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Ice Dams, assessing & removing the ice from the roof & rain gutter. Dovetail removes Ice Dams.

Updated: Jan 18

Here in Bozeman, Montana as winter progresses many of us start to see a growing formation of ice or frozen snow on the edge of the roof and up the roof valleys (where two roof lines meet). The months of February and March are often the most problematic time of the year due to the warmer days and cold nights, but ice dams can begin as early as November. The buildup of ice can become so tall that it blocks melting snow from running down the roof acting as a “dam” this ice dam will continue to grow until warmer weather occurs. Water being pooled behind the dam can then find its way through the roof shingles and into the attic or living space.

Thanks to new materials that building codes in cold climates require, roofers install an ice and water barrier before nailing the roof shingles down. This barrier is required to extend 24 inches inside the exterior wall line, and in valleys. The barrier comes in a roll 36″ wide, it has one side that’s sticky and adheres to the plywood or OSB roof sheathing. When the shingles are laid over the barrier and nailed, the barrier acts as a gasket around each nail.

Theoretically, if an ice dam forms and does not exceed the height of the ice barrier you shouldn’t have any roof leaks. Often the ice dam continues its expansion up the roof beyond the ice barrier and then leaks into the roof.

Should you remove the ice dams or wait for mother nature to warm the air & do her magic? Here at Dovetail, before you decide to have us steam the ice dams from the roof or frozen rain gutters, we will ask a few questions.

  • How long have you owned the home, does the ice dam form every year? Have they ever caused leaks? If the roof hasn't leaked in past winters and no changes have been made to the roof or building, then odds are in your favor that you’ll be okay leaving the ice on the roof. However, heavy snowfall with sunny days & cold nights can cause problems on roofs that have never leaked. The last few months of winter are the most common time to have problems due to the warmer daytime temperatures.

  • When was the roof installed, did the roofer install the ice and water barrier? Building codes have required ice & water shield for many years but sometimes it's been omitted.

  • Do you have any heat cable installed on the roof or in the rain gutters? Is it turned on & working?

  • Are you seeing any drips coming through the soffits?

  • Have you checked the attic to see if you have any water seeping in. Often, the insulation will get saturated before finding its way through the ceiling.

  • Is water dripping over the frozen rain gutter system onto your sidewalk or steps?

Okay, you’ve decided that the ice dams need to go, what’s next? First thing is to get the snow off the roof where it's covering the ice. If you can remove the snow yourself it will save time when we arrive with our steamer, reducing the cost of removal.

Is this a DIY project? If your building is one story you can purchase a snow rake and rake the snow off while standing on the ground. 

Next comes the removal of ice, without specialized steamers the homeowner must resort to repeated applications of ice melt and chipping with a hammer.  You’ll eventually be able to cut some channels in the ice and begin to remove the ice. Some of drawbacks of this method are working from the roof on a slippery slope, punching a hole in the roof or gutter while chipping. And long times on a ladder and roof in freezing temps.

The safest method of ice removal includes the use of a high temperature low pressure steamer like the Arctic Steamer manufactured in the USA. Dovetail will arrive at your home with our equipment, expose the roof ice and then begin the ice removal using our steamers.

You will need to have a working water spigot for us to attach our hoses to the steamer. You should expect melted snow, ice and the converted steam to produce water that will drain to the ground.

Be certain the contractor you hire is not using a standard hot water pressure washer, if the nozzle has a trigger, it's a standard pressure washer and without very cautious use it will cut and carve into the roof shingles. Here at Dovetail Raingutter in Bozeman, Montana we use the top-of-the-line Arctic Steamer Ice dam removal system.

Cost to remove the ice dams varies from roof to roof, precise estimates of time are very difficult to predict. How much ice, how hard is the ice, access to the roof, current temperature, how much snow needs to be moved are just a few of the variables that will affect the required time and cost. Rarely will the process take less than two hours.

Due to so many variables, most reputable companies will not provide an estimate of time and will charge an hourly rate. You should expect to pay $350.00 to $450.00 dollars per hour for this service.


Gallatin Valley, Park County, Bozeman, Belgrade Montana and surrounding area.

For more information or to schedule ICE DAM REMOVAL call us 406-585-2979

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