How to Clean and Protect the Sidewalk After a Snowfall
Once it snows, you may have an obligation as a homeowner to clean your sidewalk. It needs to be safe for mail carriers and visitors and for your own family. Shoveling snow is just part of the job; you need to get rid of ice and sleet and keep it safe through the cold weather.
If the snowfall is very deep, you don’t want to overexert yourself with shoveling. If you don’t have a snow blower, use your shovel to remove a bit off the top and then some more, as you work your way down. Don’t just start at the bottom of the snowdrift and start shoveling but remove only what’s manageable for you.
As you remove snow, be sure you put it someplace where it’s not going to just drift back onto your sidewalk. Try to toss it away from the sidewalk as much as possible. You may need to keep reducing snowdrifts as you work.
Once you’ve cleaned away the snow, you need to tackle the ice. Typically salt is the best way to do this; have salt on hand before the snow arrives. Use a scoop rather than assuming you can just pick up a bag of salt and spread it around. A scoop will let you put the salt right where you need it so you can control the coverage and are sure to get dangerous areas of your sidewalk.
It’s good to wait an hour or so after salting to let it melt the ice and then go back out and check the sidewalk again. Add more salt where it’s needed, where ice hasn’t melted. You may also need to wait so it’s safe for you to walk on the ice without slipping.
When the snow melts and if you have a warmer day, it’s good to go out and sweep up any remaining salt in order to protect your lawn as excess salt will seep onto the grass and can damage its growth. If you can’t sweep up the remaining salt and snow, you can shovel it once it’s melted a bit and put the snow and salt in a trash can rather than on your lawn.
If the salt is not melting thick ice, there is a trick you can use to melt it enough to make it manageable. Put a pot or kettle of water on your stove and get it warm; it doesn’t need to be boiling, just hot to the touch. Take the pot of water outside and very slowly run it over the thick ice. This will melt off the top layer of ice so that you can add salt or shovel it. You need to add that salt soon or shovel it up as the water you add will get cold and form into ice itself, so don’t wait.