As temperatures drop, it’s time to start stocking up for the ice and snow. It’s not here yet but could be any day! While ice might be fun on a skating rink, it can definitely be a pain (literally!) when it’s around your home. To help ease you into the colder months, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things you can do to get rid of the slippery stuff and prevent problems down the road.
Do Use a Pet-Friendly Ice Salt
Ice salt is a surefire way to get rid of the ice on the driveway and sidewalk – but some salts aren’t healthy for pets. They work by heating up the surrounding area as they draw moisture in. This continues to happen when the salt gets on an animal’s paws, and it can hurt. This also poses a risk if they lick their feet and ingest the chemicals. Yuck!
Pet-friendly ice salt is available at many stores, and it’s only a bit more than the regular stuff. If you have pets, this is a great option to keep them safe as possible. Even if you don’t have pets of your own, it’s nice to use this to make sure other animals don’t get affected if coming to visit your home.
Don’t Put Salt on the Lawn
At the same time, you want to be careful about where you’re placing your salt. It’s very important to make sure to keep it within the actual driveway and not over the edge. When it gets on the lawn, it can kill the grass. Even worse, it changes the pH balance of the soil – making it hard to grow grass in these areas once the snow melts in the spring. Take care when you’re spreading your salt.
Do Check the Insulation in Your Attic
Ice dams – frozen chunks of ice in the gutters that eventually cause icicles – often occur in homes where there’s insufficient insulation in the attic. The heat from the home escapes into the attic, and a warm attic melts snow on the roof from below. However, when the water rolls down into the cold metal gutters, it instantly freezes again. In a brand new home, you should have sufficient insulation in the attic, but this is worth investigating if you live in an older home.
Don’t Forget to Clean Your Gutters Before the Snow Comes
Even if you’re only dealing with the snow naturally melting from the roof, it has to have a place to go. Falling leaves in autumn can block the gutters, and if the melting snow can’t flow freely, it will back up and freeze (another cause of ice damming). To prevent this, make sure you clean out the gutters once all of the leaves are off of the trees.
Do Use a Roof Rake to Get Large Amounts of Snow Off Your Roof
In general, Winnipeg homes are built with roofs strong enough to withstand the snow – especially new homes. Still, if you get an unusually large amount of snow over a few days, it’s good to remove the excess if possible. A thick layer of heavy snow also makes ice dams more likely and, for older homes especially, cause damage to the roof.
The roof rake is an easy solution for this. It carefully scrapes most of the snow off of your roof without damaging the shingles and will be readily available in most homes goods stores.
Don’t Use an Ice Pick to Remove Ice
If you do end up with some ice dams around the home, resist the urge to use an ice pick. This sharp tool can chip away at the ice, but it can also poke holes in the roof or the gutters. This is an expensive mistake to make. Surprisingly, it’s better to wait until the dams melt, then fix the root cause of the problem.
It’s also tempting to use an ice pick to chip away at stubborn areas on your driveway or sidewalk. Keep in mind that too much force can damage and crack the concrete underneath.
Do Be Safe
Ultimately, you want to be safe. This means you need to lay enough salt down to fully melt the ice rather than skimping to save some money. It also means you need to be careful about dealing with ice and snow on the roof. If you have a single-storey home, it may not be a big deal to take care of things on your own. However, those with multi-storey homes should consider getting professional help for these tasks.
The snow and ice can be pretty, but they are also dangerous. With our tips, your home should be safer throughout the winter. For more handy home safety tips, check out our previous post, “Smart Ways to Protect Your New Home“.