Avoiding Driveway Danger: What You Need to Know About Black Ice
Black ice is a well known wintertime danger, particularly as regards driving on highways, but it also can create a hazard right on your own driveway and walking paths. Ironically, shoveling off your pavements can end up back-firing and causing a thin layer of invisible ("black") ice to form and risk a slip-and-fall accident. Some ways to prevent this situation and to correct it should it occur are given below.
1. Use De-Icers and Traction Agents
Since the sun and/or changing temperatures can melt residual snow on your cleared pavements, there is a danger of refreezing to be considered. Clear paths from the center out so you don't need to walk on snow and ice while removing it, and don't pile snow high by the edges where melt-off can easily re-enter the pavement. While rock salt can be very damaging to your pavement and the environment, there is no denying that it’s effective against refreezing. However, seek an alternative like calcium chloride if possible. If you don't have enough salt, you can also use sand or ashes, which will not melt snow as effectively but at least provide improved traction.
2. Clear Pavements in the Morning
Newfallen snow is simply easier to remove than that hard-pressed by foot traffic, and the best way to catch the snow before it has been walked upon is in the morning. Another reason to remove snow early is that it gives the mid-day sun a chance to work on the pavement's surface. That, combined with de-icing efforts, can be quite effective at black ice prevention. The alternative is that snow will almost certainly re-freeze during the cold nighttime hours and greet you as black ice the next morning. However, if you’re going to shovel snow in the morning, be sure to pay caution to potential heart risks that can arise.
3. Physically Remove the Ice
A shovel and pick, so long as you are careful not to hit hard and damage the pavement, can loosen relatively thick black ice so you can toss it, piece by piece, into the yard. If the ice is too thin for this treatment, chances are high that sunlight will melt it away before long anyway. Otherwise, applying de-icer and awaiting the results is all you can do. If your driveway is shady at points, the wait can be that much longer.
4. Taking Preventative Measures
While laying down salt after the fact is beneficial, the need for such treatment can be reduced, and sometimes eliminated, by pouring down saline solutions before the snow ever reaches the ground. The water evaporates and leaves behind salt crystals that get deeply ingrained into the pavement's porous surface. This makes much wintertime precipitation melt on contact and delays what doesn't immediately melt from sticking to the pavement.
5. Use "High-Tech" Solutions
To make sure no black ice forms on your driveway or quickly melts when it does, you can install an underground heating system. These use radiant heat, produced by either electric cables or a heated water-antifreeze solution, to keep your whole driveway or at least the tire lanes snow-free and dry. For walking paths, you can lay down snow-melting mats, which are formed from two layers of slip-resistant rubber and a central heating element. These mats work fast, melting two inches (5 cm) of snow per hour in many cases, and they prevent melt-off from refreezing as black ice on your pavement.
Homeowners face many dangers every winter, including black ice forming on their driveways and walkways. Using the above preventative, corrective, and high-tech black ice management solutions will minimize the risk of having your pavements frozen under an invisible layer of ice. Better grip for auto tires and winter weather shoes will results, and you will have the peace of mind of knowing your pavements are as safe as possible.