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Commercial Ice Dam Removal and Residential Ice Dam Removal: What’s the Difference?

We, Ice Dam Guys®, do both kinds of jobs.  An ice dam can do just as much damage to a business as it can to a home.  In fact, sometimes business owners have even more at stake, because a leak and the hulking ice dam on the roof can disrupt the normal flow of operations and result in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

The differences are significant. Residential ice dam removal typically involves working on a pitched, shingled roof with overhangs, valleys, gutters, and downspouts.  In contrast, most commercial roofs are flat.  It could be metal, asphalt, or rubber. There are pitched commercial roofs, but they tend to be metal, and a pitched metal roof is one of the most dangerous types of roofs we work on.

Instead of gutters, most commercial buildings have “scuppers,” which in effect is an outlet on the edge of the building that allows the water to drain and run straight down the side of the building.  Scuppers can create serious ice buildup on the side of a building.

Commercial buildings typically have much smaller overhangs, or sometimes no overhangs at all.  Ice can tumble right down the side of the building, without any clearance.

Probably the biggest difference isn’t structural: it’s that a commercial building typically has many more people (and vehicles) coming and going in a given day.  Even if customers don’t come in and out of the building constantly, workers do.

Therefore, every commercial building gets a guy on the ground called “the spotter.”  Sometimes you’ll have several spotters, if you’ll got several entrances and exits. They guard the door and have a radio.  They can radio up to the roof to ensure that work stops long enough for people to get into or out of the building safely.

The spotter also fuels the steamer, because it’s harder to get off and on the roof on a commercial job.

Of course, the jobs are also typically bigger than residential jobs.   That’s why sometimes we send multiple steamers out to commercial jobs, which we rarely do on a residential, single-family-home ice dam removal job. 

Despite those differences between commercial and residential ice dam removal, the goal is the same: remove the ice dam safely and protect you property.  Just as competent ice dam removal is part of taking care of your home, it’s also an investment in your business if you have ice dams.  Sure, it’s another expense, but you should be able to write it off, and with the right help you won’t have to worry about scaring away customers or seeing one of them in court because of a freak accident.  Your due diligence here matters as much as ever, and make sure your ice dam removal company carries the one type of insurance that will protect you.

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