Snow and Ice Removal Tips for the Home and Driveway

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Ken Erickson

Subject: Wood Ash?

I have read that wood ash is a good snow melter. We are accumulating a fair amount, but it hasn't snowed here in coastal Washington, so I haven't been able to try it out. Any advice?

Joyce Wilcox

Subject: Wood ash

I have always saved my fireplace ashes for spring gardening. I mix a few scoopfuls into the dirt that I plant tomatoes in. Some people buy lime to help with the tomato acidity, but the largest part of lime is wood ash. Our tomatoes have so much acid if I don't do this. So if you don't grow them you could offer it to people who do. Hope this helps.

Katherine Ross

Subject: ice and snow on the roof

What is the best way to remove a buildup of ice on a roof? We have a heavy wet snow coming down now, accumulating on top of it, and I fear ice dams and the additional weight.

Kitty Chi

Subject: Snow and Ice Removal

I think this article would be really good for someone who has just moved north and has not lived with snow in the winter before. Since I am in Michigan, these "tips" are a way of life here. I would like to see specific recommended products for specific pavements, maybe a recommended shovel style/shape, auto ice/snow removal tools. Also, as someone has requested, maybe pet safety options. And as another has suggested, this would be timely if posted in late October or early November so you have a choice in the marketplace of snowblowers and/or other products that you want to purchase.

Jerry Pflug

Subject: snow removal

Questions: What type of ice melt is best for the safety of my dog? Is there such a thing as one shovel being better then others?


Subject: pet safe ice melt

I have 2 dogs and a cat that all enjoy being outside in the winter. You can purchase pet-friendly ice melt in an easy to distribute container (Lowe's Home Depot. Walmart...). Check the packaging because the containers pretty much look the same but certain ones have "Pet Safe" or some type wording. I have not had any trouble with my pets and this stuff.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.