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Educational Consumer Tips

Roof - Ice & Snow Removal

Author: Better Business Bureau
Published:

The Better Business Bureau is receiving a high volume of calls regarding ice dams and snow on area roofs.

There may be several reasons why these problems occur, ranging from inadequate insulation or ventilation in one's home to having debris left in gutters after fall clean up.


As everyone knows, New York is not immune to substantial amounts of ice & snow throughout the winter months. This has led to many of the ice problems homeowners are currently facing. Inadequate insulation or ventilation can be corrected, but "Mother Nature" can't be controlled. The unusual amount of snow combined with earlier sleet caused ice dams not normally experienced by homeowners. Professionals point out that besides removing snow from the roof, your safety is most important. DON'T JEOPARDIZE YOUR WELL BEING WHEN TRYING TO REMOVE THE SNOW AND ICE FROM YOUR ROOF. 

If you are unable to remove the snow yourself in a safe manner, the BBB will provide a special list of local BBB Accredited Businesses who offer ice and snow removal. 

HIRING A CONTRACTOR 

1. There is a wide range of fees being charged for this service, anywhere from $60 to $300 per hour, with the average going rate between $75-$100 per hour. Make sure to ask questions: Is the hourly fee per job or man? Does it include removal of snow from driveways and walks? Some companies are charging a flat fee plus a hourly fee just to go to your home, ask what is included in the flat fee? 

2. Make sure that the company has CURRENT liability and workers compensation insurance before hiring someone to go up on your roof. Ask them for the name of their insurance agency and call the agency to get confirmation of insurance or ask for the company's CURRENT certificate of insurance. 

3. Expect that a contractor may not be able to provide immediate service. Many contractors are receiving hundreds of calls and can't set up appointments for several days. 

4. Understand that there is no guarantee that the problem won't happen again. Many contractors are having customers signing waivers stating that they aren't responsible for damage incurred by their ice and snow removal, and their is no guarantee against future ice build up. 

5. Be careful of contractors going door-to-door. Ask for proof of the company's reliability; how long in business, business card and contract with name, address and phone number of the company, references and call the Better Business Bureau for a report. Demand a copy of any estimate for repair work that would be part of any insurance claim. 

REMEDIES 

1. A "short term" remedy is to create water runoffs through the ice and snow so there is water discharge off the roof. Creating the runoff may unavoidably damage the roof. This unavoidable damage is a trade off and may be less severe than the interior damage caused by leaking water. 

2. Some contractors may suggest that rock salt or calcium chloride be used to melt the ice and snow. Some manufacturers of shingles state that use of these ingredients invalidate the shingles warranty. They may cause additional damage. If used, the homeowner assumes liability. 

3. If inside water leaks occur and form "pools" of water in the ceiling, puncture a small hole in the ceiling and allow water to escape into a container. 

4. If water is running near an electrical source, shut down the circuit breaker. 

5. Never use heating devices, such as torches to melt the ice. 


INSURANCE 

1. Notify your insurance agent and if you aren't sure, find out what type of homeowners insurance you carry. Depending on the coverage, certain things may or may not be covered. 

2. Once a claim is filed, your agent will notify the insurance company, who will assign a claims adjustor. Expect a phone call from the adjustor to discuss the claim or to set up an inspection of the damage. Over the next several weeks they will be processing many claims, so please be patient.

3. Keep good records of ALL costs for repairs. 

4. Safely attempt to minimize your loss by removing personal property from any damaged area. BE VERY CAREFUL OF ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES AND OUTLETS WHEN NEAR WATER LEAKS. 

For more information, contact:

Better Business Bureau
(800) 828-5000 
www.upstateny.bbb.org

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a Business Review on any company, service or product.