Welcome back Jack Frost.
We go through this every year here in Utah. The days get shorter, and the cold temperatures settle in. With those cold temperatures comes snow and ice.
There’re a few things we have little control over, and then there are things we deal with. Today, I want to discuss some of those ways we can or should deal with winter weather in Utah to keep our senior communities beautiful and safe.
Ice melt is one of those touchy topics. By now, most of us over 55 years old, have heard that salt is bad for our concrete surfaces. It has a tendency to eat away at the top layer. Ice melt on the other hand, claims to be safe on concrete.
This is 99% false.
While it is definitely better to use than salt, ice melt has one big problem, it still melts the ice.
But wait, isn’t that the point?
Yes and no. The key point, is that the ice needs to be removed. If we are to preserve the concrete whereon it rests.
In Utah, you may have noticed that our winter days are often above freezing, while at night, the temperature drops below 32 degrees. This is called a “Freeze-Thaw Cycle.” A freeze-thaw cycle is anytime that water goes wet to frozen.
Most days in Utah, at least one freeze thaw cycle occurs. When you place an ice melting substance on the ice, it lowers the freezing temperature and increases the number of times the liquid freezes and thaws throughout the day or night.
Also, as we all know, ice expands when it freezes. You may not have known this part, but concrete also absorbs water. So imagine the forces acting on that top layer of your concrete if it keeps absorbing water that soon after, freezes.
You got it, the top layer of your concrete starts to pop off. Little bits at first, eventually crumbling the entire finished surface of your concrete. This is called spalding.
That is why it is always better to remove snow from your driveway, rather than letting it pack in place. No snow, no ice, no water, no spalding.
Luckily for you, if you live in one of our awesome 55+ communities, all this snow shoveling is taken care of for you.
So fine, don’t use ice melt, right? Well, there’s another problem that requires the use of ice melt…
That’s right. We can’t always get rid of all the ice and water that builds up around our homes. Snow melts and sheets across driving and walking paths, then freezes, creating hazardous conditions, especially for any of us who struggle with mobility.
So ice melt really should be used in these circumstances. The last thing we want, is for people to be slipping on these sheets of ice.
For this reason, in most of our communities, we have the HOA place a small carton of ice-melt between the garages. The snow removal services that we hire, usually do a pretty good job of clearing the snow after about 2” has accumulated, but after the snow has been shoveled, the melting snow from our roofs creates the next problem.
So by all means, if you find that ice is developing on your walking paths, and the ice melt put down by the snow removal company isn’t cutting it, feel free to sprinkle that ice melt on them. But don’t dump a whole container worth of ice melt on your sidewalk or driveway. When it comes to ice melt, a little really can go a long ways.
And if you happen to see someone blanketing their slabs with ice melt (and I’ll admit, the snow removal people are often guilty of this also), don’t be afraid to sweep some of it off, or to help educate whoever is trying to make a slab that competes with the Utah Salt Flats.
Spalded concrete is not covered by a builders warranty. Any maintenance required to fix spalding is generally covered by the HOA. So treat it good. You’re the one paying for it if it needs re-surfacing.
So try sprinkling a little. Give it some time and see how much you really need to clear the problem. Naturally we want to preserve the concrete, but your health is always more important than a chunk of sidewalk.