Are you the homeowner who is outside with shovel and snow blower at the first sign of a snowflake, or are you the one that waits until everything melts?  Most people fall somewhere in between, but be aware that not handling snow and ice removal correctly can result in more than just a few sore muscles.  Sometimes, mishandling snow removal can be dangerous.

Ice dams form on roof edges after a snow storm when there is a difference in temperature between the eaves and the roof.  These are a danger to your home because they can lead to roof leaks, mildew, mold, and rot.  They can be melted by using calcium chloride (melting salt).  Try filling tights or pantyhose with calcium chloride and line the roof.  This will melt the ice and the water will drain through proper channels.  If that doesn’t work, consult an ice dam removal professional.

To prevent ice dams from forming, keep an eye on your attic’s insulation and ventilation before winter weather hits.  Talk to a professional about ice and water shields, soffit and ridge vents, weather stripping, and possibly adding more insulation.

Making sure your gutters are clear and free of debris will help any melting snow and ice drain properly.  A clogged gutter system that eventually fills with water or snow could freeze in dipping winter temperatures and cause the gutter and downspout material to break and tear when that frozen water expands.  Regularly clearing your gutters, even in the winter, can keep them from being damaged in this way.

Maintaining your snow removal equipment before you need it will make facing the next snow storm less difficult.  At the very least, clean out its auger and impeller.  If snow is left in these parts, it can freeze solid and prevent the machine from operating properly the next time you start it up or even damage it’s internal parts.  Follow the owner’s manual for proper maintenance to ensure the snow blower will work properly for years to come.

It’s been a few winters since we’ve had enough snow to worry about removing it from rooftops, but do you know when to do it and how?  When roof weight reaches 60 pounds per foot or more, it’s time to remove it.  Sixty pounds of snow is equivalent to 12 inches of fluffy snow or 6 inches of compacted snow.  When a snowfall of a foot or more is predicted, make a plan for removing some of the accumulation on your roof with a roof rake.

The final tip for safe snow and ice removal is for pet owners to make sure the ice melt formula they use is pet safe.  Some products can be dangerous to pets if ingested, so read labels carefully if you have a pet.  And remember, the pet does not have to go outdoors to be exposed to ice melt.  The product can come in with your shoes or boots.

Following these tips won’t prevent sore muscles, but they may prevent damage to your home or harm to your pets. Exercise caution whenever removing snow or ice from your property and read equipment manuals carefully to ensure a safe winter for you and your property.