In many regions, snowfall is simply a part of winter. And whether you get a few inches or a few feet, it’s important to remove snow from your property’s walkways, stairs and paths, as well as occasionally from your roof.
While snow removal may seem simple, done incorrectly, shoveling snow can be linked to injury and even death. At the same time, waiting too long to shovel, or using improper techniques, can mean that your home and property aren’t as easy to navigate or as safe as they should be.
If you avoid these common snow removal mistakes, then you will do this chore correctly every time.
1. Delaying Removing Snow
The biggest mistake most people make in snow removal is simply waiting too long. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you’ve only had a few inches fall, but for several inches — or feet — of snow, you need to begin promptly.
The more snow that accumulates, the heavier and harder it is to remove. By shoveling and removing snow frequently, you make the job easier and are less likely to risk straining yourself. You also prevent the snow from melting and refreezing, which can make it slicker to walk on, and more difficult to remove.
If you choose to contract a snow removal service — which usually costs between $75 and $150 per visit — it’s best to do so before the winter season. Removal services often book up ahead of a storm, so waiting until the last minute may mean having to do the work yourself.
2. Improper Technique
Most people think that the best way to shovel snow is to scoop, lift and toss the snow by the shovelful. Unfortunately, this method is more likely to lead to overexertion and injury and isn’t going to get the snow removed any faster than the correct method.
To shovel properly, make multiple passes at the snow as it falls, trying to keep up with the snowfall so that you are shoveling 2 to 3 inches at a time. Using your shovel, push the snow across the surface you need it removed from. Do not lift or toss.
3. Making Narrow Paths
One of the most common places you’ll remove snow from is your walkway or the place people enter your home from. It can be tempting to shovel out a narrow path that’s big enough to pass through but not much more, but this can lead to problems over time.
Paths tend to narrow as the season goes on, with more snow falling, and existing snowbanks melting and refreezing. If your path is wide when you begin, any narrowing that occurs won’t obscure it.
4. Delaying Removing Snow from the Roof
Snow on your roof isn’t a big concern if you only have a few inches fall. But if the snow keeps falling, you may need to take steps to remove the snow. Too many people don’t know the right time and risk roof damage.
The proper time to remove snow from your roof is when it reaches 60 pounds per square foot or more. This can look like 6 inches of packed snow or 12 inches or more of fluffy snow.
5. Not Using Pet-Safe Ice Melt
It often helps to throw down a layer of salt or ice melt after you’ve finished shoveling an area. When you do this, it helps melt any residual ice and can help prevent more light snow from sticking. Unfortunately, many ice melts and road salts can be toxic to animals and your landscaping.
Pet-safe ice melt can help make sure that your pets and wild animals remain safe from toxic salts and chemicals. They’re also less corrosive to landscaping, so you’re less likely to deal with issues in the spring.
Remove Your Snow Safely
Snow removal can be tedious as well as expensive. But if you take steps to remove the snow safely and correctly at all times, you will keep your property safe this winter, no matter how much snow falls.