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How to Shovel, Melt, and Remove Frozen Snow

How to Shovel, Melt, and Remove Frozen Snow

How to Shovel, Melt, and Remove Frozen Snow

You were out of town and you’ve come home to discover that your driveway is covered with frozen snow. After attempting to use your snow shovel to remove it, you soon realize that frozen snow isn’t as easy to clear away as is freshly fallen snow.

How does snow become frozen? The process starts when normal snowfall remains on the ground until either you remove it or temperatures rise and it begins to melt. If temperatures drop back down below the freezing point, the remaining snow then freezes and becomes what is known as frozen snow.

So, how do you eliminate this icy white stuff? Leaving it in hopes of another warm day can pose a hazard to your safety. Here’s how to shovel, melt, and remove frozen snow for good. 

Shovel the Snow

The first thing you should try is simply to shovel it, especially if you only have a small amount to deal with. Here’s an easy household hack to keep snow and ice from sticking to the shovel and slowing you down: Spray the shovel blade with some cooking oil. Even if you have a large amount of frozen snow to deal with, this trick will make shoveling the white stuff much easier.

However, if you’re still finding the job slow-going, here’s another easy hack to try in addition to the cooking-oil spray: Wear socks over your shoes. It may sound and look silly, but this trick will give you better traction on the icy surface.

If you’re not having any success with your shovel, there is probably too much frozen snow to remove in this way. But don’t fret, just move on to the next tips. 

Melt It 

The next thing to try is melting the frozen snow. While it helps to have ice melter, a professional grade mixture that you can purchase at the hardware store, you can make do with items you likely already have in your home.

First, try spraying the snow with hot water. This usually does the trick, but don’t forget to apply a salt and sand mixture to all remaining puddles to make sure they don’t freeze once temperatures drop again.

If you don’t have a hose for hot water, another at-home solution is to pour a mixture of vinegar and water over the snow. This combination is a natural de-icer, and it works really well on frozen snow. If you’re all out of vinegar and hot water but you’ve got a well-stocked liquor cabinet, a little bit of vodka sprayed over the ice will also do the trick since vodka has a lower freezing point. 

Take a Proactive Approach 

The best way to prevent frozen snow is to be proactive about it. When flurries begin, lightly shovel sidewalk and driveway surfaces every hour or two. If you’re unable to keep to this schedule, then, before they start, cover exposed ground surfaces with plastic tarps. Once the snow stops falling, all you have to do is remove the tarps and you’ve got crystal clear pathways.

Frozen snow is inconvenient and can even be dangerous. The tips above will help you shovel, melt, and remove frozen snow with ease. 

How to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes in a Wall

How to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes in a Wall

How to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes in a Wall

“I can’t make it today, sorry.” 

Such were the unfortunate words from my buddy. Our plan for a night of games and beers had been hijacked by frozen pipes at one of his rental properties. Being a landlord comes with a never-ending list of responsibilities, but my friend had yet to deal with this particular predicament. As fun as our night would have been, the thought of burst pipes spilling slush all over the basement made his decision easy.

Check Pipes When Weather Turns Cold

The occurrence wasn’t surprising since winter is especially brutal in Minnesota. Going outside for more than 30 seconds results in full numbing of the face and any other exposed skin. Taking out the dog involves more time layering than actual walking. Dogs simply do their business and flash an I’m-not-spending-any-more-time-out-here-than-necessary look and turn back to their houses. 

Caught Early, Frozen Pipes Can Be an Easy Fix

I’ve never had to thaw pipes personally, so I was curious to hear exactly how my friend handled the situation. Turns out all he needed was a hair dryer. In his case, the pipe in question was in the basement and easy to access. He just ran the hair dryer along the pipe until things began to move out through the faucet. 

How to Approach More Complex Situations

My buddy had a relatively easy fix for his situation but what if your frozen pipe is inside a wall? Before you panic and take a sledge to your living room, try these four steps:

  • Locate the frozen section of pipe
  • Open the faucet associated with the frozen pipe
  • Target a heat source where ice has dammed the water flow
  • Keep water moving until temperatures rise

Pinpoint the Frozen Area

First, identify where the pipe is frozen as accurately as possible. If it’s behind a wall, you’ll want to narrow down, as much as possible, exactly where in the wall it is before you cut into it. The wall will most likely be cold to the touch. If you press a small child to the wall and they scream, you’ve probably located it. If the wall is wet, it’s probably too late. If the child is wet, well that’s a different blog.

Create A Flow

Turn on the faucet associated with the pipe so the thawing water has an escape route. Once water starts thawing, the pipes are at greater risk for rupture. 

Turn Up the Heat

The simplest thing you can try is turning up the thermostat. Who doesn’t love a sauna in January? Certainly, the small child you froze a minute ago will appreciate it. Increasing the temperature in your home may be enough to get things moving. Make sure air flow around the frozen section is maximized. Open doors and cabinets to allow warm air to circulate as efficiently as possible. You can try a space heater in the area, just be sure not to leave it unattended or your sauna could become a bon fire.

Focus Your Thawing Efforts

If raising the room temperature fails to get things moving, you’ll need a more focused approach. An infrared light aimed at the wall can target the frozen area. Heat lamps can be effective as well but run greater risk of damaging the walls. Don’t leave heat lamps unattended either, because, like the space heaters, they carry bon-fire risk. You’ll want to aim your heat source toward the faucet end of things so the melt can escape.

Last Resort, Structural Surgery

If none of these tactics gets your copper river flowing, you may need to cut into the drywall to reach the pipe. In the long run, it’s a better option than having water explode inside the wall and having to replace the wall, the carpet, the furniture and your angry spouse. Cut into the drywall with a utility knife and remove a small panel.

Once you have direct access to the pipe, use any of the above methods, including the hair dryer, to warm the pipe and move the ice flow toward the faucet. A trick, when possible, is to use a cookie sheet on the backside of the pipe to reflect the heat and protect the surface behind it.

Keep the Water Running

If you’ve unlocked the frozen section of pipe, leave a trickle of water running. Moving water is less likely to freeze. When your dog tells you he’s ready to walk around the block again, it’s probably safe to turn off the faucet – the pipe’s not going to freeze again. 

Stay Vigilant

Dealing with frozen pipes can be an unexpected hassle. Catching the problem sooner rather than later is key. It may be a bummer to give up your game night but it’s a lot better than having your house turn into a water park.