Winter in Boulder County is a beautiful time of year for bright sun and glittering snow. But there are some downsides to the season: frigid temperatures, expensive heating bills and most homeowners’ least favorite: ice.Winter in Boulder County is a beautiful time of year for bright sun and glittering snow. But there are some downsides to the season: frigid temperatures, expensive heating bills and most homeowners’ least favorite: ice.
Although snow and ice make the Colorado landscape glisten in the winter, you know how dangerous it can be for walking and driving.
Ice can also damage your roof and gutters if you’re not careful. And if you let ice build-up over the winter, it can also cause a mess when it starts to melt — think water leaking through your roof, ruining the wood and filling your insulation with mold.
The solution to keeping ice buildup at bay this season?
Plan to keep that ice under control all winter long — to protect the investment you’ve made in your home and to keep you and your family safe (not to mention avoiding an injury-based lawsuit from a neighbor).
There are a lot of tricks (and fables) for dealing with ice build-up (pickle juice and cheese brine, anyone?).
Read on to discover what you can do to tackle ice build-up head-on so your house — and wallet — stay safe all winter long.
Ice on Sidewalks and Driveway
Most ice comes from melting snow. That’s why it’s important to maintain snowfall on and around your house while it’s still fresh to prevent potential ice problems.
This is especially true on your sidewalks and driveway, where Frosty the Snowman can turn into a frozen puddle with a carrot sticking out of it overnight.
How to Prevent It
- When snow is in the forecast, be ready with either the right shovel (or a snow blower), and clear your driveway the same day as any snowfall.
- Use a deicer like rock salt, chloride-based deicer or salt-free variety.
- Each type of deicer hosts their own pros and cons, so choose an option that works best for the conditions at your home — some deicers have harmful chemicals that can stain wood or corrode metal.
- If you’re still stuck with ice the morning after a snowfall, try spreading an abrasive (like sand or kitty litter) across your sidewalks and driveways to provide friction and make it easier to walk and drive across the ice.
Pro Tip: Laying a waterproof tarp across your sidewalks and driveway before a storm can keep snow melt from settling on the ground.
Ice On Your Roof
The biggest winter danger to your roof is snow and ice. And if you’ve got a flat roof, you’ll want to keep an eye on how much weight accumulates on your roof over the course of the season.
If snow melts into your clogged gutters, you could end up with ice dams on your roof. Ice dams happen when snow on the highest part of your roof melts due to heat from the inside of your house.
When the melted snow runs to the edge of the roof but doesn’t drain off, it can re-freeze because the lower part of the roof isn’t as warm. This ice builds up over time, preventing snowmelt from draining.
The weight of ice dams can tear off your gutters. And when all that snow and ice starts to melt when springtime rolls around, it can seep into your roof, walls, and insulation — causing water damage, mildew and mold.
How to Prevent it
- Make sure your gutters are clean before the first winter storm. In the right conditions, ice dams can form even if your gutters are clear.
- Debris on your roof itself can contribute to ice damming, so be sure to add “clean off roof” to your pre-winter checklist.
- Clear snow from your roof as much as possible.
- In icy conditions when it’s too dangerous to get up on the roof with a shovel, use a snow rake.
- Hire a professional to clear the roof.
Ice In Your Gutters
Ice in your gutters can make for a serious problem for your house. Your gutters are designed to siphon water away from the roof and down to the ground so it can’t freeze while in your gutters.
But if your gutters aren’t cleaned before a storm hits, they can get jammed up with dead leaves and branches. And this debris is a perfect host for ice.
The weight of ice in your gutters could lead to gutter damage, or create a dangerous ice dam on your roof. That has the potential to seriously damage your roof — or cause a nasty mess when it all melts in the spring.
Ice in gutters can also turn into icicles, which can serve up a hazard for people walking below.
How to Prevent It
- Clean your gutters before the first snow fall, and keep them clean throughout the winter.
- Or hire a professional to help clean out your gutters and keep them safe from ice buildup all winter long.
Ice On the Porch and Deck
If your porch or deck is made of cement, you’ll want to be sure to clear off snowfall before it can turn to ice.
But if your porch or deck is made of wood, you’ve got a whole different problem when it comes to preventing ice buildup: the biggest winter threat to your deck could be you.
If you try removing snow and ice the wrong way, you could end up permanently damaging the surface of the wood.
How to Prevent it
- If your deck has been treated with a water sealant, you can simply leave the snow on your deck — it won’t be at risk of damage when the snow melts.
- If you want to clear your deck, use a broom to avoid damage to the wood.
- If the snow is heavier and you need to use a shovel, stick to either plastic or a shovel with a rubber edge — a metal edge shovel can tear up your deck.
- When you shovel, go with the direction of the grain to minimize damage. Ice on the deck can also be treated with a snow melt — though be careful about what kind you use. A colored melt could stain your deck.
And if you’ve got a natural wood deck, you can use a salt-based deicer, but you should rinse it off as soon as the snow and ice say goodbye. This will minimize your risk of damaging the wood of your deck, as well as to the hardware that holds your deck in place.
Ice On Your Lawn
There are a few ways ice can become a problem for your yard:
- Ice can weigh down tree branches, breaking off limbs that could end up breaking your limbs if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and
- Ice can damage your plants.
How to Prevent it
- Remove any dead or dying trees before the worst of winter strikes. A healthy tree can more likely handle the extra strain. A dead tree is already susceptible to falling apart — the extra weight of ice and snow won’t help.
- Keep the snow clear from your plants as it accumulates by using either your hands or a broom.
- Avoid walking across your lawn when it’s covered in snow to give it the opportunity to melt faster, which will reduce the chance for fungal problems in the roots when spring comes.
Don’t Have an Ice Meltdown — Get the Help You Deserve this Winter
If keeping your ice buildup at bay is a bit too much to handle during the holidays, let the pros at GSC help.
We can help clear your lawn of debris, and can take debris from your gutters and roof off your hands.
We can also clear your sidewalks and driveway from snow and ice as it happens. Our professional snow removal teams can handle the steepest driveways and epic proportions of snow.
We also utilize top-notch ice control applications to keep slickness to a minimum, all winter long.
Old Man Winter? Hit us with your best shot. GSC is ready for it all. Learn more about GSC’s professional snow removal services »