We recently visited an ice dam removal project completed by some ice dam removal guys in 2014. What we found was a bit shocking but not unusual. Specifically, there was a tremendous amount of granular loss from the asphalt shingles done during the ice dam removal process. This is exactly what happens when the wrong equipment is used.
It is imperative to understand what equipment should be used for removing ice dams. There are two types of machines commonly used; ice dam steamers and high-temperature pressure washers. This may seem like an esoteric point, but the hiring the wrong ice dam removal guys, i.e., those who use pressure washers, can be a grave mistake and one that is often not noticed until years later. Unless you are quite educated, knowing the difference between a high-temp pressure washer and a steamer is virtually impossible. Adding to the challenge faced by homeowners is the fact that two of the largest ice dam removal companies in Minnesota outright misrepresent the equipment they use. Yes, they lie. They call their machines steamers when in fact they are pressure washers. Here is a link to a deeper discussion on the topic if you are interested. You can also visit the Ice Dam Steaming Association for Education if you would really like to geek out. For the sake of total simplicity, however, there is one very easy question to ask that determines which machine is scheduled to show up at your home for your project:
Does the machine have a triggered gun or not? It’s that simple. If it has a trigger it is a pressure washer. If it doesn’t, it is a steamer. Period.
Attached here is a letter from one of the countries largest ice dam steamer and pressure washer sales company, American Pressure. In a effort to debunk the falsities being spread by greedy and unscrupulous ice dam removal guys, we asked for a clean answer to the trigger question. They have no incentive whatsoever to lie because they sell a ton of both types of equipment.