Winter DIY: How to Remove Snow Yourself

Whether you’ve been caught unawares by a freak overnight snowstorm or your local store is out of rock salt, you’re likely wondering how to remove snow yourself. If your HOA dues don’t include plowing or you’re just looking to save a few bucks, here’s a few tricks to get rid of snow.

Always keep safety in mind. If your driveway or street are especially icy, it may be wise to call a professional, such as those at Transblue. Some chemicals used for de-icing can be dangerous to pets and plants, and others should only be used in lawns to prevent sewer runoff. Take caution in de-icing and removing snow yourself to ensure that you’re doing so safely.

In this article, we’ll be covering the following:

How to Prepare Before it Snows

If there’s snow in the forecast or the flakes have just begun to fall, you have the advantage. Head out to the store to pick up any supplies you might need, such as rock salt, a shovel, or a tarp, before conditions get too bad.

You likely know what the rock salt and shovel are for, but a tarp is a great tool for snow prep. Lay it down on your driveway, over your car, on the sidewalk, or anywhere else you want to keep clear of snow. Even if it accumulates all night, you can remove the tarp, shaking the snow off somewhere out of the way, and you’ll have a perfectly clear, snow- and ice-free pathway.

How to Shovel Snow

A shovel is a tool—if you’re going to effectively remove snow, you need to know how to use it properly.

First, spray your shovel with cooking spray before you get started. This will help keep snow from building up on your shovel, making it more effective. 

Second, don’t plan on shoveling once and being done. Once you know snow is coming, make a plan to shovel every couple of hours or every couple inches. Not only is it easier to remove two inches of snow than it is to remove four, six, or twelve inches of snow, but this also prevents the dreaded problem of snow melting and re-freezing. You’re also less likely to get fatigued, which can cause serious health issues

How to Remove Snow Without a Shovel

If it’s already snowing and you find yourself without a shovel, don’t panic. There are a few ways to get rid of the fluffy white menace without resorting to using your hands. 

If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can either use it to suck up snow and dump it out of the way or turn it into a blower by reversing the airflow according to the manual. Don’t overload the vacuum and be sure to take breaks to keep it in good working order.

If you have a leafblower, it can also work great as a snow removal tool. Just like your vacuum, try not to overload it. If conditions get worse, you’ll want to keep it on hand; use it to remove what you need and take regular breaks to ensure that both it and you and in good working order!

How to De-Ice Your Driveway

Once the snow begins to accumulate, you may run into another problem: ice. Ice is especially dangerous and frustrating, as it can both cause slips and falls and be remarkably difficult to get rid of. Here are some tips for removing and treating ice around your home.

Salts and Other Common De-Icers

Rock salt is the typical go-to for homeowners looking to de-ice their driveway or porch. However, keep in mind that rock salt can be irritating to the skin, mouth, or stomach if handled or ingested, especially by pets and children. It can also wreak havoc on local ecosystems, and even cause a sodium spike in well water, which can prove especially harmful for people with high blood pressure, so use only what you absolutely need.

If you can’t or don’t want to use salt, there are many other alternative de-icers. Potassium and magnesium chloride are two other possible alternatives, though both can cause similar or more severe reactions in pets that ingest them. Calcium salts are the harshest and have the most impact on pets.

Urea is a common alternative frequently marketed as pet-safe, but it can also cause stomach irritation or other issues if ingested. Keep pets and children away from any de-icer, just to be safe.

Salt Alternatives

Though salt and similar chemicals are what most people use for de-icing, there are other options. Beet or pickle juice are popular, environmentally friendly alternatives, though harder to find in large quantities. 

If those two are off the table, you can try their major ingredient: sugar. Sugar isn’t as effective as salt, but if your local shops are sold out and you need a quick fix, it’ll get the job done. Sugar is better in some senses for the environment but may cause an increase in bacteria in local waterways, potentially making animals sick. Again, only use as much as you need exactly where you need it to prevent excessive runoff.

If you have a small space you need to defrost, mixing one teaspoon dish soap, one tablespoon rubbing alcohol, and a half-gallon of water can also melt ice. Use a spray bottle—a little bit goes a long way, and you can apply the treatment in layers so you make the most of it. 

Regardless of what de-icer you use, you’ll want to add traction to your walkway as well. Sand—the kind you find in sandboxes, not mason’s sand—works great if sprinkled over ice and snow. Though it won’t help with melting, it adds grit to prevent slipping. Cat litter and baking soda work similarly, so use whatever is most convenient to keep your home safe and slip-free throughout the winter.

What are your home de-icing tips? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for expert snow removal for your business, contact the Transblue franchise nearest you—we’d love to help keep you and your customers safe this winter. We’re also proud to install slip-resistant pavers and concrete to help make your home even safer, so give us a call today!

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