December is touted as the most wonderful time of the year as it’s filled with holiday greetings and happy meetings when friends and family get together. Driveways and sidewalks buried in snow and ice can get in the way of holiday cheer if your guests get their car stuck in the snow or slip on icy paths!
The Grounds Guys® offers professional snow and ice management services, and we’ve shared some seasonal tips to help home and business owners consider the skills, equipment and products needed, if they have choose to do it themselves.
For quarter-mile or longer driveways leading up to your private property, nothing beats hiring a snow management company to plow for you. For those with a pickup truck, buying a plow will help you tackle the job yourself. Use these snowplowing tips for the best results:
Angle the plow correctly
- V position: You should complete your first pass with the snowplow set to the V position when both blades angle backward toward the truck.
- Angle position: Switch to the angle position to widen the driveway after your initial pass. When plowing down the right side, angle the plow to the right and throw snow off in this direction. Angle the plow in the opposite way when plowing on the left side.
- Scoop position: You can push snow straight ahead if needed by positioning both blades outward into an inverted V shape.
- Straight position: Use this position if you need to back drag. This technique is used to remove snow from the edge of a building. Raise the straight blade over the snow pile, drive toward the building, lower the blade, and back up.
Handle deep snow properly
Starting in V position for the first pass, raise the plow up several inches to shear off the top layer of snow. Then change to a right or left angle-position to widen the road. Take more passes than you would with shallow snow to prevent overloading your truck.
Don’t quit halfway
Once you start the job, finish it. Half-plowed snow can melt partially and refreeze overnight, making it much more difficult or even impossible to plow the next day.
Make your home safe for friends who come to call by shoveling the sidewalks and walkways. Follow these snow shoveling tips to avoid injuring yourself or damaging the concrete:
Shovel in increments
It’s much easier to remove small quantities of snow, so if high accumulations are in the forecast, shovel for the first time while it’s still snowing. Shoveling in increments also helps you clear the path before foot traffic packs it down. You’ll need to shovel multiple times, but each time will be much easier than a single undertaking once all the snow has fallen.
Use the right equipment
Look for an ergonomic snow shovel with a curved handle for less bending. If melting snow has frozen into an impenetrable ice sheet, don’t break it up with an ice pick or you could take some of the concrete with it. Instead, use deicing products to help the ice melt faster.
Don’t get hurt
If you’re not in perfectly fit condition, shoveling can definitely strain your arms and back. Don’t overfill your shovel and carry snow to the pile you’re making rather than attempting to throw the snow a long distance. Avoid twisting and turning to protect your back. Harvard Medical School also warns of increased risk for heart attacks while shoveling or pushing snowblowers for those with previous heart attacks, high blood pressure and sedentary lifestyles. Think carefully before tackling such a strenuous job – having someone help may save your life!
Fall was the ideal time to clean dead leaves and other debris from your gutters and downspouts. If you failed to complete this task a month or two ago, it’s still not too late! Wait for a clear, relatively warm December day to clean your gutters and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
Why clean your gutters?
Clogged gutters fail to properly drain rainwater and snowmelt from the roof, which can lead to numerous problems, including:
- Ice dams: When snow on your roof melts, it rushes toward the gutters. If they’re clogged, the water freezes and ice starts to back up onto the roof. This creates an ice dam, which can damage shingles and allow water to leak into the attic, where it can damage insulation, rot wood, and promote mold growth.
- Slippery walkways: On especially warm winter days, clogged gutters allow snowmelt to run over the sides, dripping onto the driveway, porch, and sidewalk. When the temperature drops again at night, this water freezes into a dangerous sheet of ice.
- Damaged siding: Water trickling over the edge of clogged gutters can also run down the siding, freezing into icicles as it goes. This lingering moisture can lead to soggy, rotten siding, especially if it’s made of wood.
How to safely clean gutters
The most convenient way to have your gutters cleaned is to hire a landscape service company for the job. However, if you decide to take on the task yourself, follow these tips:
- Wear the right gear: Long pants, long sleeves, and work gloves protect your skin from debris in the gutters.
- Use an extendable ladder: Rather than climbing onto the roof, use a sturdy metal extendable ladder. Choosing one with standoff stabilizers helps prevent damaging the gutters.
- Employ the right techniques: Cover the lawn right below you with a plastic tarp. Remove gunk from the gutter with a scoop. You can buy a genuine gutter scoop or try a simple sandbox shovel. Dump the debris onto the tarp below you to spare your lawn.
- Flush the gutters: Carry a garden hose to the top of the ladder and flush the downspout to remove inaccessible debris. Use this time to check for leaks and patch them up if needed.
Numerous deicing products are available to help keep porch steps and sideways free of ice. Here are some of the most common deicers and how effective they are:
Also known as rock salt, this inexpensive deicer is only effective down to 25 degrees. Unfortunately, the salt can also corrode concrete and cause toxic chemical imbalances in the soil.
While up to three times more expensive than rock salt, you don’t have to use as much calcium chloride to be effective, even below 0 degrees. This deicer is also less harmful to vegetation. Unfortunately, calcium chloride can leave a residue behind that can damage carpeting and tile if you track it inside, and it can also irritate your pet’s feet.
Calcium magnesium acetate
This deicer is up to 10 times more expensive than rock salt, so it’s often used in rock salt blends to lower the cost. CMA is effective down to 20 degrees, lower in toxicity to plants than chloride-based products, and less corrosive to concrete.
With these snow management tips, your home and property won’t suffer ill effects from bad weather during the most wonderful time of the year! For more tips, or to schedule snow-plowing or gutter-cleaning services, please contact The Grounds Guys today!