The perfect scene – falling snow, snowy view, hot cocoa while sitting in front of the fireplace. We probably all hope that the winter season is all about this. However, snow, no matter how aesthetic visuals it presents, also comes with potential risks to you and your home.
The winter season entails a lot of work to ensure that your home is safe. If you live in areas with heavy snowing or in case of snowstorms, most likely you are prepared to do some heavy and manual labor to get those snow off your roof, driveway, etc. We decided to gather and share with you different snow removal tips and tricks to alleviate the stress that snow removal brings, from safety tips in shoveling snow, the importance of using a good shovel, using a leaf blower, and many more. Of course, you can always call in the professional snow removers to make things easier for you.
Before giving out some snow removal tips and tricks that you can apply, here are some ways that snow can damage your home:
- Heavy snow can overload your roof – your roof can only tolerate a certain amount of snow and the possibility of it collapsing is very real and scary. Did you know that it only takes 4 feet of accumulated fresh snow to create stress in your roof? With climate change, the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable, snow overloading your roof could happen. This is especially true if your roof isn’t well-maintained. This underscores the importance of roof maintenance even before the winter season to ensure that your roof could stand even harsh weather.
- Flooding in your home due to snow melting – the damage caused by snow could also occur when the temperature starts to rise. When the snow melts, it can leak through the tiny cracks in your home’s foundation. Flooding could happen to your basement, and damages to your walls could be seen. Some ways to prevent this is shoveling the snow away from your home, setting up good drainage in the roof, making sure that your gutters are clear and properly directed away from your house (so that the meltwater will be directed to the drains), and ensuring that there is no entryway for meltwater by repairing and sealing the house’s foundation, patching cracks and more.
- Damages to the gutter, roof, and home due to ice dams – sure, ice dams are pretty to look at, but our professionals here equates ice dams to potential damage your gutters, tear on your shingles and cause leaks inside your home. Good insulation to keep the temperature of your roof at an equal level, removal of ice dams using a roof rake (warning this is labor-intensive) and clear gutter are some ways to prevent ice dams from forming.
- Slippery walkways are dangerous to your family – the damage of course is not only limited to your home, but snow could also bring about bodily and grave harm to you and your family. Ice could freeze your walkway and could cause possible falls. Melting snow could also be a slip hazard. Accident prevention is of course the key – shoveling your driveway and directing your drainage away from the sidewalk are a must to avoid accidents caused by snow/melted snow.
- Damage to concrete – if you have existing cracks in your walkways, even how minor, snow and ice melt could make that problem bigger. When the water flows into those cracks and eventually refreezes, it will expand and widen the existing cracks. The good news is, cracks in concrete could be easily repaired and as usual, prevention is better, and you could do this by filling in those cracks before the winter season starts.
- Dangerous snow-laden branches – snow-laden branches are heavy, and if you have trees near your home, this could pose a problem. The branches could add weight to your roof, scratch your sidings, and could even fall off you and power lines if too heavy, causing accidents. Make sure that your branches are well-trimmed before the snow falls and accumulate in the branches.
Here are some snow removal tips and tricks that will surely get the job done:
- Safety first when shoveling – before anything else, safety should be your priority even when shoveling snow. The most common injury related to shoveling is on the lower back, while cardiac-related injuries are also reported. With this, here are some safety recommendations that you should follow before and while shoveling:
- Do not shovel if you have a history of heart disease – a clear driveway is not worth it. If you do not have a doctor’s clearance, do not shovel.
- Warm-up – just like with any physical activities, warming up and light stretches should be done first. Start slow and don’t over-exert yourself. Also, do not shovel while smoking or after eating.
- Wear proper gears – wear layers to make sure that comfortable body temperature is maintained.
- Push don’t lift – to reduce body strain, push the snow with the shovel instead of lifting. In case you need to lift, lift with your legs and not your back. Also, just partially fill the shovel when lifting.
- Multiple trips could be done – you don’t have to do everything in one go. You can shovel periodically to avoid moving a large amount of snow.
- Stay hydrated and rest – make sure you are hydrated while shoveling. Also, don’t over-exert by resting every 20-30 minutes especially if the snow is wet.
- Choose a good shovel – a bigger shovel doesn’t mean better. Always choose ergonomically-designed shovels. You can ask for recommendations when buying. A good shovel will reduce strain in your body especially on your back and arms. This is a good investment for you especially if you live in areas with heavy snow.Tip: For heavy snows, choose the S-blade shovel. You can also consider having an ice shovel attachment for better hand position and even an electric shovel for that extra push.
- Use your leaf blower – for light fluffy snow, you can bring out your leaf blower from the autumn season and use it on your walkways, driveways, steps, and even cars. But having a snow blower is a good investment especially for heavy and wet snow. Snow blowers could cost up to $500 but will surely make your job easier than just shoveling.Quick safety tips when using snow blowers:
- Make sure that your hands are not in the way of moving parts
- Never leave your snow blower unattended when running
- In case your snow blower jams, turn it off right away.
- If running a snow blower in an enclosed space, note of the carbon monoxide risk
- Fuels should be added to your snow blower before starting and not while running
- Shovel often – fresh snow is lighter and fluffier. If you wait for too long, the snow will become wetter, heavier, and harder to move. If you delay shoveling until the next day, the snow will stick to the ground and could even freeze, raising the effort level to 10.Tip: If you need extra traction when shoveling, try wearing an extra pair of socks over your boots! You can also use cooking spray as lubrication to avoid wet snow from sticking to your shovel.
- Use a tarp or canvas painting drop cloth to speed things up – this trick works wonders. Simply place a tarp or canvas painting drop cloth (or any sturdy cloth) to exposed walkways, sidewalks, porch steps, and even your car when snow is predicted. So, when the snow stops or as you leave the house in the morning, you just need to drag the snow-filled plastic tarp or cloth to uncover a clear path. Work smart 😊
- Do not place the removed snow near the foundation – when removing snow from your driveway, roof, or deck, don’t pile the snow to the side of your house. This is to avoid potential issues like cracks in your house’s foundation and frozen pipes.
- Tall or large stakes around the walkways and driveways are handy – this will serve as your marker so that you can easily direct your snow remover contractor (or as your guide when you do the snow blowing or shoveling yourself). Believe us, things are harder to locate when buried in several feet of snow.
- Buy snow melting mats – if you want to make your steps slip-free, consider purchasing snow melting mats. This will avoid an accumulation of snow and ice on your driveway or walkway.
- Remove snow on roofs with snow rakes for sloped roofs – as mentioned, heavy snow could cause damage to your roof. With this, removing snow is important. The good news is, you don’t have to climb the roof and use a snow rake for your roof. It is a specially designed rake that has extension poles that will allow you to reach 15 feet or even more. If in case you don’t have the choice but to shovel your roof or if you don’t have the right equipment, we recommend that you call in the professionals for safety.
Depending on where you live, snow is something that you have to live it for a certain or extended period. Though it may look beautiful, it could also cause inconvenience and extra work for us. The key is to work smart and have a definite plan, and we hope that the simple tips above could help you out in your snow removal.
For safety and efficiency, you could also hire a professional snow remover so that you won’t worry about the time, effort, and equipment.