A common issue in the winter in Winnipeg is the topic of getting rid of ice buildup. Many homeowner’s prefer to not have ice buildup on their properties for aesthetic reasons as well as safety reasons. Lots of people like the nice look of bare pavement and neatly piled snowbanks on their driveway, but could this aspiration be causing harm to their pavement?

The first thing we must do is discover how ice forms. Ice and hard pack snow can occur from traffic like walking or driving over freshly fallen snow, or from nearby melting. Melting can occur even if the temperature is below 0C if enough direct sunlight is beating down on the newly fallen snow. Melt water can also run off of roofs due to overflowing eaves troughs, downspouts, or downspouts that do not have extensions beyond the concrete surfaces beside the house. In fact the number one risk factor for slips and falls for our workers is near downspouts. A perfect storm of melted water forming ice and a slanted surface make these areas especially dangerous.

The other way hard packed snow can occur is from foot traffic or vehicle traffic which packs the snow so hard that it cannot be removed without great force. The number one key to combat this is to have the snow removed before traffic goes over the freshly fallen snow. Hero Snow Removal & Lawn Care Winnipeg does a good job of quick response however some households go in and out far more often than others so hard packed snow is just the reality.

So how do we get rid of hard packed snow and ice? Is there harm in getting rid of these conditions? There are 2 ways to get rid of these conditions and a third way to prevent the danger of these conditions.

Method 1 is to use great force to remove the snow. This can be accomplished with heavy equipment with very hard cutting blades. Heavy duty truck plows, bobcats, loaders or even graders can remove most of the hard packed snow but will struggle with pure solid ice. However, if we’re scraping hard enough on a concrete surface to remove ice and snow, what is to say that the equipment may not also damage the concrete itself? Concrete is cut so that it doesn’t crack but these cut blocks can shift up and the equipment can catch this shifted concrete and break, crack, or chip it. Especially after a repeated beating. In the least the equipment will dig up some grass if the operator misses the driveway and goes too far to either side. So invasive techniques can usually remove hard pack but at what cost? Is a new driveway really worth it to have bare pavement showing when the snow will melt on its own eventually?

The second method to removing ice and snow is with ice melt. Salt doesn’t work well below -10C but there are many great chemicals that will melt right down to -30C or even lower. However, we know that salt is corrosive, imagine how corrosive a -30C ice melt is! The ice melt penetrates the concrete and literally flakes it off like dead skin. The salt melts the ice, but it also eats the driveway alive and leaves pits in the driveway. If ice melt is applied repeatedly over many years the concrete will keep deteriorating to the point of no recognition. It will also assuredly kill the lawn because it will be thrown onto the lawn directly by missing the pavement, or indirectly by removing the contaminated snow pack from the driveway into banks piled on the lawn. Is this worth having a bare pavement driveway? I think not.

If one can get over the appearances, the issue of safety is still present. Ice can be slippery and this is a very valid safety concern. We recommend you combat this by using sand or grit on the ice to provide traction to those walking over it. Yes, the grit can track into the house but the safety risk of slipping is greatly reduced. As with anything, trade offs exist.

Hero tries to respond to our clients as quickly as possible but we do not guarantee a bare pavement driveway. We use a urethane cutting edge on our equipment which is non-invasive. It’s so non invasive we could plow an entire front yard when it is frozen and not rip up any turf. This means some hard pack can remain but the fresh snow is always removed. Using the proper techniques we can scrape fairly well to remove hard pack that does exist but there are limitations to what can be done.

We feel that this trade off is much better to the homeowner on a $500 a year snow removal contract vs giving them a bare concrete driveway after every plowing and a $10,000+ new driveway bill after 5 years. Our clients agree with us 100% as well.