Each winter brings with it the drudgework of keeping walkways and driveways clear of snow. It’s toilsome, tiresome work. And it’s dangerous work, too. (Of course, you can let TLC Inc. handle it for you by purchasing a snow-removal contract!).
But whether you handle your own snow removal, or let us take care of it for you, there could still be a thin residue of ice left on walkways and entryways. That’s particularly likely when the temperature fluctuates above and below freezing, allowing remaining traces of snow to melt and then refreeze into a thin ice layer.
It’s a serious problem, because lots of people are injured every winter from taking a tumble on an icy walkway. And if you ignore ice-coated walkways on your property, you’re exposing yourself to a legal liability. You might find yourself the target of a slip-and-fall lawyer.
But there’s a relatively easy solution to the problem.
Use Ice-Melt Products to Keep Walkways Safe
There are a number of products available that you can simply sprinkle along your walkways to melt the ice away. They are made of chemicals that have the effect of lowering the freezing temperature of water.
Before selecting an ice-melt product, be sure to read the label carefully. You’ll want to know:
- How damaging the product might be to nearby vegetation. If the principle active ingredient, for example, is sodium chloride (table salt), the product might kill vegetation that it contacts.
- The temperature-effectiveness of the product. Some ice-melt products will melt ice at temperatures as low as -25° F. Others may loose effectiveness and allow water to re-freeze if the temperature falls below 20° F.
- Corrosiveness. Some products may have a corrosive effect upon certain types of metals.
Apply Carefully, and According to Label Instructions
Just as with any other product, using ice-melt products properly will get you the best results, and avoid the problems that can come from misuse. Mistakes that are commonly made with these products include:
- Improper Application. Follow label instructions that advise where, when and how to use the product. In the case of a heavy snowfall, the snow must be removed before applying the ice-melt product. (Most products can be applied before an anticipated snowfall.) Ice-melt products should probably not be used on very porous surfaces, such as brick.
- Overuse. More is always better, right? Not when it comes to the use of ice-melt products. Applying more than necessary increases the risk of collateral damage to vegetation or metal structures. And applying more than label recommendations will not yield faster or better results. Most products, in fact, don’t even need to be applied at a rate that completely covers the surface. That’s because the ice-melt product is designed to dissolve as the ice melts, and spread out to cover the entire surface.
- Choosing the Wrong Product. Since the many products available offer a range of effectiveness at different temperatures, a product that may be highly effective in some situations may not work for your situation, and vice-versa. Some products, called endothermic deicers, are most effective when used in sunny areas, because they absorb and release the heat of the sun. Other products are exothermic, meaning they produce and release heat through chemical reactions. You must read the label to know whether a product will be the best suited for your circumstances.
Keep in mind, too, that some products are more likely to cause collateral damage, such as burning vegetation. So you’ll need to read labels and juggle all the variables to decide which product will serve you best. It might even be that a combo of products will be your best bet, with each product most suited for a particular portion of your property.
Don’t Forget the Cleanup…
Once the frigid blast has passed, and nothing remains of the ice but a watery residue, you might want to hose away the remains. You’ll probably want to focus your cleanup in areas that contribute to residues being tracked into your home – the porch, for example. A gentle rainfall will be sufficient to rinse the residue away from other areas.
And use track mats placed both inside and outside to help prevent the residue of ice-melt products from being deposited upon your indoor floors. The residue can be quite harmful to carpets and wood floor finishes.
Though ice-melt products come with their own set of drawbacks, they can help to make your home a much safer place during a winter blast. After all, a bit of residue cleanup is much easier to deal with than a broken bone – or a lawsuit.