Please take a few minutes to read Ice Dam Guys® policies. We want you to be surprised only at how easy we are to work with. All other surprises are worth avoiding.
Though we couldn’t find a brief way to say what they are and to explain the thinking behind them, we’ve tried to put our policies as plainly as possible. You may be surprised at what an easy read this is.
Our Hourly Rate. Although our hourly rate fluctuates (based upon a plethora of variables), most commonly we charge $575.00 per hour for our standard service.
We do not have travel or trip charges. However, our clock starts as soon as we arrive on-site, and continues until we’re completely packed up and ready to leave.
Our typical job starts with a quick but thorough consultation by one of our technicians. After he has assessed what work must be done, he will personally shovel enough snow off your roof to (1) expose the whole ice dam, and to (2) create a clear and safe place to stand. He will then find your water spigot (and will thaw it if it’s frozen), set up ladders, unravel hoses, de-antifreeze the steamer and begin to steam the ice dams off your roof safely. All of that is part of the job, so we must bill you for it at the hourly rate we quoted you.
We have at least a 2-hour minimum for each job. Beyond our minimum charge, you will be in total control of how long our tech spends “on the clock.” You can have him remove as much (or as little) snow and ice as you’d like. Once the minimum charge is met, we bill in 5-minute increments. Note: Our minimum charge changes constantly throughout the season, as temperatures, snow-cover, and ice fluctuate. We are constantly managing expectations by assessing how long our average job is taking and adjusting our minimum.
If you’d like additional snow removed by your technician while he’s on-site, we can do it at the quoted rate for ice dam removal. We need to charge the same rate for snow removal as we do for ice dam removal, because that’s time our ice dam removal technicians could otherwise spend removing an ice dam. We need to help homeowners who need us, and use our skill-sets to the fullest.
Clearing snow always carries some risk to your rooftop. Though unlikely, it is possible to scrape off a shingle, tear a shingle, etc. We shovel your roof with the utmost caution, but a shingle (or shingle tab) may tear off if the roofing installer misplaced it even slightly, or if ice under a shingle caused it to be slightly raised. Irregular shingles rarely are visible to human eyes even under the best of circumstances, let alone when they’ve been battered by snow and ice, as well as our technicians’ eyes being battered by snow and ice. Also, if a shingle has been warped by the sun, by a defect, or by Father Time, it may protrude and tear as a shovel glides over it. Skylights and vents can also protrude and catch a shovel. As infrequently as those minor damages are, they’re oftentimes unavoidable. Shoveling a snow-covered, icy rooftop is tricky business. In other words, some damage may be unavoidable. Our company, Ice Dam Guys®, is not liable in any way for shingles that might catch our shovels, though we will be as careful and gentle with your rooftop as humanly possible.
Clearing ice always carries some risk to your rooftop. There is a small chance that steam will discolor your shingles. When this happens, it is almost always a result of roof algae (gloeocapsa magma), roof lichen (a fungus), and everyday dirt and grime. Keep in mind that in the process of steaming ice off of your roof, our steam also cleans your shingles (to one extent). One upshot of our thoroughness is that we leave squeaky-clean shingles wherever we’ve removed ice from. That means your home is safe from the ice dam we removed, but it may also mean fewer granules. That’s unavoidable. Despite the claims of dishonest ice dam removal companies, whenever you spray steam or water (no matter the pressure) you may lose some granules. Even rain washes granules from your shingles, which is why you may have seen granules in your gutters. Of course, other activities, like walking on your roof, raking your roof (yes, even with the proper roof rake), and hail will also cost you some granules. In other words, some damage may be unavoidable. Our company, Ice Dam Guys®, is not liable in any way for shingles that might become discolored or have fewer granules as a result of our services. Some cosmetic damage to your roof may be unavoidable in the process of saving your home from an ice dam.
Our Minimum Charge. On the off-chance we can remove your ice dams in less than our minimum charge (very rare), we will most often times stay onsite and spend the remaining time on other work that would benefit your home (if there’s other work available), like clearing more snow from your roof. On the off-chance there isn’t any extra work to be done in the remaining minutes, you will still be billed for the minimum hours. We know how that sounds, but consider the alternative: we dropped everything and drove (without a trip charge) to what ended up being a very small job. Hopefully, the leak (or danger) has been alleviated, and you found our service of value.
Each job also involves some reverse setup, which we need to charge for. After completing the ice dam removal and any snow removal, our tech will prepare the steamer for travel by refilling it with antifreeze and circulating it for several minutes. At that point, he will take down his ladder(s), reel up his hoses, and pack everything securely in his truck in preparation for travel. He will remove any snow that has fallen onto your driveway, sidewalk, front stoop, etc. Your technician may also apply a light coating of ice melt to any flat surfaces that became wet or icy during the steaming process. We don’t always apply ice melt: It depends on the ambient temperature, as well as the severity of the slipperiness and type of surface. Feel free to request ice melt if you feel it’s needed. We do our best to minimize the slipperiness of your property, but we’re not responsible for any ice or water on your property after completion of your job, so please use caution. Excess runoff of melted ice and condensed steam is something one simply cannot control or avoid. Remember: the ground is frozen and water will not be soaked up by Mother Earth, but rather will run to the lowest point. We have no control over that law of nature.
Note: We are not responsible for potential damage caused to your substrate (e.g., concrete, asphalt, paver stones, etc.) by the use of ice melt products.
If you want to deal with the piles of snow on the ground yourself, please let your technician know before he removes the piles himself at our regular ice dam removal rates. Again, we consider that to be just part of the job, so we’ll rely on you to tell us if you don’t want us to relocate the snow that we removed from your roof. We usually consider snow and ice left on your deck – or other areas not frequented by foot traffic – to be tolerable. Therefore, we don’t remove it unless you ask us to. If you’d like us to remove excess snow and/or chunks of ice within areas that tend not to receive foot-traffic during the winter months – like the deck – please tell your technician where you’d like the snow removed from before he clocks out and completes your invoice.
Ice dam removal can be messy. Siding, brick, stucco, windows, doors, decks, etc. (that is, anything on the exterior of your home or neighboring homes) could be left spattered. Although our process is gentle, water and steam still ricochet all over the place as we steam-away the ice on your rooftop. Also, the splatter can be grimy, because the ice we are melting from your rooftop may be embedded into dirty shingles or gutters (especially if your gutters are full of debris). We have no control over where that splatter or runoff goes, or the dirt it leaves behind (and even more so on windy days).
After those wrap-up / clean-up items are done, our Ice Dam Guys® tech will stop “the clock” and will prepare your final invoice and request payment. Our technicians can’t leave the job site until they’ve been paid, so please make yourself available in-person or by phone once we’ve completed your job.
Should you force us to wait on-site for payment, we will have no choice but to bill you for that time. That is time we could have used for another project. We’re here to help people who need us and to make a living along the way, and we assume you’d like to get on with your day as well. This is an emergency-based business, so minutes matter. Please be available for final payment.
If your project is not finished by day’s end, we will still collect payment for that day’s work before leaving. Why? Because you may change your mind prior to the following day and decide that what we’ve completed thus far is “good enough.” That does happen sometimes, believe it or not. Also, your technician may already be scheduled for another appointment the following morning, therefore we may have to send someone else to finish up your project. Collecting payment prior to leaving each job keeps things clean and uncomplicated for us and for you.
Don’t assume your insurance company will cover any of the costs (though they may). A growing number of insurance companies seem to be reimbursing (or partially reimbursing) our customers for ice dam removal, but we can’t guarantee it, and you should not assume it. What your insurance company does is out of our control. Any reimbursement you get is gravy, because most insurance companies still refuse to pay for ice dam removal (a fact we don’t like any more than you do).
Part of the problem is most insurance companies evolve at a glacial pace. They’re somewhere between the abacus and the CD-ROM. One result of that is they’re still new to the idea of using steam to remove ice dams. Many of them – especially the smaller companies – will claim the rates for steam-only ice dam removal are “too high.” What they don’t know is why good companies need to charge a decent amount, but that’s another topic.
Although we do work for several insurance companies (hired by them directly), we will not work indirectly with them. We need to spend our time helping customers who need us, and not haggling with insurance companies.
That’s a long way of saying we will provide you with a copy of your invoice, and the rest is up to you. Any issues you have are between you and your insurance company, NOT between us and your insurance company.
Working from a ladder is not ideal, but some roofs are simply too unsafe or too steep to stand on. In those situations we may be forced to work from a ladder. Safety (of our technicians and your home) is priority #1.
How much ice and snow we remove
Don’t want to see Ice Dam Guys® again any time soon? We understand why: Ice dams are a pain, and they’re expensive to remove. But…they’re even more of a pain if they return shortly after we’re gone.
Unless we remove ALL the snow and ice from your roof, there’s a very real chance you’ll need to call us back in a few days or weeks because the leaks have continued or you’ve got new leaks. (That’s the hard reality even if your technician seems to say a partial job is OK.) So you need to consider two basic options: (1) get the least amount of ice and snow removed and risk more ice dams and leaks soon, or (2) spend more now to get a clear roof and minimize the risk of future problems.
As with most trade-offs you need to decide on, you’ve got options on opposite ends of the spectrum, and few other options in the middle. Here are your options for exactly how much ice and snow to have removed:
Option 1 (best option): Remove all the snow and ice on your home, including on the garage.
Option 2: Remove all the snow and ice on your home, but not on the garage.
Option 3: Remove all the snow and ice on your overhangs, and on your roof valleys (if present).
Option 4: Remove all the snow and ice only on the overhangs and roof valleys on the side of the house that’s leaking.
Option 5: Remove only the snow and ice directly above the leaking part of your home. This approach does not always work, because the ice dam causing you problems is not always near the leak. Also, this approach can lead to additional ice dams in the same (or another place) soon after we leave (sometimes as soon as the very next day). For those reasons, we usually don’t recommend this option.
Please know that safe ice dam removal is a methodical and almost-surgical process. To safely remove any amount of ice takes longer than it would if we didn’t have the health of your home in mind. In that way, safe ice dam removal is more expensive – though in the long run it’s far cheaper than the alternatives.
A few things you can expect, and a few things we expect
We work only as long as you authorize. This means, for one thing, that if you approve a certain number of hours but we can’t reach you when that time is up, we’ll have to decide on our own whether we should wrap-up and leave your project unfinished, or do what best for your home and hope you agree that we made the right decision. Although you are bound by the decision we make, that’s a horrible position for you to put us in, so you must agree to be available throughout your entire project.
Please keep an eye on the clock. Your Ice Dam Guys® technician is focused on removing your ice dam safely and efficiently, and may lose track of time. You decide how long we spend on your roof. If you can’t reach him by phone, please flag down your technician from the ground.
We can only make educated guesses as to how long your project will take. Your job may take longer than anyone expects. Until your technician removes the snow covering your ice dam(s) he has no idea how long your project may take. Therefore, no matter what his “guesstimate” of time your project may take is, it may very well be wildly inaccurate and is purely based on opinion, not fact. Once the snow is removed (and he’s had a bit of time to begin steaming through the ice) he will then know how thick the ice is, how far up the roof your ice dam stretches, whether it’s soft/white ice or hard/black ice, how difficult the areas are to reach, along with a plethora of other findings will become known. It is then and only then that a guesstimate of time can be remotely accurate (and even then things can change as he makes his way through your project). The best advice is to check-in with your technician early and often, and to expect changes and new discoveries along the way.
Ice dams may quickly redevelop after you have them removed, especially if you stopped us short of removing “all” the ice and snow from your roof. The less snow and ice you allow us to remove, the greater your chances are of a reoccurring ice dam yet this season. Even if you chose for us to remove all of the snow and ice from your roof, you still must keep your roof snow-free enough to avoid more ice dams.
How long your roof snow and ice removal may have taken in the past is in no way an indication of how long it will take subsequently. The conditions change constantly. Ice dam removal on the same house could be wildly different from year to year.
Ice dam removal is a SLOW process when done safely, as is shoveling copious amounts of snow while navigating a slippery roof. It is hard work and doesn’t go as quickly as many people think. So please don’t remark that your job “took too long” only after we’ve completed our work and made your home safe. Also, please do not stop us early and then claim that we “didn’t even finish the job.” Or…allow us to finish your project and then be disappointed that we didn’t send a small army of technicians (like other companies, you would have been paying per man-hour, and you would not be happy). We work as hard and as safely as humanly possible, all while trying to protect your home, as well as your wallet.
Our technicians maintain the right to refuse any project they don’t feel safe and/or comfortable completing. The safety of our technicians is our number one priority! Allowing our technicians to refuse or walk away from any project(s) without being subject to penalty or disciplinary actions is just one way we make sure our techs go home to their families each and every night. Although we “rarely” refuse a project (or are unable to complete a project), please be understanding when we do.
Any snow and ice removed from your roof will end up near the foundation of your home. If you’d like to us to commit additional hours to have that snow and ice moved, please let your technician know.
The photos our technicians take are not turned in until the end of our season, and so can’t be traced back to your project and sent to you.
Help us help keep your home safe and tidy
Try to be home. If possible, please be present while we remove your ice dams, so that you can look for and alert us to any water that might leak into your home – particularly into the basement. Although that very rarely happens (less than 1% of jobs), it is a problem that can be avoided or minimized by your presence.
With ice dam removal often comes many gallons of water (melted ice and condensing steam) pouring down your roof. That can pose a problem if your yard has poor grading (like a negative grade sloping towards the foundation of your house), no gutters or clogged gutters, leaky egress windows, cracks in your foundation, etc. Even with the proper grade, nearby piles of snow can trap water next to your foundation. That can cause water to pool or flow adjacent to your foundation and sometimes cause leaks into your home.
Be on the lookout for water leaks. Please keep a watchful eye out for water leaks in your home. Our safe, steam-only ice dam removal is the best way to stop water from leaking through your shingles. But sometimes in the process, existing leaks get worse before they get better. We are not liable for any interior water damage to your home. We recommend you stay home while we remove the ice dam, so you can keep an eye on your interior. We can remove your ice dam even if you aren’t home, but because we can’t be two places at once, you’ll need to be home if you want to keep us posted on any interior leaking.
Be aware of potential icy patches. Please also be aware of any icy or slippery patches on your property. Some may predate our arrival on-site. Others may be the unavoidable result of the many gallons of water from melted ice and condensing steam, or of flat surfaces that naturally pool water (possibly caused by the surrounding snow acting as a dam).
We can chisel away the ice, but we’ll have to bill you for it at the quoted rate for ice dam removal. We’d prefer not to do that for two reasons: (1) that would be the most expensive chiseling since Michelangelo was commissioned to carve David, and (2) because of the possibility that we might damage an underlying surface, for which we cannot take responsibility for.
We can apply ice-melt to icy patches if you ask us to – or we might need to do it anyway. But when ice is several inches thick, ice-melt only helps so much. So please expect icy patches and use extreme caution. Icy patches are an aspect of ice dam removal that we can’t control. Be prepared to purchase and apply sand and/or additional ice melt after we’ve left.
Tell us if anything valuable is under the snow. If you have any items of value that might be buried in the snow surrounding your home, please tell your ice dam technician about those items before he begins your project. Examples of “items of value” might include a deck, a playground, patio furniture, a doghouse, a hot tub, a BBQ grill, small garden structures, etc. In most cases these items (and others) are the least of your worries. In the event they do worry you, please make them known to us, and ask us to relocate them for you. If possible, we’re happy to do so.
Unless you’ve memorized your pre-existing driveway stains like the back of your hand, please don’t assume we caused your driveway stains. Though it never happens, is it possible we add a beauty mark or two to your driveway? Yes, theoretically it’s possible. But we’re not klutzes, and we didn’t buy our trucks from Mr. Haney of Green Acres Farm. Even if we did spill a drop, we’d see it in the snow and steam it off on the spot. In any event, we are not responsible for any driveway stains.
To save you time and money, typically we carve large blocks of ice off your roof and let them fall to the ground, rather than melt the entire ice dam from the top-down (which would take many, many additional hours). We call that the chunk-cutting technique. Although we do that as safely as possible, those blocks of ice can weigh several hundred pounds and can crush anything they land on (including shrubbery).
Typically your deck has enough snow on it to cushion the blow from large chunks of ice falling on it (and shrubs are the least of your worries when dealing with a leak caused by ice dams). But…if that’s a risk you’re not willing to take (or your shrubs happen to be family heirlooms you’re not willing to sacrifice), please ask your technician to melt the ice slowly from the top-down when he’s removing ice over your deck. Or you can tell him not to use the “chunk-cutting technique” over the deck. Again, doing so will take us much longer and will end up costing more, but it is your call.
What you’re not paying for
Time spent driving to and from your home or business.
Machine breakdown and any time it takes to repair it.
Time it takes to complete your invoice.
Time it takes to acquire additional fuel, should we run out.
Smoke or coffee breaks. (Don’t laugh: other companies may bill you for those.)
Bathroom breaks (also known as any time your technician has to leave the job-site in a hurry).
If you invite us in for hot chocolate and cookies. We can’t let you pay for that!
Our movie-star smiles and rustic charm.
Thanks for reading through all of that. We hope it makes our processes clear, and answers any questions you might have. But if you still have questions, please contact us or call us at 1-800-ICE-DAMS.