Common snow removal mistakes homeowners make — and how to avoid them

·5 min read

Winter is just around the corner, and with it, winter weather. From helpful winter driving tips to how to create a snow removal game plan for those inevitable winter storms, Canadian Tire is here to make sure you’re ready to Bring On Winter, and everything that comes with it.

Woman using snow shovel from Canadian Tire during large winter storm
Photo via Canadian Tire

Snow removal isn’t anyone’s idea of winter fun, but it’s a necessary part of living in the Great White North. 

We’ve all experienced the hardships of letting heavy snowfall pile up on our driveways and walkways. Not only is it harder to shovel when you’re swimming in 10 inches of snow, the repercussions of not planning ahead for messy winter weather can be a real pain—literally.

That said, with a little strategy and proper preparation — plus the right tools — you’ll be able to tackle winter weather this season without incident or accident. Here are six common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to winter snow removal, along with our tips for how to avoid them, so you can spend more time enjoying the winter weather this season and less time cleaning it up.

1. Forgetting to prep your lawn ahead of time

Frozen and snow covered lawn and grass during winter
Photo via Getty Images

You’d be surprised how many homeowners don’t think about winterizing their lawn until after the first snow hits. Plan ahead in late fall or early winter however, and it’ll make your life that much easier come spring.

Your first order of business? Cutting your grass to about an inch and a half and clearing out any debris, moss or weeds. The next step is to aerate your lawn using a tool like the Yardworks 4-Tine Cultivator. Then, before your lawn goes into its annual deep freeze, apply a winter-appropriate fertilizer like Scotts Turf Builder Fall Lawn Food, which is specially formulated for winter to give your lawn a jumpstart heading into spring.

2. Using incorrect equipment

Homeowner using Troy-Bilt snowblower from Canadian Tire to clear snow from the driveway
Photo via Canadian Tire

Once the snow starts falling, be ready by having the right tools on hand. Depending on the size of your driveway and how much snow you get, you’ll need to assess whether a shovel is sufficient or if you’ll require a snowblower to properly tackle it.

If a shovel is your tool of choice, opt for one that will make the job easier on your back. The Yardworks Sleigh Snow Shovel with Wear Strip is a great option for heavy snowfall. This sleigh-style shovel features a wide blade to remove large amounts of snow in a single push, while the ergonomic handle encourages proper posture.

If you plan on buying a new snowblower this season, make sure to do your research first to determine the best fit for your needs and space. The Troy-Bilt 243cc 2-Stage Gas Snowblower is a tried-and-true best-seller thanks to a winterized engine that runs cleaner (and quieter) than other gas snowblowers. It also features heated grips for added comfort during those extra-cold days. The Yardworks 15A Electric Snowblower is another good option for those with medium to large-sized driveways, plus it comes with dual LED headlights to help light the way in low visibility conditions.

3. Using improper form when shovelling

Man using snow shovel from Canadian Tire to clear snowy driveway
Photo via Canadian Tire

Much like exercising, you can seriously hurt yourself if you don’t use proper form when you shovel. The most important tip to keep in mind is to bend your knees as you shovel and lift with your legs rather than your back. Then hold the handle close to the blade and your body to reduce strain on your lower back. Opting for a lightweight shovel designed with ergonomics in mind, like this Yardworks Ergonomic Snow Shovel, is always a wise idea as well.

Most importantly, don’t overwork yourself and remember to take breaks to warm up. Your body will thank you for it.

4. Neglecting rooftops and gutters

Snow and ice in gutters and on roof during winter
Photo via Getty Images

Excessive heavy snow can be incredibly stressful on your roof. It’s also an easy area to forget about when removing snow from your property. The most common cause of damage? Ice dams which can cause leaks and further harm to your gutters and shingles. In severe cases, your roof can even collapse.

While it’s never advisable to climb onto your roof, especially when there’s ice and snow afoot, you can do a fair bit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. A roof rake like this Yardworks 16-ft Telescopic Roof Rake allows you to clear snow from your roof without putting yourself at risk of falling. For anything more involved though, call in a professional.

5. Not thinking strategically

Man using snow shovel from Canadian Tire to clear walkway
Photo via Canadian Tire

As you clear your driveway, you may be unintentionally creating a hazard for your neighbours or passersby, so always remember to be mindful of where you’re shovelling snow. Another no-no is shovelling your driveway from top to bottom, since the weight of that much snow can make it difficult to maneuver. To help minimize the amount of effort required, start at the centre and push smaller amounts of snow to either side of your driveway instead.

Finally, never let piles of snow accumulate and turn into ice. The longer you wait, the harder that dense packed snow will be to remove. Instead, make sure to shovel every few hours during heavy snowfall in order to make the job more manageable—not to mention less stressful on your back and equipment.

6. Overdoing it with ice melt

Alaskan Premium Ice Melter from Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

If you want to stay on top of snow removal, keep an eye on the weather and apply ice melt before any snow has hit the ground. This preventative measure is your secret weapon to keeping black ice at bay.

That said, when deciding to use ice melt or salt, keep your plants and pets in mind. Salt can be damaging to your trees and other landscaping and can even harm wildlife if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s advisable to consider green options when possible. We recommend Alaskan Premium Ice Melt Jug, a high visibility ice melt that’s gentle on grass and concrete. Another good option is Yardworks Envirosafe Ice Melter, a fast-acting de-icer that’s less harmful to vegetation and pets. Just always remember to follow package instructions, as over-application can also cause problems.

Winter isn’t always easy, but Canadians know how to make the best of it, and Canadian Tire is here to help. Whether you’re looking for tips on dealing with messy winter weather or fun outdoor activities to keep kids active, Canadian Tire has everything you need to Bring On Winter this year, so you can embrace all the fun and excitement the season has to offer.

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