5 Basic Ice Dam Removal Tools That Experts Recommend

We will be discussing the equipment and tools for ice dam removal.

Ice dams can be a real headache for homeowners during the winter season. They can damage roof shingles and replacement could cost thousands of Dollars!

Ice Dam Removal Tools, Machine, And Equipment

The good news is, ice dams can be removed, and you can do it all by yourself. You just need the right tools and a little bit of know-how.

So what are the ice dam removal tools you will need?

Stick around and find out!

  1. Heat Cables

One of the best weapons to use against ice is heat, right? So it comes as no surprise that heat cables have become a popular tool for ice dam removal over the past decade.

Heat cables are also known as heat wires or heat tapes. And they work by being laid along the roof to melt the ice dam build-up.

You would want to lay the cables by the areas where the dam has formes. And this is usually around the roof overhangs and edges.

While this works well on small ice dams, it is not the most effective removal tool for larger build-ups.


Because a stretch of thin heat cables will never be able to generate enough heat to melt a large ice dam!

Even if there were heat cables in the market that could produce the amount of heat needed to remove such an ice dam, I doubt you’d want such a “furnace” hanging over your home!

Too much heat will put your home at risk of a fire outbreak, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that. Let’s even assume the heat won’t start a fire but have you considered the fact that heat from the roof can be transferred into your home?

Now that you’ve thought about it, I recommend you only use heat cables when dealing with small ice dams.

  1. Water Heater

Hot water flowing through a water heater can also be useful when it’s time to get rid of that annoying ice dam.

Once again, heat comes into play, as it is one of the most effective elements against ice!

I have to sound a warning though – Do not use hot water on your roof if the roof leaks. The reason for this is simple, the hot water, as well as the melted ice, will end up inside your home!

To add to that, the hot water technique is only ideal for small ice dam build-ups. Unless of course, you have an industrial-grade heater that can generate the amount of heat needed to melt large ice dams.

Reminds you of the heat tapes doesn’t it?

  1. Hair Dryers

If you’re not interested in spending any money hiring a professional, then you’ll probably go all out in your search for alternatives. And one of the first things your friends will probably recommend to you is a hairdryer.

Yes, a hairdryer!

So how does this work? With the heat of course!

Hairdryers can remove ice dams, but at a very slow pace. This is because they are small devices that won’t generate the kind of heat needed to get the job done quickly.

There’s one more thing you have to consider when using hair dryers for ice dam removal – The warning on the tag!

It clearly states that you shouldn’t use your dryer in the bathtub. This is because getting water in your hairdryer while it’s connected to an electrical outlet is dangerous!

You must surely know what an electric shock is!

With this in mind, I strongly advise you to scrap the hairdryer idea. Unless of course, you are extremely careful.

Think about it, you’ll be on a ladder melting ice with a dryer that’s plugged into a socket. And the water will flow down the roof, starting from the part where your ladder is.

Even with a pair of rubber gloves and boots on, I still advise you to be careful. Hiring a professional is the best bet if using a hairdryer seems to be your only choice!

  1. Hammers and chisels

Hammers and chisels are powerful enough to smash through any ice dam on your roof. It doesn’t matter how thick the dam is, it will keep breaking with every swing!

The good thing about using this household tool is that you won’t be at any risk of a fire outbreak or electrocution (like when using heat cables and hair dryers). As long as you have the energy, you can use a hammer and chisel to break off the ice.

Don’t be too quick to rejoice yet, as using a hammer also comes with its disadvantages.

Shingles are not the strongest materials in the world, and they become more fragile under freezing temperatures.

What this means is that while you’re smashing off the ice, there’s also a big chance you’ll damage your shingles as well.

Now the big question is – How careful can you be?

  1. Ice dam steamers

If you want to remove ice dams from your roof without risks such as fire outbreaks and electric shock, then an ice dam steamer is the best tool to use.

Steam will not damage your shingles, and neither will it cause any leakages. If you don’t have an ice dam steamer, then you’ll need to buy one from a hardware store.

I wouldn’t say that they are cheap, as you will spend between $2,500 to $6,000 getting one. Besides the money, another thing you will need is the experience to use the tool.

I’m guessing you’ve never used one before, so that means you’ll have to hire someone who has.

A professional is your best choice here, as they are trained in the use of the tool, as well as climbing up and down icy ladders during the winter.

Final Words

Removing ice dams can be very tricky, as one wrong move can put you or your property at risk. Ladders get slippery during the winter, and so does your roof.

Falls do happen, so you have to be careful when using whichever ice dam removal tool you choose.

Always consider hiring a trained professional whenever you have an ice dam problem.

Take care!

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