All this time your parents or landlord have been performing all the snow removal duties, and suddenly, you find yourself in a different situation altogether. You’re in charge this year, and you may not have a precise idea on what to do. Or maybe you want to refresh your knowledge regarding this winter-related home care activity.
Snow Removal Tips For Homeowners
Let’s begin with gathering the equipment.
1. Go shopping
Don’t delay until the first snowfall to get the equipment. Maybe it’s a shovel or snow blower, whatever you plan to buy, get it before the snowfall actually happens. I would advise that if you’re a beginner, you should invest in a shovel.
How to buy a good snow shovel?
Keeping in mind that improper use of shovels causes several injuries, I would suggest you try the shovel before you buy. See if you can easily handle it. Also, try to get a combination of shovels for yourself for easy handling. Not all shovels are meant for the same purpose.
For example, a 24-inch snow shovel is better for only shoveling, while a 30-inch shovel is perfect for pushing the snow. However, if you opt for a shovel with an offset handle with the combination of a small blade size, you’ll experience lower back strain. For ice-crusted snow, a square-nose snow shovel works the best.
Apart from a couple of shovels, you’ll need a scoop as well as a snow melting agent (rock salt or calcium chloride will do). An aluminum scoop should be preferred as it doesn’t acquire rust.
ALSO READ: More Snow Removal Tips
2. What do you need to do?
The second of my snow removal tips for homeowners is gathering knowledge about one's snow removal responsibilities. What area of the house do you need to light up? It will include the sidewalks but how much do you need to remove on the road? Usually, it’s two feet out into the road, but you can make a call to your local PWD (Public Works Department).
If you scheme to use a snow blower, ensure that you don’t deposit the snow on the road during the process. It can be dangerous for the passersby.
3. Using de-icing products
Things you need to keep in mind
Before you pick a de-icing product, you must check if it’s suitable for use. For example, you shouldn’t use any salt on concrete sidewalks and pavements that are less than six months old. Ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate are the most damaging products present in few de-icing products. They can damage any masonry material and should be avoided altogether.
You will also want to be careful while applying de-icers near vegetation. Animals can swallow the residue of such products which may prove to be fatal for them. So, ensure you don’t use products that aren’t safe for your pets.
Primary de-icing salts
- Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt): It’s the most commonly used salt for de-icing but is highly damaging as well. It can affect the masonry material as well as can cause severe water contamination.
- Potassium Chloride: It is a comparatively safer option for de-icing. It doesn’t harm the vegetation but can act only if the air temperature is above 15F.
- Calcium Chloride: Calcium chloride is again a salt that’s not recommended for use. It can cause irritations on your skin and can also be damaging to concrete if the concentration gets above a certain point.
- Magnesium Chloride: It’s the newest and safest salt available in market at present. It isn’t as damaging as other prevalent variants are.
Alternatives to salt
But using salt for de-icing still causes problems like excess salt build-up in the soil, preventing plants from properly absorbing nutrients from the ground, and harm to pets. That’s why it makes sense to look for alternatives if the same amount of results can be achieved. I have some ideas on alternatives but keep in mind that they won’t work under all situations. You’ll need to use your sense of judgment to decide on one snow removal method.
1. Shovel as soon as the snow ceases to fall. It will reduce the need of de-icers and even make the process easier. Or rather use a snow blower.
2. For someone who is getting a new home constructed soon, it makes sense to have a snow melt mat installed in the driveway and sidewalks. It consists of an electronic mesh-like system that can be heated up using electricity to melt the snow.
3. Use it sparingly. Don’t use it as if it’s going to melt all the snow. Just let it loosen the snow up and then shovel.
4. Wait for the right time
One of the top snow removal mistakes homeowners make is picking a wrong time for the activity. Either they begin too quickly or wait until it’s too late, both of which should be avoided.
Wait for two things – till the snowfall ends or till the PWD snow plows have crossed your street. Waiting till the snow fall ends isn’t always possible as if you let the layer of snow get too thick, it will be really difficult to remove it (and maybe even damaging to your health or anybody who shovels it out). So, a better and second option is to wait for the PWD snow plows to do their work. Waiting for them makes sense as it is very likely that the snow blows up on your driveway or sidewalks while they do their work, whereas your hard work would go in vain, So, just wait for the right time to remove the snow.
And last but not the least, please don’t try to melt the snow away with any crazy ideas you get. De-icers are the only products you can use, or the couple of alternatives I suggested are also safe. Rest of the ideas should be avoided unless you’re 100% sure about the safety part.
These are my snow removal tips for homeowners. I hope you understood the process well and I answered all the doubts that may come up in your mind. If I missed something, please comment below, and I shall reply back with an appropriate response in the shortest possible time.