In Berks County, winter brings snow and ice that homeowners must clear from their properties. Having snow or ice on the driveway can present a safety hazard. Residents as well as those who are selling their homes this season find this to be particularly problematic. As well as making it difficult to enter a building safely, heavy snow and ice can damage the home, lowering its value. As a result, you should usually take care of the snow and ice around your house in a timely manner after each snowfall.

Investing in equipment or hiring a snow removal service are both ways to accomplish this. Here are five tips for removing snow and ice this winter to keep you and your property safe. Start early and often.

When snow accumulates on walkways, steps, and your roof, it becomes heavier. Ice, which is even more hazardous than packed snow, forms when it partially melts, then refreezes. Early and frequent snow removal makes it safer and easier. You can also prevent problems such as too much weight on your roof by removing snow before it has a chance to build up. 

Wetter snow falling at higher temperatures is heavier and will need to be removed more often than drier snow.

Use the Right Ice Melt

It is possible to keep steps clear with ice melt and rock salt by eliminating any leftover snow that melted and refroze, and in some cases by preventing refreezing from occurring. The wrong ice melt can be poisonous for pets and harmful to landscaping, however. When you coat your walkways or driveway with ice melt, the runoff will end up in your landscaping, and it could result in some dead or brown plants come spring. Pets and other animals crossing your driveway may pick up some of the ice melt on their feet. If they lick their feet clean later, this could poison them. Always use a pet safe ice melt to avoid these issues, and make sure that you apply it frequently to prevent any refreezing. 

Push Snow, Don’t Lift It

It can be tempting to try to lift up big shovelfuls of snow and toss them aside to clear your paths. But doing so can quickly lead to fatigue, as well as to potential injuries to your shoulders and back. The recommended method of shoveling snow by the National Safety Council is to push snow, not lift it. 

If you’re shoveling often, so the snow isn’t building up and getting heavy, then it’s usually easy to push the snow along the walk or driveway and out of the way. If you struggle with this technique, there are two-handled shovels that are designed for easier pushing; they can clear a lot of snow in very short periods of time, without potentially harming your back. 

Get a Long Handled Rake

Having a little snow on your roof isn’t going to hurt it. But if you live in an area that sees snow storm after snow storm with little to no melting in between, then the built-up snow could start to cause some issues. Once snow reaches the weight of 20 pounds per foot, it can begin to be too much for the structure of your roof. If left in place, it can cause leaks and roof damage at a minimum and a potential cave in at the worst. 

While you can hire someone to come and clear the snow off for you, it’s also easy to remove at least some of it yourself. Purchase a long-handled snow rake and use it to drag or pull the snow off of the roof. Even if you can’t reach all the snow, just getting the bulk of it off your roof can help prevent future problems. 

Make Wide Paths

You might be tempted to clear a path just wide enough to pass through when you start shoveling. The problem with this, however, is that as the snow melts and refreezes, as well as continues to fall, paths often start to narrow and become more difficult to travel. This can make it dangerous to walk through your property. By making your paths extra wide, you can eliminate this problem. Even if they shrink a little as the winter continues, they should still stay wide enough to allow safe passage to and from your front door.

Practice Snow Safety this Winter

Snow and ice can be a serious hazard for homeowners and for potential buyers, as well as for the home itself. Make sure that you practice snow safety and remove snow and ice in a timely manner this winter to avoid these issues yourself. 

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