The only thing that makes snow shoveling easier is when someone else is doing it! Come first snowfall and most of us are excited to get started and experiment with creative snow removal ideas. However, the task isn’t easy and it is backbreaking work, depending on how much snow you have had. However, there are a few things you can do to make this task easier. Let us take a look at ways to make shoveling snow easier and also prevent ice on the driveway.
1. Invest in a good shovel
An ergonomically designed shovel can prevent injuries and reduces the strain on the muscles. A small shovel may not lift too much snow whereas a larger shovel could easily fill up to 15 pounds of snow. Whatever size you choose, do ensure that the handle is long enough that you don’t have to bend and strain your back. Having the right shovel can significantly reduce the strain on your muscles.
2. Coat your shovel with floor wax or cooking spray
As soon as the weather turns cold and you are expecting your first snow, coat your shovel with floor wax or liberally spray it with non-stick cooking spray. This helps prevent the shovel from rusting and also lets the snow glide straight off its surface. Make sure you let the shovel dry completely after spraying it with non-stick cooking oil. This will enhance your ‘nonstick’ shoveling action.
3. Know if your body is ready for shoveling
Snow shoveling is a rigorous activity and your body should be prepared for it. If you are used to physical activity or workout regularly, then that can make snow shoveling a lot easier. Snow shoveling involves bending the back and straining the muscles of the arms, shoulders, and even the neck and the legs. So if you are not used to working out regularly, or even if you are, remember that this activity can cause aches, pains, and fatigue. In general, people with heart problems must not perform this rigorous activity and should, ideally, find someone to outsource the job. If it is an absolute must, get your physician’s clearance before performing this task.
It is a good idea to do some warm-up exercises before shoveling. This will prepare your body for the hard work ahead. You can march in place, or do some jumping jacks, squats, and lunges. Stretch the arms and back too, before you begin.
5. Dress appropriately
An important part of driveway snow removal preparation is to dress warmly. Wear clothes in layers to stay warm and make sure to keep the outermost clothing layer waterproof. Protect your hands with good-quality gloves. Wear appropriate shoes that won’t allow snow and water to get inside. Some people like to wear goggles or scarves to cover their faces from the wind. This is a good idea as long as it does not obstruct your vision. Make sure you can see the icy patches while shoveling the driveway.
6. Practice a good posture while shoveling
In order to make snow shoveling a little easier, you must push the snow instead of lifting it. You may also separate hands to increase leverage when holding the shovel. If lifting the snow is imperative, then try and pick smaller loads. Also, while lifting, use your knees more than you use your back. Bend the knees slightly and squat while keeping the back straight. As you lift the snow, straighten your knees instead of bending the waist.
7. Walk to where you are piling the unwanted snow
In order to reduce the strain on your spine, walk over with your snow-filled shovel and toss the snow aside instead of turning and twisting your back.
8. Take frequent rest stops
If you have a partner or neighbor to help you, you can take turns in shoveling. In case you are removing the snow on your own, make sure you rest for a while. Sip on some water in between to keep your body hydrated. You can also perform some stretches to relax the back and arm muscles. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine as these substances dehydrate the body. They also constrict the blood vessels and strain the heart.
9. Stop if you experience pain
Driveway snow removal is always a priority but not at the cost of your health. If you experience pain, stop right away. You can always continue the job later.
10. Use baking soda on driveways
The easiest way to prevent ice on the driveway (without salt) is with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda liberally all over the driveway. It is non-toxic and won’t spoil your shoes; it is also safe for the environment and the ground. You could even bring some of it indoors on your floors and carpets and they’d actually end up cleaner too!
11. Try some salt
This is a traditional way of preventing ice on the driveways. Table salt, Epsom salt, or rock salt is usually readily available in our pantry or garages. Use these to de-ice your driveway. To get rid of existing ice and prevent further ice-buildup, spread sand or gravel on the driveway. Then apply rock salt or table salt on the sand. These prevent icy buildup.
12. Use anti-snow liquids/de-icers
Even State Highway departments swear by de-icers and anti-snow liquid sprays. All you have to do is spray the de-icer on your driveway, road in front of your house, and the sidewalk. This not only ‘eats up’ the snow and ice, but it also prevents future deposits from sticking to the roads. There are many inexpensive brands of de-icers available in the market, and little goes a long way. Moreover, these products are safe for the environment, pets, wild animals, and even the carpets indoors. You can also use de-icing liquids on your shingles, roofs, slate, brick, cement, or concrete. The products are also harmless to grass and plants. Apply the product before a snowstorm; a driveway of 20’x50’ would need about one gallon of the liquid.
13. Electric roof cables and heating pads for steps and driveways
If you want to get away with the drudgery of shoveling snow, you can use electric heating cables on the roof. Snow dams tend to form on the roofs and choke up the gutters. Structural damage to the roof from heavy snowfall can lead to huge renovation costs. All this can be prevented with electric heating cables.
Electric heating cables can be fastened to the shingles and a downspout helps carry the melted water away from the gutters down to the ground. Likewise, you can use mats of pre-spaced heating cables that come in different sizes to fit stair steps or sidewalks and driveways. Operating costs for a 30-ft driveway with 18-inch wide mats consuming about 50 watts per sq. ft could go up to $50 depending on the city you live in. Heated driveways can prevent ice formation and are especially recommended for elderly homeowners living alone.
14. Heated fluid melting systems
Another way to prevent ice on the driveways is to use a heated fluid system under the pavements, driveways, and sidewalks. Pipes carry the heated anti-freeze or oil and help circulate the melting snow. Manufacturers of such systems provide complete package arrangements from site inspect, design, materials, and labor. Needless to say, the cost of such systems can be very high.
15. Use driveway covers or tarps
Sometimes, for light snowfall, gigantic tarps or covers can protect your driveways and prevent the need for strenuous shoveling the next day. However, the method is not very reliable in case of very heavy snowfall as the covers can easily get buried under several feet of snow. Lifting the tarps can then be very difficult and you would need muscle power for the job.
16. Use utility vehicles with attachments
If you have a tractor or a utility vehicle, use proper attachments to remove the snow. A sweeper attachment can remove snow from paved areas. Bucket attachment helps remove big piles of snow while snow throwers prevent piles in the first place by tossing the snow away from the area it is being cleared. Front mount blades are the most popular attachments and they range in width up to 66 inches. Snowblowers or throwers collect the snow and throw it out of a chute. This works on gravel and paved surfaces.
17. Use creative ideas for snow removal
Make snow shoveling a game. Involve your kids and neighbors to shovel as much snow as they can. The one with the biggest pile cleared wins! You can also encourage your children to make an igloo or use the piled snow to make several snowmen. This can help clear off the driveway in no time!
There are many ways to get rid of snow easily and also prevent ice on the driveways. We hope these methods help you clear out your driveway off snow in no time!