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Ice Dam Removal Cost

The average cost to remove ice dams is $1,000.

In this guide

How do ice dams form?
Why to remove ice dams?
Cost factors
Methods
Labor
Maintenance and prevention
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to remove ice dams?

Ice dams form on the eaves 1 or edges of your home’s roof and are basically walls of ice that don’t allow snow to melt and run off. If left unaddressed, ice dams can wreak havoc and cause significant damage to your property.

Removing ice dams is a home maintenance task that should be done periodically, depending on the climate you live in. Removing an ice dam from the roof costs an average of $1,000.

How do ice dams form?

A warm attic or inadequate ventilation can lead to the formation of ice dams. An ice dam is a ridge or lip of ice that forms on the edge of your roof and which may prevent water from smoothly flowing away. When the water can’t flow through the gutters to the ground, it sets the scenario for water damage to occur, particularly on your roof, ceilings, walls, insulation, and other property inside your home.

When heat is lost from inside the home and the temperatures outside begin to dip, ice dams can begin to form. Add to this poor insulation, mild winter temperatures, and ventilation issues, and ice dams can pose a problem. Know that flat-pitched roofs are more susceptible and deep snow banks or piles can also cause ice to form, due to the inability of water to flow where it needs. It is far easier to periodically remove snow from your roof than to risk the formation of ice dams. Removing up to 12” of snow from a roof costs around $300.

Why to remove ice dams?

It is important to remove ice dams promptly, before water seeps into your roof and causes possible damage to your home. Ice dams may cause roof leaks, which can foster the growth of mold and require subsequent repairs to the roof.

Furthermore, ice dams are dangerous for anyone walking near or under the roof as the ice chunks could potentially fall. Don’t forget that over time the ice can also damage and destroy gutter segments and downspouts. Removing them may become more dangerous if left unattended for too long, as dams may also create long, jagged icicles, which also present a risk. Depending on the type of home you live in, the weight of the ice may even put smaller dwellings, like mobile or manufactured homes, at risk of collapsing.

Cost factors

  • Some factors that influence cost when coping with ice dams is the roof height and pitch. The less pitch (or flatter) the roof, the more chance that the ice will cause damage. This means it may take more time to resolve the issue, which equates to more money. The height of the roof may warrant added safety precautions and preparation, which increases the time your contractor spends on the job, and thus the cost of labor.
  • The outdoor weather and temperatures can also impact the speed and efficiency of removing the ice dam; potentially driving up the cost.
  • The amount of snow that has accumulated in and around the dam will also affect price. The amount of ice on your roof also has an impact. It will take longer to steam or chip thicker ice dams.
  • Your home’s location could also influence the price that you pay. For instance, if you live far out in a rural region, you will likely pay more for a contractor’s time than if you are centrally and conveniently located near the contractor. The standard mileage reimbursement rate is $0.58 per mile; many contractors include this when billing their customers.
  • The type of roof you have may require special treatment and handling to prevent damage. For instance, glass or slate 2 could crack during the process so contractors will have to use particular care, which takes more time. Copper gutters may also warrant specialized attention to prevent the possibility of dents or dings when removing ice blockages.

Methods

Talk to your contractor about the basic methods used to remove ice dams from your roof to find the best solution for your distinct home or building. Here are some of the most common:

MethodCharacteristicsCost
Salt, ice-melt, or pucks

Thawing ice to be removed in chunks and thrown from roof

Used by contractors for smaller roofs or surfaces alongside other methods

1 pound of salt thaws approx. 36-square feet of surface space

Can damage or stain roofing materials

Takes approx 2 hours to apply, but can take hours to melt, depending on the weather conditions

$100/hour
Chipping

Chipping away at ice dam to detach from roof and remove in sheets

Using hammers, mallets and chisels

Could damage property

Takes approx. 4 hours

$200/hour
High pressure water

Using hot water or high pressure to melt the ice

Can be messy

Quite fast

It takes approx. 2 hours depending on roof size

$200-$400/hour
Steam

Using steam to cut ice dam into chunks for removal

Fast method

Less messy

Takes approx. 2-4 hours

$400-$600/hour


Labor

Before removing ice dams, contractors will remove any snow that is on the roof or on the ice, itself. This is done with a long rake-type tool that is made for this task. Standing on the ground, the professional can pull the snow toward them onto the ground. This is a natural part of hiring a professional to remove an ice dam and typically included in the price of removing the dams. The best preparation that homeowners can do is to cover and remove any furnishings, belongings, or items from under the roof edge or around the perimeter of the workspace.

It generally takes between two and four hours to remove an ice dam for an average sized, two-story house. While it may take less than two hours, most contractors in this field charge for a minimum of two hours, regardless of the home’s size. Contractors who remove ice dams typically charge between $200 and $600 per hour.

Maintenance and prevention

Preventing ice dams is easier and cheaper than removing them; hire a pro to remove the snow for you periodically to prevent subsequent accumulation of ice. Insulation is also key–check out the insulation in your attic to ensure it is not causing ice dams. You don’t want your attic to be as warm as your home, as the heat will rise and warm the roof deck. Seal and insulate around your heating ducts. Use a fire-stop sealant around electrical cables and vent pipes to keep heat inside.

If you have a roof access hatch, have it capped-off. Roofing contractors can cap this for you and will charge $45-$75 per hour, plus materials. Ventilate the eaves and ridges of your home with small vents near the edge of the roof. When the roof deck becomes warm, water melts and ice dams form. Avoid venting your fans through the roof of your home. This will cause temperatures to fluctuate and ice to form. Most new construction comes with roof ridge vents 3, but you can have a ridge vent system installed in an older home; the average cost for a common, 50’-long ridge vent is $500 for labor and materials. Connect ducts on any kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents to the roof or walls and not the soffit 4. If a soffit-and-ridge system is not viable, enhance ventilation with soffit or gable vents, or with conventional roof vents for exhaust. Installing a roof vent costs an average of $440.

Another option is to invest in sealed can lights 5 to help prevent ice dams on the roof. These lights can be installed underneath insulation and provide an air seal and a thermal layer that help to insulate the home. Expect to pay around $250 per sealed can light installed in your home’s insulation. It is a good idea to inspect your property for sources where heat may leak before winter weather sets in. Some other culprits that can contribute to ice formation are electrical outlets, your furnace, vents, door frames, windows, and any small cracks, gaps, or holes that you find. Fill these spaces and crevices with caulking 6, which costs around $5 per tube.

Keep your gutters clean to prevent the chance for ice to form in the first place. Make clearing and cleaning your gutters a seasonal task to help keep them working well and detouring water from your home and foundation. Hiring a roofing contractor to clean and clear your gutters will likely cost between $100 and $250.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Heat coils

Invest a little more with heated cables that will warm the roof’s surface to prevent ice dams before they form. These coils are not meant to replace adequate insulation, but they can help curb snow and ice accumulation on your roof in cold weather.

The materials for installation include the heating coils and a thermostat 7; self-regulating coils cost around $5 per foot. It is recommended that you install the coils in the spots most prone to ice dams, such as along the northern exposure of your roof. A thermostat will cost an additional $125-$200, and you should expect to pay roofers $45-$75 per hour for installation.

Ice shield

If you have a new roof installed, upgrade to an ice shield to curb the formation of ice dams. An ice or water shield is installed as an underlayment 8 to create a leak-free roof. Roofers typically charge $45-$75 per hour. Speak with your roofing professional for more information on this additional layer of protection, which costs around $600 to $1,000 to add.

Heated gutters

Heated gutters ensure that water will flow freely through the troughs and downspouts all winter long. The gutters are lined with thermal heating elements that prevent blockages from ice and keep water moving. Heated gutters are expensive, often costing more than $2,000 to install.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Permits. Never permit any company, contractor, or individual to work on your home without a license. This is required for all businesses that remove ice dams, due to the nature of the work. Make sure that the company you hire is bonded and insured, to protect you from potential damage. Without the business having adequate insurance, you could be on the hook for medical bills or liability if someone gets hurt.
  • DIY. It is not advisable for homeowner to attempt to remove ice dams on their own; there is the potential for damage and danger. First, being on the roof in winter time is treacherous and, second, many of the methods to remove ice dams have the potential to cause damage if used incorrectly. Salt products can stain or deteriorate your roofing and hammering could end up putting holes in your home’s roof!
  • Flat rate. Be wary of contractors who offer a flat rate to remove ice dams. There may be many hidden charges and fees.
  • Water damage. To see if the ice dam has caused damage to your house, take photos where you see frost or shine, and then inspect the interior for leaks.
  • Homeowners insurance. In addition to making sure your contractor is properly insured, check your own coverage. Insurance will often cover the damage caused by ice dams, but typically not the preventative step of removing the ice before it can do damage. Since it is essential to remove the ice to maintain your home and roof, failure to do so may result in repercussions from insurers. It is always a smart idea to speak with your own insurance representative to fully understand what is and is not covered by your policy.

FAQ

  • How much does ice dam removal cost?

It costs an average of $1,000 to remove an ice dam from a two-story, 1,500 square foot home. This includes labor costs of $200-$600 per hour.

  • Are ice dams covered by insurance?

Many standard homeowners’ insurance policies do cover ice dam damage, but most do not cover the preventative measure of having the dam removed prior to damage occurring. It is critical to remove ice dams as it may be considered negligence on the homeowner’s behalf if damage does occur, which may result in an insurance claim denial.

  • Do ice dams always cause damage?

No, ice dams do not always cause damage. When the dam has formed, water can back-up and cause leaking through your roof to your attic and interior. If there is no precipitation or run-off the dam may do no damage at all.

  • How do you get rid of ice dams fast?

The fastest and best long-term solution is to keep your attic cold and allow for ample ventilation, which helps prevent ice dams in the first place. If a dam has already formed, you may need to use hot water to quickly melt the accumulation of ice.

  • How do you melt ice dams in gutters?

Firmly hitting the ice with a rubber mallet will help break up the ice chunks. Thaw the ice by pouring hot water into the trough and use a snow rake to remove snow from the gutter or eavestrough. Always double-check the downspout to ensure water can flow freely from the roof all the way to the ground.

  • Do ice melt pucks work?

Ice melt pucks can work in some situations, but there are problems when relying on them for thawing ice on a larger area or up high. For instance, the pucks are lightweight so they can easily be blow away. They melt ice, but only in a small perimeter around the actual puck. The pucks may also discolor shingles 9 or roofing, and if they reach the ground they can harm your landscaping as well as the environment.

  • Can you use hot water to remove ice dams?

You may use hot water to remove ice dams, but steam blasters are considered the more effective way to remove ice dams. Hot steam loosens large sheets and chunks, which can then be removed by a roofing professional, whereas water thaws a segment at a time.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Eaves: The edge of a roof that connects with the wall of the building. Usually this part of the roof comes out further than the wall
glossary term picture Slate 2 Slate: A fine-grained rock, typically bluish-gray in color, that can easily be split into thin layers and is commonly used as a roofing material
glossary term picture Ridge Vent 3 Ridge vents: Ventilation opening in a sloped roof, installed at its pinnacle to remove moisture and warm air from the attic area
glossary term picture Soffit 4 Soffit: Construction material, typically composed of vinyl or aluminum, used to enclose the underside of eaves and ceilings
5 Can lights: A type of recessed lighting where the light is installed into a hole in the ceiling, giving downward light.
glossary term picture Caulking 6 Caulking: A chemical sealant used to fill in and seal gaps where two materials join, for example, the tub and tile, to create a watertight and airtight seal. The term "caulking" is also used to refer to the process of applying this type of sealant
glossary term picture Thermostat 7 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
8 Underlayment: Roofing material laid underneath roofing tiles to seal the roof, preventing leaks
glossary term picture Shingle 9 Shingles: A smooth, uniform, flat piece of construction material, available in a wide variety of materials and laid in a series of overlapping rows, used to cover the outside of roofs or walls to protect against weather damage and leaks.

Cost to remove ice dams varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Bay Shore, NY
+17%
Canton, MA
+43%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Easton, WA
-4%
Ferndale, WA
-6%
Madison, WI
+13%
Mc Lean, VA
+35%
Pullman, WA
-33%
Sandpoint, ID
-40%
Shelton, CT
+21%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Tooele, UT
-6%
Unity, ME
-38%
Valdese, NC
-37%
Winona, MN
-23%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources