Condo Blues: 7 Tips for Shoveling Snow

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Tips for Shoveling Snow

This winter there’s no business! Like snow business! Like snow business I know!

Hey, I’m just trying to lighten the mood since we we broke snow and cold records this winter. It is warmer in Alaska than it is in the Lower 48 right now. Crazy!

Tonight they predicted we will get more snow. You know what that means.


And lots of it.


If you can't find a kid wanting to make a quick buck on a snow day, you’ll have to shovel it yourself. If that’s the case, here are some snow removal tips to keep in mind and to prepare you for what lies ahead. 

1. Be proactive and apply ice melt products before predicted snow falls. I used to use rock salt (sodium chloride) because it is cheap, plentiful, and works until the temperature dips below 5 degrees F. Unfortunately rock salt also pits and destroys concrete sidewalks. Rock salted can burn pet's paw pads if they walk on it and burn their stomach and digestive system when they lick the salt off their paws. 

That’s why I switched to pet safe ice melts that do not contain sodium chloride. This type of ice melt is also safe to use around animals, plants, concrete, brick, and stone. It is a little more expensive than rock salt but it makes up for that by not paying to have our sidewalk or driveway resurfaced in the summer or for extra vet bills because Lacey likes to eat snow.

We like Safe Paw Non-Toxic Ice Melter Pet Safe on Amazon because we can save some coin buying it though Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. 

2. Clear the snow as it falls – It is easier to clear your driveway or sidewalk as the snow falls rather than waiting for a large amount to accumulate.

3. Brush snow off a car parked in the driveway before shoveling the snow in the driveway You’d be amazed how many times I made my job harder by not following this advice. If I have more snow to clear than my car’s ice scraper and brush can handle, I use a broom with soft bristles (usually made with synthetic materials. Sorry Mother Earth) so I won’t scratch the paint on the car.

4. Remove snow from the center out and using the shortest distance you can Basically, don’t work any harder than you have to by removing the snow from the area once. For example, if you are clearing a two car driveway, start at the center top of the driveway and remove the snow from the center to the yard on the right hand side of the driveway. Once you clear from the center top to the center bottom of the driveway, return to the center top of the driveway and remove the rest of the snow from the center of the driveway to the yard on the left hand side of the driveway.

5. Throw the snow as far away as you can – When removing snow from sidewalks and driveways, try to throw it as far into the yard as you can. This will help avoid the snow from falling into the cleared path when the next storm rolls through.

If you get a lot of snowfall or have large areas of snow to clear you may want to consider buying a snow blower. Just like anything, there are different snow thrower with features that work best for different situations. I personally don’t have one so I can’t give you any tips on what to look for but I found this snow thrower finder if you need help deciding what features will work best for your area.


My Dad’s test run on his recently upgraded his snow thrower. A snow blower like this is too much for us but works for him because he gets a lot more snow than we do.

6. Consider using something with more than people power if you dealing with packed snow, sludge, and ice   When the ice melt and a manual snow shovel aren't cutting it, we pull out our electric snow shovel since we have more ice issues from melting and refreezing than with snow issues on our short walk and driveway. 

For larger driveways and sidewalks, consider using a dual-stage snow thrower. This type of snow thrower has one auger that pulls the snow into the machine and a second auger at the base of the chute that throws the snow.

8. DIY a cab for your snow blower if hate being covered in snow   I love this idea! Sometimes it seems like our electric snow shovel throws more snow on me than anywhere else. If it has a hot chocolate dispenser inside the cab, I’d clear the whole neighborhood just for fun.

7. Properly your store snow removal tools after the season – Wash any rock salt/ice melt residue from your tools and allow them to dry or they may rust. Close containers or bags of ice melt and rock salt because they can evaporate in an open bag over the summer (want to know how I know?) We use 5 Gallon Bucket With Screw On Lid because it is easier to open and close while wearing gloves. It also keeps Lacey out. 

  This food grade bucket is overkill for ice melt but it was cheaper than buying a regular storage bucket and screw on lid separately.

Be sure to drain the gas out of your snow thrower before putting it in storage since bad gas is the number one reason for repair. A good rule is drain the gas out of the snow thrower when you service your lawn mower in the spring and drain the gas out of your lawn mower when you service your snow blower in late fall.

What are you snow shoveling tips?

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