30 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Ice and Snow
Let winter do its worst—you'll be totally fine.
If the onset of winter fills you with dread, you're not alone. According to a YouGov poll, winter is practically everyone's least favorite season, and with good reason: ice and snow removal is no picnic, even for the most intrepid winter warrior.
Considering that the National Centers for Environmental Information list freezing conditions and winter storms as the fourth and fifth-costliest weather conditions in the United States, causing an average of $3 and $2.2 billion per event, respectively, there's no time like the present to start taking action against winter's most destructive weather before it's too late.
Protecting yourself and your property is easier than you might have imagined. We've rounded up 30 easy ways to get rid of ice and snow, allowing you to show Mother Nature who's boss once and for all.
Keep your de-icer indoors.
Storing your ice and snow prevention tools appropriately is the first step toward keeping the inclement weather from affecting your day-to-day life. Namely, if you're storing your de-icing spray in an unheated mudroom, shed, or anywhere else it's exposed to those frigid temperatures, it won't be at the ready when you need it.
Melt windshield ice from the inside of your car.
Instead of immediately trying to scrape ice from your windshield when it accumulates, let your car do some of the hard work for you. Tennant suggests turning your car on and dialing your heat to the highest setting, turning on the front and back defrosters, and cranking up the fan speed so that the exterior ice melts off fast.
Keep your car windows covered at night.
If you want to keep ice and snow from taking hold on your car's windows or windshield, a good offense is the best defense. The solution? Covering those windows up before you head inside at night.
"Place a folded sheet, towel, or piece of cardboard over your windshield and windows to prevent ice from forming. Make sure these are secure so dew doesn't form in loose spots," suggests Tennant.
Finish removing ice with a squeegee.
Instead of using that ice scraper until your hands are aching, finish off the ice on your car with a squeegee instead. Not only will this reduce the likelihood that you'll accidentally scratch your windshield or windows once you're through the layer of ice you're attempting to attack, it means you can often clear that last patch of sufficiently-loosened ice easily. All it takes is a few strokes of your squeegee and that sheet of ice will be done for.
Don't rely on water to get the job done.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to try to melt ice with water, doing so may end up damaging your car or home in the long run. According to Tennant, removing ice with warm or hot water can actually increase the likelihood that the windows or windshield of your car will crack—and the same goes for the windows on your house. Unfortunately, "Even cold water is a bad idea," says Tennant, noting that, in cold enough temperatures, it can freeze upon making contact with the glass, thus compounding the problem.
Use a snow cutter.
Instead of hiring an expensive company to remove those icicles from your eaves for you, do it yourself with this handy little tool. "Use a snow cutter, which you can get for as little as $13 on Amazon, to brush snow off your roof to eliminate icicles and ice dams — both can tear seams in your roof and cause leaks," suggests Sean Harper, CEO of digital home insurance provider Kin.
Don't overuse your de-icing spray.
While de-icing spray can be a lifesaver when you're trying to melt ice and snow quickly, overusing it may make the problem worse. De-icing spray can make surfaces slick enough to make scraping the ice off them difficult; in the case of some homemade products, the spray may even freeze, making the issue worse.
Keep your sink cabinets open.
Ice isn't just a problem outside of your house. It presents a real danger to your plumbing, too. While adding some insulation to pipes that enter your house from the outside is a good solution, if you have time for it, if you need something that will work ASAP, try opening your under-sink cabinets instead.
"Open sink cabinets on extra cold days to keep your pipes from freezing and bursting. If you don't have the time or resources to properly insulate your pipes, keeping your cabinets open helps warm air circulate under your sink," recommends Harper.
Stock up on pet-friendly salt and shovels.
Humans aren't the only ones who could use a little protection from the wintery wrath of Mother Nature. Stocking up on pet-friendly salt can make a huge difference for your four-legged friends too.
"Salt is great for melting ice and snow, which can become a liability for visitors who could slip and fall on your driveway (leading to costly medical bills)," Harper. However, he cautions, "Make sure whatever snow melting agent you use is safe for pets, whether they're yours or a neighbor's who happens to be walking their dog on your sidewalk, so you aren't responsible for anyone's furry friend getting injured, either."
Treat your car's window seals with anti-freeze.
Keeping ice from becoming a hazard inside your car is easy: just use some antifreeze on the rubber seals around your doors and windows and you won't have to worry about finding them stuck.
"Use an anti-freeze product to prevent any moisture from freezing on the surface of your car," suggest Tennant. "These products can typically be found in most car maintenance supply shops."
Turn your shop vac into a snow blower.
No snow blower? No problem! Getting rid of light snow quickly and effectively is easy if you own a shop vacuum. Not only are these wet/dry vacs capable of sucking up light snow, which you can later dump out, you can also turn on their exhaust function and make them into a snow blower to quickly clear your steps, driveway, or front walk.
Spray de-icer before the temperature dips below freezing.
Instead of waiting for the temperature to drop below freezing to use your de-icing spray, do so when a cold front is about to hit. Preemptively spraying your de-icer can help ice from attaching to your car in the first place, meaning there will be less work for you when you're trying to head out the door in the morning.
Keep your car in the garage.
While it may seem obvious, keeping your car in your garage instead of parked in your driveway can keep you from a whole host of hassles when the temperature drops. "By leaving your car in a garage, the temperature will be high enough to prevent frost from forming," says Tennant.
Shovel frequently to prevent accumulation.
Though it's tempting to tackle your shoveling in a single pass, doing multiple sweeps throughout a snowy day will yield better results in the long run. By shoveling a few inches every few hours, you'll prevent intense accumulation, making your job easier on the whole.
Add weather stripping to your windows.
Keeping your home warm and free of snow and ice this winter is easy: just add weather stripping to any area where cold air could be leaking in, like windows and doors.
"Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows. Look for a high-quality brand that stays sealed. Check and replace as needed for all current weather stripping around windows and door frames to prevent heat loss. Time, wear and tear does call for new weather stripping every few years," says Tennant.
Retract awnings or umbrellas when it gets icy.
While those awnings or patio umbrellas might be a lifesaver on those hot summer days, both in terms of keeping you cool and lowering your risk of a sunburn, when the winter rolls around, they can be a source of serious danger.
On cold, snowy days, extra shade can mean extra ice, and worse yet, the shadow cast by your awnings or umbrella can make those slick spots harder to see. If there's snow in the forecast, make sure those umbrellas are away (as they should be by winter, anyway), and keep those awnings retracted against your house.
Replace your screen doors with storm doors.
Before the first snow falls, it's time to swap out those screen doors for sturdier storm doors to keep ice from taking hold in your home.
"Store the screens until the weather warms up. Do the same with screen windows. This is also a great time to clean them," says Tennant. In addition to keeping the temperatures in your home sufficiently warm, it can also limit the amount of actual snow that makes its way into your home on colder days.
Use a leaf blower if your snow blower isn't working.
If your snow blower isn't doing its job (or if you don't have one) and there's no shop vac to take over in its place, use a leaf blower to clear snow without the need for a shovel. While this method may not do much for heavy, wet snow, it will keep powder from piling up on your steps or driveway, both common sites of falls and other accidents.
Install window insulation.
While insulation typically gets blown into walls and under ceilings, you can keep your windows safe from snow and ice by adding insulation to them, too. Better yet, doing so is as easy as it is inexpensive with a DIY kit.
"[These] usually include plastic shrink film that is applied to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape, and then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and adhere to the glass. This is especially important in basements that are underground," says Tennant.
Invest in a roof rake.
Those heavy deposits of snow on your roof could be shortening its lifespan in the long run. "Make sure to get a snow roof rake, which is important to get snow off your roof after the storm," says John Bodrozic, co-founder of digital home management company HomeZada. "Wet snow can get very heavy, so you want to be able to get the snow off the roof without risking injury by climbing on the roof. And if the snow melts while on the roof, this can be a big source of leaks into the attic."
Make sure your snow blower is in working order.
While there are plenty of alternatives you can use in a pinch, like your vacuum or leaf blower, ensuring your snow blower is in working order will be easier in the long run, so test it out as the temperatures start to dip in late fall.
"Make sure your snow blower is ready for operation. After a big snow storm, the last thing you need is a snow blower that doesn't start, thus you can't even get your car out of the garage," says Bodrozic. "Make sure it is filled up with gas and oiled, and you tested it recently that it starts correctly." And for more must-have household gadgets, check out these 25 Tools Every Man Should Own.
Sprinkle salt before it snows.
Instead of waiting for the first flakes to hit the ground, do a preemptive sprinkling of salt on ice-prone patches of property, like your steps and front walk, to keep them from becoming safety hazards.
"Make sure to get some bags of salt, as sprinkling salt on your driveways and walkways helps eliminate that slippery layer of ice that builds up, which eliminates dangerous falls," says Bodrozic.
Clear your gutters before a storm hits.
Your gutters can become a surprising source of peril for you and damage for your home when the first snow hits. The good news? Cleaning them out before the winter's first storm can protect you and your property in the long run by reducing the risk of ice dams, ice ridges that collect along the edges of a roof, potentially leaking under shingles and into the home when they melt.
"Prevent ice dams from building up in your gutters by cleaning them out before the storms. Clogged gutters trap snow and water in the gutters, which then turns into huge ice dams that then create structural damage and leaks with your gutters and roof," says Bodrozic.
Shake off heavy tree branches near your house.
While trimming trees around your property in the fall can help reduce the risk of damage to your home, car, and person, if all else fails, shake those snow-covered branches with a broom to keep them from getting too laden with snow.
"Make sure to shake off heavy snow from tree branches that are near the home. You should either prune these tree branches before the storms come, or at least shake off heavy snow, as this can cause these branches to break and cause damage to your home," says Bodrozic.
Spray your shovel to keep snow from sticking.
There are few things more frustrating than finding your snow shovel caked in snow mere minutes into shoveling your sidewalk. Fortunately, there's an easy solution. By spraying cooking spray on your shovel, snow won't stick to it, making it easier to keep those paths around your home clear.
Keep your attic cool.
If you're eager to keep ice from accumulating on your roof, it pays to keep your attic cool. While it may seem counterintuitive, maintaining a cool attic means that the snow atop your roof won't melt when the sun hits it in the day time and then turn into ice when the temperature drops again at night.
Run a dehumidifier.
Keeping ice from building up in colder parts of your home, like under cabinets or in basements, is easy with one simple tool: a dehumidifier. By removing some of the condensation from the air in your home, the risk of frost or ice developing in your interior spaces is slashed significantly.
Spritz your windows with rubbing alcohol to de-ice them.
If you find that the windows to your home are getting covered in ice crystals when the weather gets cold, there's a simple way to fight back. Simply spray your windows with rubbing alcohol and wipe them down to get rid of any interior ice in a hurry.
Check the ventilation in your laundry room.
While improperly-vented laundry can be a fire hazard, it can also increase your risk of interior ice, especially if your machines are in your basement. Improperly-venting dryers, for instance, can contribute to interior condensation, potentially leading to the formation of ice on basement windows or uninsulated pipes. To mitigate this risk, have your washer and dryer serviced once a year, and check for telltale signs of improper venting, like condensation on windows, mildew, or drips.
Use cat litter to provide traction on icy surfaces.
A bag of your feline friend's favorite cat litter can be a lifesaver when ice and snow rear their ugly heads during the winter. While cat litter won't melt ice, it will provide enough traction for you to walk safely on a slippery driveway, or help get your car out if it can't get traction on a patch of ice. And once you're no longer stuck on the ice, you can get to work melting it by traditional means like salt.
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