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Advice for how to clear snow from driveways and outdoor pathways, including choosing the right snow shovel, spreading salt, and helpful and safety tips.
In cold climates, shoveling snow is an important yet potentially dangerous job. Hospitals are often inundated with patients suffering from everything from pulled muscles to heart attacks following a snowstorm. Here’s how to shovel snow safely and efficiently.
Shoveling snow can be challenging. Make sure you are physically up to the task.
1Make sure you are up to the task. If you are out of shape or have heart or back problems or other physical or health limitations, get approval from your doctor before tackling this job yourself. If you’d like to pass on the task, hire a local student to do it for you, or borrow a snow blower from a neighbor.
2Get yourself a good snow shovel. An ideal shovel is lightweight, with a non-stick surface, long handle and wide, open ends that allow snow to be quickly tossed to the side as you work.
3Make a plan, and decide where you are going to deposit the snow as you shovel. Make sure you’re not putting it in a place where you’ll have to move it again.
4Begin shoveling, using a deliberate, steady motion. Focus on clearing snow from areas of regular foot traffic. This includes walkways and steps between your house and the street, driveway, car, mailbox, garbage cans, etc. Shovel snow from the driveway, making sure there’s plenty of space for clear passage for your car to drive in and out. Often the best way to clear a driveway is by “pushing” the snow. This is done by holding the shovel at a slight angle, and pushing forward in passes back and forth across the width of your driveway, piling up the snow at its edges.
5After you’ve cleared as much loose snow as you can, chip away patches of ice with the edges of the shovel. You may need a hammer or pick-axe if it’s especially thick or difficult to remove.
6Spread a good amount of rock salt or halite across the area you’ve just cleared. This will prevent new ice from building up too quickly. However, use salt with caution around your lawn or landscaping, as it can be damaging to plants. You will only want to use salt if the temperature is warm enough to allow the ice to melt. If any slippery patches remain, spread a little sand around, but use sand with caution as well; It’s helpful temporarily, but can create a mess as the ice melts and re-freezes. It’s also very difficult to remove once it’s re-frozen.
How to Clean Gutters and Downspouts
What You'll Need
Extension ladderWork glovesNarrow garden trowel or hand spadeTrash bagsBucket and s-hookPlumber’s snakeGarden hoseSprayer attachment
Proper maintenance and cleaning of your home’s gutters and downspouts is about more than simply keeping the exterior of your home looking nice. It may prevent damage to your home’s interior due to flooding through the foundation and walls or leaks in the roof due to seepage of water.
Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned and checked for signs of necessary repairs at least twice a year. Typically, the best times to do this are late spring and late fall. If you suspect a problem or live in an extremely rainy climate, then perhaps, you should check them more frequently.
Follow these procedures for all of the gutters and downspouts on your home.
Step 1 - Gather Tools and Pick a Starting Spot
Bring your tools and equipment to a location near your starting place. The corners of the home are good starting locations since this is where the downspouts are typically located. It’s best to start near the downspout and work away from it to avoid pushing additional debris into it.
Set the extension ladder on a level place. If you are using a bucket attached to the ladder with the s-hook for collecting the debris, attach it now. Otherwise, secure a plastic trash bag to collect the debris. This set up minimizes clean up later. Put work gloves on to protect your hands from any sharp objects in the gutters and downspouts. The gloves will also help to keep your hands clean.
Step 2 - Remove Large Debris
Begin at the part of the gutter closest to the downspout. Use the garden trowel or hand spade to scoop out the debris. Place it into the bucket or trash bag. If any pieces resist being scooped up, remove them carefully by hand. If you are planning of disposing of the debris in your compost pile, have a separate trash receptacle for metal objects such as roofing nails.
Step 3 - Rinse the Gutter
Once you have removed all of the larger debris, get the garden hose. Rinse the gutter in the direction of the downspout using the spraying attachment on the hose. Spray the gutter until no signs of debris remain.
Step 4 - Clear Clogs
If the downspout is clogged, you will need to clear it. Three options are available to you. Simply try each one until you find one that works. It’s probably easiest to begin by using the spray attachment on the hose to direct water into the downspout from the bottom end. This may force any clogs loose. Additionally, you can use the spray attachment on the hose to direct water into the downspout from the upper end. This may also knock the clog loose. If that does not work, then you need to work a plumber’s snake into the downspout to loosen the debris and draw the debris out.
Step 4 - Find and Repair Damage
Inspect the gutters and downspouts now for any signs of damage. Look for holes, dents, or cracks.If you discover any signs of damage, repair them as soon as possible. Dispose of the debris by placing it in your compost pile or in the trash.
Step 5 - Install Guards
Many places sell accessories for your gutters and downspouts that can effectively lessen the time needed to complete the task of cleaning the gutters and downspouts. A variety of protectors are on the market that will deflect the leaves and other debris from the gutters. If you do decide to install one, be sure that you purchase a model that can easily be removed to allow for your biannual cleaning chore.