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You’d be hard pressed to find a homeowner who likes shovelling snow. Braving the cold to dig out the driveway, the sidewalk and the stairway can be gruelling work. It’s time-consuming, it can hurt your back and it only gets worse when you add ice into the equation.
For those of us who live in northern climates, snow removal is an inevitable and essential part of winter. Luckily, there are ways to approach the task that can save you time and energy. Here are six snow and ice removal tips that will make your job a little easier when the winter weather strikes.
1. Use the Right Equipment
It’s important to remember that the repeated motion of shovelling heavy snow is not easy on our back muscles. If you are going to be routinely shovelling each winter, you should invest in a good shovel that will ease the strain on your back.
Not all shovels are created equal. Ergonomic shovels are designed with a curved handle which can reduce stress and strain as you move snow. You can also purchase an additional handle that sits further down the shaft. This added handle allows you to lift snow while staying in a more upright position. It might take a few sessions to get used to this curved design, but your back will thank you in the long run. Using a shovel with galvanized steel strip at the bottom can also be a big asset when it comes to breaking up stubborn ice layers.
2. Stretch and Watch Your Technique
Shovelling snow can often feel like an impromptu workout. Considering you would never plan to workout without stretching first, the same rule should apply before shovelling snow. Stretching out your lower back muscles, arms and hamstrings for about 5-10 minutes before and after you shovel can go a long way to prevent discomfort. The technique also matters when you shovel:
- Whenever possible, push the snow rather than lift it.
- Never lift with your back; lower your hips and lift with your legs.
- If there is a lot of snow, remove it in lighter layers.
- As heroic as you may feel, try not to throw shovelfuls of snow halfway across the driveway to the lawn. Instead, try walking it over to where it needs to go.
3. Try Coating Your Shovel Before You Start
It never hurts to save a little time and energy when you’re shovelling your driveway. Whether it’s early in the morning and you’re late for work, or it’s late at night and you just want to be inside, you should explore anything that expedites the process.
Coating your shovel and shovel blade in sprayable silicon, a thin layer of wax, or even cooking spray will help prevent snow from sticking to it. That way, every shovelful of snow, slush and ice that you pick up slides off effortlessly and nothing ends up back on the driveway. It’s a simple little way to improve efficiency.
4. De-Ice the Area Before the Snow Falls
Laying down a de-icing substance before a snowfall is a great way to mitigate snow and ice build-up. Not only will it help create a loose layer at the bottom of the accumulated pile for easier removal, the lack of ice and compacted snow will also make for safer shovelling. Less ice means more traction. This tip is key for homeowners with sloped driveways.
If possible, avoid using straight rock salt to de-ice your driveway. While rock salt is effective down to -15°C (5°F), it can be harmful to plant life and to your driveway. Ice Melt blends are an excellent alternative. They contain substances like calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate which are less corrosive, less harmful to your driveway, your pets and to surrounding plant life. Ice Melt blends can also work in far lower temperatures than rock salt when they are used properly.
5. Use these Tips for Cars, Steps, and Landings
- Using rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle can help de-ice your car windshield. Use it alongside a scraper for the best results.
- Avoid using hot water to melt ice on windshields. This may seem like the right move, but the sudden change from cold to hot could potentially crack your windshield.
- Lukewarm water can work wonders to de-ice smaller areas like steps, landings, car handles and railings. Apply the water and use a squeegee, a mop or a cloth to remove the runoff immediately. Repeat the process until the ice is gone.
6. Book Snow Removal With Jiffy and Forget the Shovelling
The best way to make shovelling easier is to avoid it altogether. Booking snow removal with Jiffy is a quick and easy way to ensure a clear driveway without lifting a finger. For an affordable rate, a Jiffy Pro will clear a four-car driveway, your sidewalk, your porch and one walkway. Simply fill in your order details, your address and your desired time and we’ll dispatch the nearest snow removal Pro. No contracts, no shovels, no sore back.