How Much Does It Cost to Remove Ice Dams?

Average range: $600 - $1,800
Low
$400
Average Cost
$1,200
High
$4,000
(Three hours of labor for a traditional two-story, 1,500 sq.ft. home)

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Reviewed by Nieves Caballero. Written by Fixr.com.

Ice dams are large, swollen masses of ice that appear on your roof during cold weather months. They form on the eaves 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.

The national average cost of ice dam removal is between $600 and $1,800. Most people pay around $1,200 for three hours of labor to remove ice from a traditional two-story home with around 1,500 sq.ft. At the low end of the price range, you can spend $400 for two hours of labor to remove ice from a single-story dwelling that is less than 1,000 sq.ft. At the higher end, you can spend up to $4,000 for four hours of labor to remove ice from a house that is more than 1,500 sq.ft. and add heating coils to the roof.

Ice Dam Removal Price

Ice Dam Removal Cost
National average cost$1,200
Average range$600-$1,800
Low-end$400
High-end$4,000

Ice Dam Removal Cost by Project Range

Low
$400
Two hours of labor on single-story dwelling, less than 1,000 sq.ft. home
Average Cost
$1,200
Three hours of labor for a traditional two-story, 1,500 sq.ft. home
High
$4,000
Four hours of labor, more than 1,500 sq.ft. home, plus heat coils

Why 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.

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Ice Dam Removal Cost by Method

There are several methods of removing ice dams from roofs, with costs typically ranging between $100 and $600. The best method to remove the ice dam depends on the type of roof you have, how difficult the area is to reach, how many problem areas there are, and how much ice has formed. 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:

Cost per Hour to Remove Ice Dams Using Salt, Roof Melt Tablets, Chipping, High-Pressure Water, and Steam

Cost per Hour to Remove Ice Dams Using Salt, Roof Melt Tablets, Chipping, High-Pressure Water, and Steam

MethodCost per Hour (Labor Included)
Salt$100 - $150
Roof Melt Tablets$100 - $150
Chipping$200 - $300
High-Pressure Water$200 - $400
Steam$400 - $600

Ice Dam Salt

Cleaning ice dams with salt costs $100 to $150 per hour. This method is typically used on smaller roofs and surfaces combined with other methods to be most effective. Usually, 1 pound of salt thaws around 36 sq.ft. of surface space and is thrown off the roof once it becomes liquid. It takes approximately 2 hours to apply but takes hours to melt, depending on the weather conditions. It is important to use the right type of salt for it to do its job. Rock salt or salts that contain sodium chloride can damage the roof due to the corrosive oxidizing agents they contain. Make sure the salt you will be using contains safer materials. Calcium chloride is the safest and most effective type of salt, followed by potassium chloride, although the latter loses its effectiveness below 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roof Melt Tablets

The cost to remove ice dams from roofs with roof melt tablets costs $100 to $150 per hour depending on the contractor and where it has formed. The expert tosses the tablets onto the roof with or without a ladder depending on where they are formed, which takes no longer than 2 hours. The tablets thaw the ice in chunks and create a path for the water to drain through. Roof melt tablets are very convenient to use, although placing them can be risky if they have to be used in areas that are high or hard to access. They are also effective on small areas, so you would need to place more tablets if larger amounts of ice have formed.

Chipping

Chipping costs $200 to $300 per hour and usually takes around 4 to 6 hours to complete depending on the size and thickness of the ice dam and the roof type and size. It is a process through which it gets chipped away by using hammers, mallets, and chisels to remove it in sheets and throw them off the roof. However, it is one of the most risky methods of removing ice dams from roofs. By hitting it with the tools, the contractor may accidentally hit the roofing material and break it, causing expensive damage that would require a roof repair.

High-Pressure Water

Using high-pressure water to remove ice dams from your roof will cost $200 to $400 per hour. It is a more advanced method through which a contractor uses hot water or high pressure that melts the ice quickly and lets it drain through the downspouts and gutters. It is one of the messier removal methods, but it is very effective because the ice is completely removed. It also takes less time to do, around two to five hours, to completely remove everthing. However, high-pressure cleaning can damage the outer coat of the roof, especially tile roofs and slate. Moreover, if the roof is not sealed properly, using high-pressure water can cause leaks in the loft.

Steam Ice Dam Removal

The cost to have a professional remove the ice dam from your roof using steam ranges between $400 and $600 per hour. As its name suggests, this method uses steam to cut the ice dam into bigger chunks and then remove those chunks from the roof. It is the fastest and least messy method, but it is also the most expensive one. The contractor takes two to three hours to completely remove the ice from an average-sized roof.

Labor Cost to Remove Ice Dams

Contractors who remove ice dams typically charge between $200 and $600 per hour, with flat rates rarely charged by contractors. Around $180 to $540 (90%) of the hourly cost is labor. The remaining 10% are the materials used during the process, which is about $20 to $60. It generally takes between two and six hours to remove an ice dam for an average-sized, two-story house by using the most common removal methods. 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.

Before removing ice dams, contractors remove any snow on the roof. This costs $250 to $500 and is done with a long rake-type tool made for this task. Standing on the ground, the professional pulls the snow toward them onto the ground. This is a natural part of hiring a professional to remove an ice dam and is 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.

Several factors affect the overall cost of theremoval project. Larger roofs with heavier snowfall and ice accumulation take longer to clean. If the roof has a high pitch, the removal will be riskier, which is another factor that determines the project cost. The type of roof also plays an important role. For example, glass or slate could crack during the process, so contractors must use particular care, which takes more time. Finally, your location affects the cost. In areas with colder weather, the removal process will go slower and cost more to complete.

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Ice Dam Damage Repair Cost

The total cost of repairs depends on how much damage was done to the roof, ranging from $300 to $1,500. An ice dam can pose a serious threat to your roof and may cause damage that needs to be repaired. They often cause roof erosion and may damage gutters and downspouts too. Once the dam has been removed, these areas need to be fixed to prevent further issues from developing. Small jobs like replacing a few shingles or repairing the gutter will not be too expensive, but in severe situations, you may need to spend thousands on roof replacement or water damage repairs.

Removing Ice from Gutters

If you try to fix the problem by yourself, it is possible to remove ice from gutters cheaply at just $50 to $100, while a professional usually charges about $100 to $400 per hour. If you live in a snowy and cold area, ice can build up in your gutters too, causing clogs and blockages. There are several different ways to remove it. A simple and manual method involves using a snow rake to clear it away, but this can be difficult and may damage the gutters in the process. You can also use hot water, a deicer, or other chemical products like tablets to melt it away. Often, when there is a large blockage, it is best to call in a professional.

Ice Dam 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. 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.

Most new construction comes with roof ridge vents. However, you can have a ridge vent system installed in an older home. If a soffit-and-ridge system is not viable, enhance ventilation with soffit or gable vents or conventional roof vents for exhaust. 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 causes temperatures to fluctuate and ice to form. Connect ducts on any kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents to the roof or walls and not the soffit.

If you have a roof access hatch, have it capped off. Roofing contractors can cap your roof access hatch for a cost of around $50 to $100 per hour, plus materials. You can also add ice melting heat cables for a cost of $5 per linear foot. These cables are placed in zigzag patterns along the roof to melt snow and prevent buildup but are one of the most extensive solutions. Keep your gutters clean to prevent the chance for ice from forming in the first place. Hiring a roofing contractor to clean and clear your gutters will likely cost between $150 and $225.​ Make clearing and cleaning your gutters a seasonal task to keep them working well and detouring water from your home and foundation.

Another option is to invest in sealed can lights 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. It is a good idea to inspect your property for sources where heat may leak before winter weather begins. 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.

Ice Dams on House Roof

How Do Ice Dams Form?

A warm attic or inadequate ventilation can lead to the formation of ice dams. It 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 they 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.

Signs of Ice Dams on Roof

Ice dams can cause serious damage to the roof and the whole house. Because of this, it is important to pay attention to some signs of them forming and how severe these issues may be. If you see icicles forming on the edge of the roof or behind the gutters, this may indicate that ice has formed on the roof. It may start to build on top of the gutters or the lower edge of the roof. Even if you see ice as thin as an inch, it can still cause big problems. It coming through the soffit vents or the soffit itself is a bad sign. Finally, if you notice ice or water manifesting on the siding, exterior walls, or around window frames, this may be really bad news and be a sign of serious ice dam formations. It is important to call a removal specialist as soon as you notice the first signs of formation.

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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Heat Coils

Heat coils can be installed for $5 per foot, including the coils and a thermostat. 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 accumulation on your roof in cold weather. 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.

Ice Shield

Speak with your roofing professional for more information on this additional layer of protection, which typically costs around $1,500 to $10,000 depending on the size of the area you want to protect. An ice or water shield is installed as an underlayment to create a leak-free roof. Roofers typically charge $50 to $100 per hour for this addition. If you have a new roof installed, upgrade to a shield to curb the formation of ice dams.

Heated Gutters

Heated gutters are expensive, often costing between $2,000 and $4,000 to install. 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. The warm gutter heats up the water that flows through it, preventing it from turning into ice.

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 it before it can do damage. Since it is essential to remove it 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.
  • Hot water. Hot water can be used to remove ice dams, but there are a few issues associated with doing so. For starters, if you use your own hot water supply to remove the dam, it can be time-consuming because hot water is not as hot or effective as steam. It can drown the roof and actually make leakages or water damage issues worse, so it can be a risky choice. It will also use up your hot water and cost a lot of money in utility bills. Experts prefer using steam or other techniques for removing dams that are safer to the roof and much faster overall. If you have a small ice dam in the gutter, hot water might be enough to get rid of it, but for larger dams, it is best to call in the pros who use more effective methods.
  • Mileage reimbursement. Your home’s location influences 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.

FAQs

  • How to remove icicles from the roof?

Icicles are usually removed using a rubber mallet. You or the contractor can gently hit the top edge of the icicles that hang off the roof’s edge, causing them to break and fall.

  • How much does ice dam removal cost?

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

  • Are ice dams covered by homeowners 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 them 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.

  • How do you melt ice dams in gutters?

Firmly hitting the ice with a rubber mallet will help break it up into 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?

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 1 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.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Shingle 1 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.

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