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Can You Remove Ice Dams from a Glass Roof?

Yes: It is possible to remove ice dams from a glass roof.  It’s just tricky and dangerous.  It’s another example of how ice dam removal is a skill.

We were reluctant to do our first glass roof, but our customer said that she had called every other ice dam removal company in the Twin Cities.  Nobody else would do it.  We decided to save the day. We sent our best guy at the time: Ted.

Ted went out and looked at the roof.  It had a 4/12 pitch.  One side was shingled.  The other side was all glass.  He’d never seen anything like it.  It was beautiful but dangerous.

And of course, Ted couldn’t just go blasting a bunch of hot steam over the cold glass.  That might have cracked or shattered it.

The nice thing about our customized steamers is that we can turn the temperature way down when needed.  Ted turned his steamer down almost as low as he could.  At this point his steamer produced nothing more than a steady flow of low-pressure lukewarm water.  Then he climbed the shingled side of the roof and sat down on the peak of the roof.  He proceeded to squirt lukewarm water down the side of the roof.

On any normal roof you don’t want to use water, but on this glass roof it was the only safe method.  He took it slow and steady (melting only inches of ice at a time, working his way from the ends towards the middle) and watched the ice slowly melt away, leaving a clean and undamaged glass roof behind.

The process was nerve-racking for Ted.  The whole time he was afraid that a big chunk of ice would break loose, go sliding down the roof, and scratch, crack, or break the glass.  In fact, at one point he even had to stop.  He saw the customer peering up at him from beneath her glass roof (i.e., inside the house looking up), fascinated and elated by everything he was doing.

Ted recognized the hazard, but our customer didn’t recognize his hand signals. (Ted should have been a ball player!)  So he had to come down from the roof and ask her to move as far away from the glass as she could.  She hadn’t realized the danger, but fortunately there weren’t any accidents.

Once you start up our steamers you can’t stop them even for a minute, or they’ll freeze up.  That happened here, so Ted had to come back to the shop for a new steamer.  But this time, the customer didn’t mind a bit.  She felt completely responsible for our machine freezing up, and although we weren’t going to charge her for the several hours it took to swap out steamers, she insisted on paying us for every minute we spent working on removing her ice dam, including the extra time Ted spent swapping out steamers.  As the owner, I insisted that Ted kept this extra payment as a tip.

All ended well with this glass roof.  But it could have turned out differently.  If you’ve got a glass roof, be confident your ice dam removal company has a Ted.


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