Snow Removal Tips and Tools

Before the next snow hits, it is a good time to get out your snow removal tools to be sure you’re set for the next snow storm. But what kind of tools will you need to dig out? That depends on how prepared for snow removal you want to be. Here are some snow removal tips to help you remove the snow the easy way.

Shovel Selection:  Snow shovels today are light years ahead of the oversized aluminum spatulas we grew up with. Now you can choose plastic or metal shovels, big or small, and decide if you want the edge of your shovel to be scalpel sharp or as dull as a butter knife. There are even shovels with a bent handle designed to make it easier on those of us with bad backs. Since all shovels do the job, let your own judgment guide you.

Shovel Safety:  No matter how modern your shovel is, shoveling is hard work! To be safe, keep these snow removal tips in mind:

  • Snow Removal Tips and ToolsShovel right after the storm. The longer you wait, the heavier snow gets. Wet snow can weigh 20 lbs per shovel-full, or more, and one wrong turn of the shovel can throw your back out for good.
  • Pace yourself. If you haven’t been training for the next Ironman competition, take it easy! For most people, snow shoveling is an exhaustive aerobic activity you’re not used to. Work slowly and take plenty of breaks when snow shoveling to keep your heart rate down.
  • When shoveling, keep your knees bent and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Carry the snow to the place where you want to dump it from the shovel. Throwing the snow can twist your back, putting you out of commission for days.

Sidewalk Salt: Once the snow is shoveled, you need salt to melt ice that forms on walkways or steps. Choosing the right sidewalk salt is important. Traditional rock salt is extremely corrosive and can seriously harm concrete, leaving it pitted and worn.

A better choice is to use calcium chloride, a less corrosive product that melts through the ice, but doesn’t harm your sidewalk or your floors when it’s dragged into your house. Before winter sets in, pick up a bag of calcium chloride, mix in some sand, and keep it in an old trash can or bucket near your front door. This way, it’s easy to just reach in and sprinkle sidewalk salt on your steps and walkway whenever you need it.

Snow Blowers:  What if you want to be really ready for “the big one”? Snow blowers are a large investment but there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing one of these babies grind through a two foot pile of wet snow and send it 30 feet south faster then you can say “old man winter.”

Snow blowers run from $1,000 on up. With those prices, be sure you know what you’re buying. Remember, it’s more about the type of surface you’re clearning than the type of snow or even amount of snow. For a step-by-step buying guide on how to choose the right snow blower for you, visit Light duty “single phase” snow blowers should be used only on flat surfaces. You can’t use them on a gravel driveway for example, because the auger comes in direct contact with the ground. For more snow or a bigger area, you’ll need to bring in the heavy artillery. Two phase snow blowers are the most expensive, but two phase snowblowers are strong enough to cut through frozen snow that’s days old.

Remember the Boy Scout motto: always be prepared, at least when it comes to snow removal! Dust off your snow shovel, be the first on your block to buy sidewalk salt, and then just sit back, relax, and let it snow!

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