We are often asked “How long will it take to remove my ice dams?”. While it may surprise you to hear this, after having removed thousands of ice dams, we still can’t give a definitive answer. Sure, most projects typically take somewhere between 2-6 hours, but that’s a big range. We ask that people send photos of their ice dams so that we can see what is happening. This helps us estimate costs to some degree. Specifically, these photos tell us approximately how long the ice dams are along an eave area. That is great. It’s also important to see what the site conditions are like. Is the job 8 feet or 28 feet off the ground? Will the chunks of ice we are removing fall harmlessly to the ground or is the ice dam located about a glass solarium that will need extensive protection? But even when we are armed with good photos there are still a number of variables that factor into the cost of removing an ice dam, the most important of which is what we call ‘depth’. The depth of an ice dam is the distance it travels up the roof. Study the diagram below. Notice call-out (A). This distance is in fact the most important factor in determining how long it takes to remove an ice dam (aside from it’s length, of course). Slicing through a 12″ thick ice dam is no big deal if it’s only 12″ deep. If it’s 24″ deep, that’s a totally different story.
The depth, or how far up the roof the ice has grown, is in fact the thing that drives the project time frame more than the thickness. The challenge is that if the ice dam is covered with snow, we can’t see how far up the roof the ice has grown. Only after we shovel the snow back can we get an accurate gauge as to how long the project will take.
Other variables that affect the duration of an ice dam removal job include: Height of work, site access and outdoor temperatures. Most people don’t know this but ice gets significantly harder to cut when it’s really cold out. The character of the ice actually changes and it takes longer to cut, even with the monster commercial steamers we use.
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