Snow Removal Tips for Property Owners

February 8, 2014
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Love it or hate it, snow is one of mother nature’s winter trademarks. For property owners, dealing with the chilly winter precipitation can be a hassle, but failing to remove snow and ice can cause potential safety hazards as well as threats to a home’s structure. While every city has its own rules and ordinances for snow removal, it is usually the property owner’s responsibility to keep paths and important accesses free from accumulation.

Here are a few snow removal tips for homeowners:

  1. Rental Property Owners – Address Snow Removal in Lease Agreement!
    If you own a single-family rental property, you may choose to include snow removal service, or you may opt to leave that responsibility to your tenants. Either way, make sure the issue is spelled out clearly in the lease agreement. Also, make sure the lease explains the exact requirements for snow and ice removal. How soon after the snowfall should paths and walkways be shoveled? How wide should the path be?
  2. Prevent Slips and Falls
    Use salt, sand or cat litter to help keep cleared pathways from getting too slippery. Salt and sand are usually the best way to go, since cat litter can contain chemicals that may leech into your soil. However, cat litter can be very useful in providing a solid ground surface with traction. You can also use alfalfa meal, which is a slow-acting fertilizer that provides traction and helps your yard at the same time.
  3. Check City Ordinances/HOA Rules
    Many city ordinances require property owners to to keep sidewalks clear of snow. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA), they may provide this service as part of your annual dues. Make sure you understand what you are responsible for as far as sidewalks and common areas if you live in a place with an HOA.
  4. Invest in a Snow Blower
    If you live in an area where snowfall is frequent and heavy, consider investing in a snow blower instead of relying on a shovel. While they may be more expensive, running anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand dollars, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and manual labor by going the snow blower route. There are two basic types of snow blowers: Single-stage and two-stage.According to The Weather Channel, single-stage snow blowers are best used in urban and suburban areas. Single-stage snow blowers “are lightweight and maneuverable; have a rubber edge auger that gets very close to the pavement; handle wet, heavy snow very well. But they will not handle the hard, icy accumulation left behind at the end of your driveway by the snowplow, and are not suitable for gravel.”

    The Weather Channel suggests using a two-stage blower if you need to clear a large driveway or handle drifting snow. Two-stage snow blowers have “an auger that breaks up the snow and an impeller that throws it. Its skids adjust the height and therefore are good for gravel. Most are self-propelled.”

  5.  Use Chemicals Carefully
    If you choose to use de-icing chemicals, make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them exactly. Chemicals can be very effective in removing and preventing icy, snowy accumulation. However, these chemicals can cause damage to different types of surfaces – even concrete. They can also be harmful to the environment if used improperly.
  6. Don’t Wait Too Long
    It’s better to remove snow sooner than later. Start shoveling, blowing or applying chemicals before the precipitation has a chance to accumulate. After all, it’s easier to remove 3 inches of snow than it is to shovel 6 inches. Plus, if you can clear away the sidewalks and driveway, the sunlight will help warm the surface and prevent ice from forming.
  7. Protect Your Home
    Don’t pile snow against your home’s exterior or foundation walls. This can cause water damage or cracks, especially if the snow/ice melts and refreezes. Take measures to protect your home’s roof from ice dams.
  8. Keep Your Roof Clear
    Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from your home’s roof.
  9. Hire a Pro
    Lastly, if you aren’t able to remove snow or ice from your property yourself, hire a professional to come out to your home to do it for you. Roofing companies will usually come out and remove snow from your roof, while landscaping companies will come out to clear walkways, driveways and paths.

You might also like: 


  • How to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal in Winter
  • Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter
  • Winter Storm Home Repairs

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