The following is a list of the 3 most common methods to remove ice dams. You will find a brief summary of each followed by a “pro and cons list” of that particular method and ending with a conclusion of the methods effectiveness.
1. Heating Socks / Roof Melt Pellets
Heating socks and roof melt pellets both use chemical reactions to cause the freezing temperature of water to lower. This, in effect, melts the ice allowing the water to flow out and down to the ground, saving you from the water damage occurring to your roof or, worse yet, inside your house. Consideration when choosing what type of chemicals to use is needed because using the wrong chemicals may cause damage to your roof or stain your roof and painted exterior.
– It is safer then Manual Removal (Read Below) and Steaming (Read Below).
– This method is relatively inexpensive compared to steaming.
– It is easy to do – It takes less labor compared to other methods.
– It can a leave white residue on shingles that will weather off over time.
– The chemicals used can affect paint finishes and corrode metals. So if you have a metal roof or a painted exterior you may take on unwanted damage.
– The chemicals also may have negative affect on the plant life where the chemical tainted water runs off. They may die or turn sickly.
– May not work during times of extreme cold (below zero temperature’s).
– Placement is critical, if you do not place your pellets in a formation that melts the ice and lets water through the dam then your efforts will not help your situation.
Verdict: Heating socks and roof melt pellets are a fairly inexpensive solution for removing dams. It is critical that you place the socks or chemicals in a way that will create a channel through the ice dam so that the water behind the ice dam will be able to run off your roof. If you are unconcerned about the risk of metal corrosion, paint damage, and plant life damage and you also do not want to put forth physical effort to remove your dam then heating socks and roof melt pellets are going to be your choice.
Steaming requires the use of a steaming machine and a source of flowing water to supply the machine. One must climb on the roof with the steam wand and connected hose in an attempt to “under cut” the dam into sections. Most ice dam removal companies will use this method because of how easy it is in terms of how much labor is needed to get the job done and how safe it is for keeping your roof in good condition.
– This is the most effective and thorough method for removing ice dams.
– There is almost no risk of damaging your roof or house.
– The equipment is very expensive. A steamer can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.
– Hiring a company that uses steaming is also very expensive.
– It can be very dangerous to be climbing and walking on icy roofs.
– This method can take the longest to perform because of the setup time.
Verdict: Steaming is the most effective method for removing ice dams because it quickly removes the dam and you run almost no risk of damaging your house. If you have the money to buy a steam machine and know of a few friends who could borrow it for their own ice dams then you could justify purchasing one. Collectively you would all spend less money compared to hiring a company to remove all the ice dams. Steaming can also be dangerous so that may rule it out for many people. If so, one may consider hiring an ice dam removal company to use their steamers to remove the dam.
The manual removal of ice dams involves the use of blunt or sharp tools to chip, shatter, and break the ice from your roof. Usually a person will stand on a ladder while using their tools of choice. One may also stand on the roof if the pitch will allow it. It is not necessary to remove the whole dam because one only needs to make a channel for water to flow through. Though, full removal will make it unlikely for one to have to make many attempts to open up and channel for water to flow through.
– It works and it works fast.
– Most effective per dollar spent on removing ice dams.
– You run the risk of damaging your roof.
– It’s very dangerous to be swinging objects up against or on icy roofs.
Verdict: Creating a channel for water to flow through the ice dam by manual removal is the best option for a quick and effective method to mitigate the damaging effect of the ice dam. If one is careful not to damage the roof and is willing to take the safety risk than physical removal is going to be your best choice. Its more effective and less expensive than heating socks / chemicals and definitely less expensive than steaming.