Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – After a Big Snow Fall

Blowing the driveway and cleaning the sidewalks are just the first things we need to be mindful of after a big snow. This week we had our biggest snow in the last 2 years around Chicago. When you are shoveling and blowing snow, always be aware of where the snow is going. Before you know it melting will happen. A large pile of frozen snow doesn’t cause too much of a hassle but when it starts melting it could cause flooding or other problems. Always blow snow away from the house. Don’t salt until you know the snow is finished to save on salt being wasted and blown onto the grass and landscaping. If you can, pull heavy drifts away from the side of your house. Make natural paths for flowing water by making gutters in the snow along a fence or sidewalk to divert water away from your property.  Make sure all the drains around the house are clear of snow or leaves. This is especially important if you have an alley by your garage. Do the neighbors a favor and keep the alley sewer open. Often we’ll get some melting during sunny days, then refreezing when temps go down at night. Getting the most draining during the day will help with dangerous ice forming at night.

If you have roof areas on your house and garage that are accessible from the ground, it’s a good idea to invest in a roof rake. It comes with a wide shovel-like piece and three or four attachable poles. You thrust the shovel end as high as possible on the roof and pull off as much snow as you can. Snow can be extremely heavy depending on water content. Very wet snow can weigh as much as twenty pounds per square foot. We had a garage roof collapse and it was nearly a catastrophe. We’ve reinforced the garage since, but we also bought a roof rake and use it every time there’s more than six inches of snow. Then we look to the house. As you look at your neighbors’ houses, you will see massive icicles hanging from the roofs. You might think, “Oh well, the worst thing that could happen is the gutter might get damaged.”. But it can get much worse. At the top of the icicles is a solid sheet of ice. As snow melts from the heat from the house and refreezes, the ice line creeps further up the roofline. Ice often forms underneath the roof shingles. This damages the roof and can even cause leaking in the house. Removing as much snow from the roof will help prevent this. Also, always knock down as many icicles as you can by running a broom along the gutter.

As with many things around the house, a little prevention is worth a pound of cure.