Posted Jan 21st 2019
Snow Removal for Concrete
For homeowners, winter brings a frustrating task: removing snow from your driveway or sidewalk. Leaving snowfall to become an icy, slick surface on the concrete outside your home is a recipe for accidents, which means effective snow removal is a top priority. A common method you might have used before is a salt application to melt the snow and ice away. But the use of salt over time will cause major damage to your concrete, creating cracks, pits, and potholes in the surface. If you're looking for some alternatives to save your driveway some wear and tear, here are some tips on snow removal for concrete, brought to you by our concrete repair experts.
The safest and often most effective way to remove ice and snow from your concrete is the old-fashioned method of some manpower and a shovel. Leaving snow to build up on your concrete means that it will soon be stomped on by either you or your visitors, compacting it into a dangerous sheet of ice. Shoveling regularly as soon as there's a break in snowfall will prevent an overwhelming amount of snow and ice accumulation. This will also prevent concrete cracking due to letting snow freeze on the surface of your concrete and eventually thaw and expand.
Though shoveling is the preferred method to deal with snow removal, there are times when it just isn't enough to completely clear your driveway or sidewalk from ice and snow. Salt should still be avoided, but there are plenty of other replacements to look into. Calcium chloride is a popular choice that many experts agree is the best deicer for concrete. This compound works faster than most options, generating heat as it absorbs moisture to dissolve the ice and turning it into water, maintaining this heat to prevent refreezing. Calcium chloride also tends to be less corrosive to your concrete (an important factor whether your concrete is new or older) and more environmentally friendly. The downsides are that it can cause irritation to skin if handled directly, and it can be more expensive than other melters.
Potassium chloride is another top ice melt for concrete surfaces. Many homeowners choose it because it's a safer compound to be around animals, children, and plants, or because they're looking for a deicer with higher corrosivity. It's well suited to take on tougher concrete with rebar or wire mesh. Potassium chloride is a much slower ice melter, though, and isn't as effective when you need to clear a large volume of ice or snow.
Similarly to potassium chloride, magnesium chloride is safe to use in areas with plant life and animals, but it has the added benefit of being non-corrosive. It's also almost as effective as calcium chloride (though it can be more expensive), melting ice quickly and continuously even in a minimum temperature of -13 degrees Fahrenheit.
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
Homeowners with children and/or pets will find a fitting deicer in calcium magnesium acetate (or CMA). It is a non-corrosive compound (perfect for use on new concrete), helps prevent refreezing, and isn't dangerous for use around plant and animal life. CMA inhibits snow or ice particles from sticking to each other and to concrete surfaces instead of forming a brine, so it makes sense that its best use is stopping snow and ice from freezing again.
Purchasing a snow blower to get rid of new snow on your driveway is an attractive choice for those who don't want to use a chemical compound and are looking for a faster alternative to shoveling. The pros and cons should be weighed by your personal preference. It's an option that requires more storage and a higher cost for purchase, maintenance, and fuel replenishment, and blowers can present potential injury concern as any machinery does. You'll also still have days where you have to break out the shovel or compounds anyways to get rid of stubborn ice patches. But, on the other hand, snow blowers make clearing new snow a faster and less strenuous job for homeowners who are sick of taking a lot of time to deal with frequent snowfalls.
Heated driveways and stair mats are a new and popular way to remove snow as it falls on your concrete. The benefits are obvious: the system only needs to be installed once, and installation means that you won't need to spend time and effort to shovel away snow for the rest of the winter season. For older or busy homeowners this is a dream solution. However, it's also incredibly expensive. Demolishing your driveway and installing a brand new heating system can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $15,000 depending on the size of your driveway and the system you choose, and all of this work and money will be for a feature that you can only use in the winter. Like snow blowers, heated driveways require you to look closely at whether or not you can justify the cost for your situation.
When it comes to clearing snow from your driveway or sidewalk, there are a lot of options. Which one you choose depends on your preference and the state of your concrete. Keep in mind, though, that chemical deicers still have the potential to slowly damage concrete with repeated heavy use. Research the advantages and disadvantages of any method you consider and be cautious with the one you choose to protect your concrete from unnecessary damage. Do you have any questions about concrete restoration? Contact Interwest's concrete restoration experts today, we're happy to help!