With record breaking low temperatures, it is no doubt this winter has been rough. From sub zero temperatures to mountain size snow piles, staying warm and braving the elements can be difficult. Great Lakes would like to share some of our snow removal tips to keeping your driveway ice free and ways to easily remove large snow piles.
When it comes to snow removal, everyone knows about snow shovels, of course, but an alternative worth considering if you live in a heavy snow area is a snow blower. There are three basic types, with differing uses and capacities.
Single-stage snow blowers are good for most urban and suburban uses. They are lightweight and maneuverable; have a rubber edge auger that gets very close to the pavement; handle wet, heavy snow very well. They won’t handle the hard, icy accumulation left behind at the end of your driveway by the snowplow. Along with that, they are not suitable for gravel.
A two-stage snow blower is good for larger driveways or drifting snow. It has an auger that breaks up the snow and an impeller that throws it. Its skids adjust the height and therefore are good for gravel. Most of these are self-propelled.
Often, removing the snow is just the first step in the process of making your driveways and walkways snow and ice-free. Dealing with the ice left behind is the next challenge. Ice does not just freeze on the pavement, it freezes to the pavement. Breaking that bond, or keeping it from forming in the first place, is the task of chemical de-icers or anti-icers.
A de-icer is a chemical agent that is spread on snow or ice. It does not melt all the snow; it seeps through to the surface of the pavement and melts the ice there, breaking the bond and making it easier to remove the snow.
An anti-icer is a chemical agent that is applied before the snowfall begins. It prevents the bonding, thereby facilitating the removal of snow down to the surface of the pavement.
There are many chemicals and chemical blends available to use as de-icers and anti-icers. While the chemistry is simple, the choice of which to use is not. Many factors must be considered and much of the information is confusing or even conflicting.The most common de-icer has been rock salt. The indirect damage and environmental concerns were offset by its cost-effectiveness. Any de-icing chemical has the potential to harm the environment if misused. Some will chemically attack concrete. All must be used strictly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Over application of any can damage vegetation. Those products claiming to be made from fertilizing ingredients can cause harm. If you apply the chemicals as precipitation begins, their effectiveness is increased and the amount needed is diminished.