for you, because it’s inherently expensive for us.  But at least now you know what goes into the sausage.

Written by on November 1, 2011

No comments yet. You should be kind and add one!

Leave a Comment

Ice dam emergency? We can help.

Don't take our word for it: Read our testimonials and reviews.

5% Off Deal

Remodeling and Home Design Remodeling and Home Design
Contact - Ice Dam Guys®

Find a Blog Post by Category

Find a Blog Post by Month