Need Ice Dam Removal? Do Your Homework Before You Hire
You’re probably a little on-guard whenever you buy a car, hire a mechanic, call a plumber, get your carpets cleaned, or consider a credit card. That’s probably saved you a lot of money and heartache over the years. I suggest you use the same caution when there’s an ice dam on your roof and you need someone to remove it.
Most people panic when they’ve got an ice dam. Their roof is leaking and they just want to fix the problem as quickly as possible, before the leaks cause lasting damage.
But you’ll still want to slow down for a few minutes. Use some temporary measures to stave off your leaks and buy enough time to make a sound decision about whom to hire.
Some parts of your due-diligence will be easy. Like when you see a guy up on a roof with a flamethrower.
Ice Dam Guys® techs went to the East Coast to help Massachusetts residents dig their way out of their record-breaking winter (over 9 feet of snow). I saw a news piece about another “company” that was out there removing ice dams in Red Sawx land.
He stood on the roof of someone’s home with a large propane torch, scorching the ice off the roof. He didn’t make the six-o’-clock news because of his stupidity; the wide-eyed reporters actually thought he was removing an ice dam the right way.
He babbled into the microphone about how this was totally safe for anyone who knew what they were doing. What could possibly go wrong!
Two weeks later I saw another news story. A firefighter had been injured in a house fire that had been caused by this very same contractor.
You’ll also get closer to finding the right ice dam removal guys when you consider something that pains me a little to admit: ice dam removal is not rocket science.
It’s hard to do right – as we take pains to do – but any idiot can offer it. And many do.
Right now, for better or for worse, there’s no such thing as an ice dam removal license. Anyone can slap up a GoDaddy website in a matter of a few hours and claim to be a an ice dam removal professional. They come from all walks of life:
“Handymen” like to think they can remove an ice dam with salt pucks and a chisel (or hatchet, sledgehammer, etc.).
Construction workers, roofers, gutter cleaners, and even asphalt guys go on the prowl for a little bit of winter income.
Some unemployed folk would consider your roof more of an adventure than standing in line.
Nobody is legally required to carry insurance, either. Some of them will damage your roof, collect a check, and disappear with their sacks of cash over their shoulder.
It takes a little gumshoeing to tell the phonies from the genuine articles.
Look for experience, knowledge, and dedication.
Don’t go to Craigslist. Don’t just assume Google will show you the best people right away. Dig a little.
Do they have a website, or only a Google Maps page?
Does the website look like a chimpanzee built it?
Is there a lot of info on the website? (By the way, I don’t write all these blog posts because I think you’re fascinated by ice dams. I write because I want to share everything I’ve learned from nearly 2 decades of ice dam removal, so you can draw your own conclusions about what’s best for your home.)
Are they dedicated ice dam removal pros? Do they have a domain name that matches their company name – or are they giving you a @yahoo, @gmail, or @msn.com address? Are you e-mailing email@example.com or are you e-mailing ice dam specialists? (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Go all the way to the bottom of the website. Look at the tiny print on the footer. Does it say it’s an ice dam company, or is the website owned by some other kind of company? Are you even on an ice dam site when you go there?
Go a bit further. Look at their Better Business Bureau ratings. Look at their reviews. What’s the general consensus among customers? Have customers actually reviewed them? Or…do they simply have an A+ rating with nothing else to hang their hat on? Remember, every company starts out with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Call up the company and determine a few things:
- Are they quoting dirt-cheap rates? They’re almost certainly cutting some corners.
- Do they claim to offer free estimates? Wait for the other shoe to fall.
- Are they insured? If you get a bad feeling about doing business with someone, don’t do business with them.
Unless you’d like a guy with a flamethrower on your roof, a burnt firefighter in your house, and news trucks in your driveway, you probably see the need for half an hour of due-diligence before choosing an ice dam removal company.