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How To Choose the Best Snow Plow for Your Facility

How To Choose the Best Snow Plow for Your Facility

How To Choose the Best Snow Plow for Your Facility

Snow plowing is not exactly a task many people look forward to. But for commercial snow removal, it is a necessary undertaking for access, as well as to prevent water and snow ingress into buildings. When considering the most efficient use of snow plow for your facility’s snow removal needs, you’ll need to consider the project size, vehicle attachment mode, budget, ease of use, and the material. Though there are other factors to consider, the following should narrow down the list of available plows to a suitable few.


Project Size

The task size depends on the size of the plow to purchase, as well as the budget to allocate. For facility use, a larger and multi-position capability plow comes in handy due to the frequency of tasks and large grounds to cover. Regular snow plows measure between 6 and 10 feet (1.83 - 3.05 m) wide. The latter comes in handy for large snow plowing projects with minimal obstacles, such as open car packs and wide rural driveways.


Vehicle Attachment

The vehicle you attach the plow to determines the plow type to purchase. Vehicles, especially trucks, have standardized Front Gross Axle Weight Rating. For commercial applications, consider using nothing less than a three-quarter ton truck, as they have superior FGAWR to handle the large snow plows. Regular plows weigh between 100 - 1000 pounds (45 - 450 kg). It is crucial that the plow does not exceed this rating. The high pickup power also allows easy attachment of other equipment such as ice control, salt spreaders and others necessary for commercial projects..


Budget

The plows required for commercial snow removal cost $5,000 (approximately $6,685 CAD) and up, depending on size and attachments. Ensure that you consider the initial purchase cost, accessories, and any required upgrade before buying. The attachments may come in handy for some projects, especially for heavy snow areas, low visibility, and nightly plows. Other features to look into include high-output, secure mounting system, simplified control system and reliability.


Ease of Use

Scientific trends indicate that the heavy winters we have seen over the last few years are not going away anytime soon. This leads to heavy deposits of snow, sleet, ice, and grime. The suitability for the task depends on the attachment system and adjustments. For frequent tasks, consider easy to use adjustment systems such as brackets and hitch receivers, and the ability to switch between multiple trucks. This makes it easy to attend to differently sized projects.


The primary factor in creating the ease of use is the controlling system. It provides the main interface between the operator and the plow. Most manufacturers offer the simple and easy-to-use joystick model. The modern plow features a touch pad that allows for faster responses, and the ability for more plow positions, thus making it easy to attend to challenging landscapes and spaces.


Material

Snow presents a number of challenges to most materials. This includes corrosion, snow sticking, and wear. It is necessary to invest in material that is resistant to these. Here are some pros and cons for the primary materials used in snow plows: 


Material

         Pros

          Cons

Poly

  • Wear and corrosion resistant

  • Snow rarely sticks

  • More expensive

  • Weigh more once hooked up due to heavy framework

Mild Steel

  • Less costly than alternatives

  • Effective and convenient in matching older plows

  • Rusts after a lengthy duration of use

  • Prone to noisy rattling

Stainless Steel

  • Superior corrosion resistance and slickness

  • Relatively lightweight

  • Prone to dents and cracks, especially in areas with rocks, gravel, and stumps


Undoubtedly a snow plow will be one of the main tools of your commercial snow removal plan. It is therefore key to maximize the efficacy of this expensive piece of equipment. Understand the key factors that contribute to a long lasting, efficient snow plow, such as those listed above, so that you can save on costs and best attend to your facility’s snow removal.

From Falling Leaves to Football: Facility Maintenance in Autumn

From Falling Leaves to Football: Facility Maintenance in Autumn

From Falling Leaves to Football: Facility Maintenance in Autumn

Proper care for your facility's turf and fields during the fall is both important in itself and is a major key to having your grounds successfully survive the winter. To ensure your grounds will be healthy and attractive the following spring, you will need to minimize the harm that wintertime snow and ice may cause to your sod through an effective autumn maintenance program.

Processing Fallen Leaves

Although leaf removal can be a very labor-intensive undertaking, it will keep your grounds looking good and prevent grass from dying "by suffocation" under a blanket of leaves. Use rakes and a leaf blower to gather the fallen leaves and debris into a pile and then use mulching mowers and bagging mowers to remove it. The mulch yield can then be put into beds and around trees, and re-mulching during autumn is an ideal strategy for protecting sensitive plants roots/stems through the winter.

Aerating Your Turf

Fertilizing and de-weeding are indeed crucial to keeping your grounds hardy through the winter, but another critical autumn lawn care task is aeration. Foot traffic, mower and equipment traffic, and rainfall all serve to make soils denser and more compacted. This eliminates tiny air pockets underground, making it more difficult for roots to extend themselves. It can also lead to puddles, mud, and run-off erosion when turf doesn't drain properly.

New construction sites, heavily thatched lawns, sports fields, and playgrounds are among the most likely turf to become compressed. Using a spike aerator is one way to increase air, water, and nutrient penetration in the areas, but far more effective is the plug aerator, which removes small cores of dirt and relieves the pressure. Roots will grow deeper and stronger in well aerated soil, and an annual aeration every fall is good practice.

Caring for Football Fields

Football and other sports fields will be among the most compacted parts of your grounds. Parts of the field will also likely be thinned out or even bare at season's end. Applying plenty of fertilizer in late fall as well as re-seeding will help the field green up early the following spring. A full pound of nitrogen-based fertilizer every 1,000 square feet (1kg per 204.81 square meters) will bolster the turf's carbohydrate stores to toughen it up for the cold season, and grass roots will actually keep on growing, though at a slower pace, during the early parts of winter.

Fields, in particular, need to be aerated, and doing so in late fall allows the winter freeze/thaw cycle to create small cracks in the soil, which increase aeration even more. It is a good idea to "install" compost while aerating, especially if your soil tests out below 3% organic matter content. Five percent, however, is ideal if you have loam soil.

Autumn maintenance tasks at college grounds and other facilities must not only keep turf healthy for the fall but also bolster it to endure the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures of winter. Leaf removal, fertilization, aeration, and re-seeding are among the top autumn grounds-care practices that helps turf recover quickly when spring finally arrives.

The Importance of Facility Rooftop Snow Removal

The Importance of Facility Rooftop Snow Removal

The Importance of Facility Rooftop Snow Removal

In February 2015, 
record snowfalls in Boston caused 44 roofs to collapse across a two-day period. Throughout New England, in fact, ice dams, snow drifts, and snow weight threatened roofs as more than seven feet (2.13 m) of snow arrived in one month’s time.

While the winter of 2014-2015 was unusually severe, the dangers to the roofs of industrial and commercial facilities are very real every winter season. Facility managers must be aware of the problems that snow and ice can pose to their facility's roofs and to the safety of those in and near the building, and prepare a roof snow removal plan accordingly.

Preventing Structural Damage and Collapse

The first step in preventing major roof damage during the winter is to be aware of the load-bearing capacity of your roof and of the approximate snow-weight currently on it. Flat and low-pitch roofs, so often used at managed facilities, are particularly prone to snow accumulation. These roofs usually have strong support systems, but the snow level must still be monitored to keep things safe.

One cubic foot (0.02 cubic meter) of powdery snow weighs about six to eight pounds (approximately 3 - 4 kg). The same quantity of packed or wet snow may weigh 20 pounds (9 kg), and ice in that amount can weigh up to 60 pounds (27.2 kg). Multiply any of these figures by the square footage of your roof surface and by the depth of the snow on top, and you will get an idea of the great strain your roof is subjected to each winter--and the subsequent importance of roof snow removal.

In general, you should not allow more than 18 inches (45.72 cm) of snow on a low-pitch roof nor more than 20 pounds of pressure per square foot (97.64 kg per square meter). FEMA, however, also warns that the attempt to remove excess snow is itself dangerous to a roof and to the people clearing it. Walking on the roof and shifting snow can create load-imbalances, and it is even important in what order different parts of the roof are cleaned off.

Some signs that your roof is under too much pressure include:
  • Visible sagging
  • Cracks developing in the walls
  • Major roof leaks
  • Creaking or popping sounds
  • Doors that pop open
  • Doors that are hard to open
  • Windows that are hard to open
  • Sprinkler heads dropping below ceiling tiles 
Some tips for rooftop snow removal are:
  • Use a plastic shovel since metal can damage the roof and conduct electricity if it touches a wire
  • With pitched roofs, use a snow rake with a long extension-arm.
  • Begin at the edges and work to the peak.
  • Leave 2 or 3 inches (5 - 8 cm) of snow on top to ensure you don't damage the roof.

Other Dangers to Watch Out For

Besides outright collapse, there are other roof-related dangers that will need some attention:

  • Ice dams can form when snow melt-off from the warmer central roof area refreezes at the colder eaves and backs up water. Better below-roof insulation and ventilation are the main answers.
  • Large icicles can dangle from the eaves, threatening to break off and fall on anyone walking or standing below.
  • Roof vents can get bent by sliding snow or clogged up with ice or snow. The latter could lead to dangerous gases being trapped in the building.
  • Ice on the roof may damage wiring and cause a fire hazard. Protecting pipes and vents with plywood is sometimes effective.
  • Roof-based snow drifts might dust entryways, and melt-off might drip there and refreeze. An industrial-strength heated floor mat can keep all entrances clear and dry.

Winter brings many dangers to a facility's roofs and to those who walk or stand near them. Being aware of these potential problems and knowing viable solutions enables for safer rooftop snow removal, and for other dangers to be prevented or quickly eliminated.