New snow removal tools and tricks

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Whether its manual labor or with a machine of some sort, snow removal is a winter necessity for many of us. The “why” is pretty obvious: Life and work must go on. The “how” tends to get highly personal. It’s the age-old problem with a severe-weather twist: how to clear the walkway, the cars, and the driveway of snow. Everyone seems to have one swear-by method to rely on.

The good news is some advances in technology have produced a few new ways to remove snow.

Extendable Tools

   

It may seem obvious, but make sure to clear the car roof and hoods of snow before shoveling. You don’t want to dump the accumulation from the car onto a cleared driveway.

Reaching the roof of an SUV or minivan can be almost impossible with the typical scrapers. No-one wants to mar the paint job with a shovel, so we are left with soggy arms from pushing off the snow ourselves. Enter the extendable hand plow. Telescoping handles, rubber plow blades and removable scrapers make these tools super convenient. No more wide sweeping of your arms across the engine hood. A plow blade, rounded at the edges, extends from a grip handle and allows a person to easily push the snow clear off the other side of the car.

If car roofs aren’t a concern but hanging house eaves are, a unique forked-shaped scraper tool called a snow rake may help. Equipped with a nylon sheath (to allow for smooth falling of the chunks of snow) and an extendable arm, a snow rake can help pull down those big beds of snow that hover over your doorstep.

Heated Driveways

Underground

Heated driveways are a homeowner’s dream. An electrical or hot-water system is installed beneath the pavers. The system can be activated by a switch. The relatively small amount of heat that radiates from the system is enough to keep the driveway (and walkways, if preferred) free of ice and snow. The time to look into installation of an underground heating system is when a new driveway project is in the planning stages. The cost of the project will rise, but the convenience of a heated driveway cannot be understated.

Above ground

Instead of installing something under an existing driveway, a mat can be placed on top of the surface. A heated driveway mat is a portable mesh electric system that lays on the driveway. It’s heat-emitting wires prevent snow pile-up. The mat can be removed and stored after the storm passes. This solution also can be used to prevent ice from forming on the surface. It can also be used for walkways, and cuts down on salt use. Driveway mats cost vary, but expect the price to hover around $1000, depending on the size of the mat.

Snow Removal App, SnoHub

Called the Uber for snow removal, SnoHub is a mobile phone application that matches up homeowners and hard snow-busting workers. Only available in some states at the moment, SnoHub is poised to be a big on-demand service for the snowy states and Canada. The app doesn’t require any particular methods or tools to be used, and price is based on driveway size and snow amount.

Pave the way

Many other new twists on the old standards like shovels and push-plows come on the market yearly. Some may be worth a try. Before you shop, check for reviews and demonstrations on sharing sites like YouTube. Whatever your methods, make sure to clear all public walks and never dump snow into the streets. Make sure to give another pass-through to the street corners after the plows come. The plow may have blocked access to the sidewalk. Some municipalities will weigh fines against homeowners who neglect their sidewalks. Safety is the priority, always.