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Winter 2015 is expected to bring more snow to the East and colder temperatures to the South and Midwest. It seems like we hear these horrid predictions every year and as such, if you live in these areas, one must know how to deal with a tough winter.
Snow removal is perhaps the most intense and time-consuming chore many of us have to endure every winter, but sadly, it’s also one of the most necessary. Without proper snow removal tricks, you could miss your driveway, slip as you grab the mail or sadly, ruin your curb appeal once all that white fluff disappears.
That is why I have come up with six snow removal tricks and tips. If you’re expecting snow, you way want to read on.
1. Put Tall Stakes Around Driveway, Walkway & Sidewalk
In Chicago we know a thing or two about snowfall. After all, we did experience the polar vortex in 2014. Therefore, when we say it is vital to put large stakes on the outskirts of your driveway, walkway and sidewalk, we mean it.
These helpful reminders show you and your snow plow company where to shovel, plow and melt. While it may be obvious for you to locate your driveway, the same can not be said of your snow removal service. They plow hundreds of streets and driveways and as you know, not all are the same. Make it easy to find your driveway or you could be faced with a ruined yard come spring.
Looking for some help? According to our snow removal cost estimator, the average price to professionally remove snow is $189.
2. Buy A Good Shovel
We understand the desire to buy a cheap shovel. After all, we don’t really use it year-round, so why fork over all that money? Well, once those first few inches hit your driveway, you’ll be thankful you purchased the right shovel.
I recommend a shovel with a medium-sized plastic or aluminum blade with a nonstick finish. While larger shovels may seem logical, it will bring back and arm stiffness later on. S-shaped shovels are good for removing heavy snowfall and C-shaped shovels are better for pushing and removing light, fluffy snow. For those in the East and Midwest, make sure you own an s-shaped shovel.
3. Shovel Often
We understand that shoveling is a hassle, tiring and just plain boring. As a result, many wait until there are at least a few inches of snow until we shovel. Do your best to fight the urge and shovel as often as you can.
When snow starts to pile up and temperatures drop below freezing, it tends to stick or freeze to your driveway, walkway and sidewalk. In fact, even with cold temperatures above freezing, it can still stick. Stop it in its tracks by shoveling before it gets a chance to stick. Sticky snow brings ice and that is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
4. Salt Everything
Even if we shovel as often as possible, ice will undoubtedly make its way around your yard. As a result, shovels just won’t cut it. You must attack ice with salt, sand or kitty litter.
As most Americans tend to lean towards salt, rock salt is the cheapest and very accessible across the market. Sadly, it does not work when the temperature drops below 12°F and can eat away at your concrete. If you want to avoid a hefty driveway repair bill, I highly recommend using rock salt in moderation.
For colder areas of the country, look into magnesium chloride or calcium chloride.
5. Snow Blowers
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As a kid, I was always fascinated with snow blowers. Growing up in Chicago, I saw them at every corner and always wanted one. They seemed like a terrific winter toy. Now that I am grown up, I see why some homeowners bit the bullet and some stayed away.
Unsurprisingly, snow blowers get rid of snow faster than any other method mentioned in this article. If you’re expecting up to one and a half inches of snow every day this winter, it may be time to invest in a snow blower.
However, as you might expect, your typical snow blower costs more than salt or an average shovel. They range in price from $50 all the way up to $500.
6. Do Not Place Snow Near Foundation
As I mentioned in How To Avoid Frozen Pipes, your foundation and walls are vital in preventing frozen pipes. Therefore, piling snow around your home is not only dangerous for frozen pipes, but once it freezes, it could cause major cracks in your foundation.
Foundation repairs are never cheap and homeowners across the country should do whatever they can to avoid these expensive repairs.
Snow Removal Costs
As I said earlier, the average price for snow removal services is $189, however, this price can largely fluctuate.
Costs for removal of up to six inches of snow begin at $75. Some contractors will charge a lower fee for removal of smaller amounts, such as two inches. In most heavy snow regions, contracts may include higher rates for amounts of snow greater than six inches. A good rule of thumb for any removal project over six inches is to add $30 per additional half-foot of snow.
Snow removal services are highly negotiable when compared to other types of contracting work. Homeowners shouldn’t be afraid to seek a rate that’s more suitable to their needs. In heavy snowfall regions, there will be a number of contractors available to handle this type of work, so there’s no reason to avoid shopping around for the best rates available.
More snow and colder temperatures seem to always be on the horizon, but if you prepare and follow the guidelines mentioned above, you will have no problem this winter.
For more winter tips, please see How To Keep Your House Warm During The Winter.