We might be the first actual steam ice dam removal company to admit that we have used gas-powered equipment in the past. In Dec of 2010, Minneapolis saw over 33″ of snowfall. On Dec 10th we recorded a 4th highest on record, a whopping 17″ in a 24 hour period. You might remember that as the year the Minneapolis Metrodome collapsed. I remember watching it on the news. The stadium’s dome caved in and emptied out on the 50-yard line! There were also other interesting stories on the news that winter. Guys on roofs removing ice with steam. These guys were all over the news!
There are generally two types of equipment used for professional ice dam removal. Some companies choose to use electric driven low PSI steam equipment. Other companies choose to use gas driven higher PSI “steam” equipment. This is a true story about how I got my start in the ice dam removal business. Furthermore, it is an account of my first-hand experiences with gas powered equipment. It is a must read if your planning on hiring an ice dam removal service. By reading this text you will learn-
- Do both electric and gas machines produce steam?
- Does it really matter?
- Differentiating the two. (must know to protect your roof)
- What type of steam is safe for your roof.
- Is buying a new roof worth hiring the wrong company?
- Who is liable for damage to my roof?
Steam ice dam removal! What a brilliant idea I thought. I was a recent college graduate turned roofer that was shoveling roofs in the winter to get by. So what did I do? I decided to start an ice dam company. I thought “why not”? I get to help people and stay busy working at the same time. However, there’s a catch. electric steam ice dam removal equipment is very expensive.
So, I looked for a cheaper alternative. Gas powered pressure washers with a burner that heated the water was the answer. Why not? I knew there were other guys using them. Furthermore, these guys had great reviews. They were even on the news! They said it was steam so it must be steam. This is awesome! I thought gas powered equipment was the ticket for me!
My Pitfalls With Gas Powered Equipment
Fast forward two weeks. I’ve got my “gas powered steamer”. I’ve got my ladders and truck. I’ve got my work comp, business license and proper insurance in place. As it turns out, I’ve also got a serious knack for getting myself into a pickle.
Unbeknownced to me this machine I was operating was seriously overpowered and didn’t heat nearly hot enough to create steam. However, this machine still heated the water. Thus, creating the look of steam. It even had a cloud of steam around my gun when the hot water came out. I even thought it was steam.
However, it was dangerous to operate off of a ladder or from a roof. When I pulled the trigger on my hot pressure washer gun it nearly spun me in a circle. Imagine that while being 20 ft in the air on an icy ladder. I remember thinking “it has got to work. It works for other guys & well-known ice dam companies. It has got to remove roof ice.”
How Can It Be Safe For My Customers Roofs?
I learned on my first job that it removed ice very well. In fact, it cut through ice like a knife. However, I learned on my second job that it also could very easily cut and remove roof shingles if I wasn’t extremely careful. Hold on a minute! Remove and cut shingles! Well, it did. Only when I slowly melted the ice from afar was it safe. I immediately notified the customer of the cut and missing shingles on their roof, Thankfully my liability insurance picked up the tab.
I reached out to the ice dam removal companies with the same machines I was using and told them my story. I asked these guys- how can their equipment be safe for a roof? It must be safe.
Modified Gas Hot Pressure Washers?
They said that they modified it. So I tried to modify mine. In fact with some success, I had an engineer try to modify mine. We achieved slightly lower pressures and an increase in temperature. Ready to go, I was on to my next roof. You guessed it, I damaged another one.
I destroyed two roofs with that pressure washer. My insurance agent is going to kill me. Obviously, she didn’t. However, she did warn me of the potential of getting dropped by my insurance company. Obviously, that didn’t happen either. I contacted the engineer and we toiled for days. Testing on various roof shingles in an effort to make the equipment safe.
My engineer told me that it was impossible to make this gas-powered equipment safe. We had failed, I sold it three days later to a golf course that used it to clean the golf carts. And last heard that they had used it to clean the graffiti off of several of their buildings. They were actually able to clean graffiti off of a brick wall. I was using this equipment on brittle cold shingles!!
With this, I gained a bit of perspective on the ice dam removal business and a few of the ever so popular guys & companies that operate within this crazy industry.
Gas powered “steam” removal roof damage.
I'm Not Giving Up
I knew there was better equipment available but I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket at the time. Even with all of my school loans, I used what money I had from the sale of the gas pressure washer and took out another loan. I purchased a low PSI ice dam removal steam machine. I’m not one to give up. So, I told myself that I had to buy the equipment to make all my previous troubles worth it.
A Second Chance With Low PSI Ice Dam Removal
Now I could perform ice dam removal with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Furthermore, Minneapolis MN was on the brink of record snowfall totals and I had the answer for every Minneapolis roof leak. My new steam machine operated at 100 PSI and 300 degrees Fahrenheit and I could prove it to my customers by putting gauges on my equipment. It was actually steam! Compared to my previous machine that after modified operated at a damaging 1500PSI and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The best thing about my shiny new steam machine is that it is impossible to damage a roof with it! Furthermore, it is incredibly safe to operate. I don’t have anymore backpressure spinning me in circles on my ladder. As well as, I can use cleaner burning fuel resulting in less downtime and maintenance on the job. When you’re charging by the hour, every minute counts and that time matters. Unlike many other companies, I truly was operating with integrity and honesty.
How Do These "Ice Dam Companies" Get On The News? Don't The News Channels Know Any Better? What About Their Customers? The Good Reviews? How Is This Even Possible?
We have done one news story in our lifetime as an ice dam company and it was an eye-opener, to say the least. The owner of our company was filmed on the street with a news team talking about ice dam removal. The news team then took that video and added a clip of someone using a hot pressure washer removing ice dams towards the end of that video. We don’t mind. It was good publicity and truth be told the general public doesn’t know its not steam.
That’s how hidden it can be. It is a clip from a gas powered ice dam removal company blasting away at someone poor soul’s roof. Because of this video, we wrote this page. There is nothing wrong with what the news company did. They thought they were doing us a solid and it made the video a little more interesting for you the viewer. Would we like a correction video to be done? Sure we would. But that’s not what this is about.
Electric VS Gas Driven Ice Dam Removal - Does It Matter?
Before You Hire A Ice Dam Company Ask Yourself A Few Questions.
- What happens when you throw a cup of hot water into the air in the middle of winter? Steam, right? You got it! High-pressure and low-pressure hot water looks like steam in the winter.
- Are the news teams educated enough to know the difference between low-pressure steam or high-pressure hot water? Do they care or is a good news story enough for them?
- What about the companies operating gas equipment? Are they really damaging homes? We don’t know for a fact that they are. We do know that they are potentially so invested in their equipment, website etc.. that it would be a huge expense to change their ways. It would also mean admitting that they have been using damaging equipment all along.
- If you had the ice dams removed from your home- would you get out a ladder to inspect your roof in the middle of the winter? If the answers no, what do you think all the good reviewing customers have done.
- If your roof was damaged by gas-powered equipment would you know what to look for?
- Would you hire a company that uses potentially damaging equipment?
- Would you hire a company that doesn’t provide any up close videos of how their steam reacts with the shingles on a roof?
- Do you think the technicians using gas equipment are always careful to not get to close to your shingles when it only takes a split second of human error to damage a roof?
- Is the cost of a new roof worth the energy it takes to have the ice dam removal company prove that they are using safe equipment with pressure and temperature gauges?
Ice Dam Steaming vs High Temp Pressure Washing for Ice Dam Removal
Ice Dam Steaming isn’t the only method for MN Ice Dam Removal, but it is the safest MN method. Please take a few moments to read this page and educate yourself on the differences between steam ice dam removal companies vs companies that perform high temp pressure washing for ice dam removal. Despite the large differences between 100% steam equipment and high temp pressure washing both of these companies more than likely advertise as using steam. Only one of them is telling the truth.
At Ice Dams Removed we only use Ice Dam Steam Machines for MN Ice Dam Removal. An Ice Dam Steam Machine is a machine built specifically for Ice Dam Removal. Ice Dam Steamers produce 100% high heat steam at a very low pressure. We do not use high temp pressure washers. A high temp pressure washer is built for cleaning surfaces at a moderate heat and a very high pressure. Only an ice dam steamer can remove Ice Dams effectively. A high temp pressure washer can and will damage your roof. For proper ice dam removal with ice dam steaming equipment contact the MN Ice Dam Removal experts at Ice Dams Removed.
Differences We Have Observed Between Electric & Gas Machines
Low PSI High Temp Electric Steam Ice Dam Removal
- Ice Dam Steamers operate at a very low pressure 100 psi. This is the optimum pressure for ice dam removal.
- Ice Dam Steamers produce high-temperature steam at 310 degrees. This is the optimum temperature for ice dam removal.
- Ice Dam Steamers have no operating trigger on the wand, This creates constant steam.
- Ice Dam Steamers do not have enough pressure to damage shingles. This is good!
- Ice Dam Steamers have an open tip at the end of the gun wand for ice dam removal.
- Ice Dam Steamers use less water than a hot pressure washer.
- Ice Dam Steamers are safer to operate on any roof because of the difference in back pressure at the gun.
- Water moves slow enough for the burner to effectively heat it up to the temps needed to create steam.
- Larger burner unit and horizontal heating coil.
- Electrically powered water pump (needs external electrical power to run).
Higher PSI Low Temp Gas Powered Ice Dam Removal
- High temp pressure washers operate at a higher pressure, might easily damaging roofs.
- High temp pressure washers have a trigger allowing the operator to start and stop the flow of hot water.
- High temp pressure washers can cut a shingle in half in little time at all.
- High temp pressure washers have a quick couple colored tip at the end of the wand or maybe often times disguised with a metal or flexible tube made to look like a steam nozzle. This a good way for Ice Dam Removal Customers to discover if you are hiring a gas ice dam removal company.
- High temp pressure washers use more water at a cooler temperature, therefore, causing excessive water runoff.
- High temp pressure washers, when operated, can cause the technician to lose their balance on your roof because of the high back pressure. DANGEROUS!!
- Water moves fast due to the gas driven pump.
- Smaller burner unit and a vertical heating coil.
- Gas powered water pump (a self-contained unit that doesn’t need an external power source.)
There is nothing wrong with signing a damage waiver provided by a company. Odds are that the company is still insured to protect your property. However, is signing a damage waiver giving up your right to recourse should damage be caused to your home in the ice dam removal process. You bet it is. However, you have water coming into your home and that is also causing damage. Most damage waivers protect the company from rare damages caused by falling ice and snow. Most companies don’t have to worry about damaging your roof during the ice dam removal process because they use low PSI steam equipment.
However, there are a great number of large reputable ice dam removal companies out there that are disguising there gas powered equipment as steam. These companies damage waivers are also put in place to protect them from damages they cause to your roof during the ice dam removal process. Is a new roof worth the effort it takes to look past the smoke and mirrors to hire a company that uses electric driven low PSI steam?