3 FM quick reads on snow and ice management
1. Snow and Ice Removal: Pre-Treatment Strategies
This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is strategies for clearing snow and ice more effectively.
To make clearing snow and ice easier for grounds crews, managers more often pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products. These products help keep exterior surfaces clear and safe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. With a better understanding of the evolution of these products, managers can develop a more successful game plan to prepare with confidence for the coming winter season.
Professionals involved in snow and ice management have begun to move away from using exclusively granular materials and in many cases have adopted liquid anti-icing materials as the product of choice. Why? As a pre-treatment on roadways, parking lots, and walkways, anti-icing products tend to perform better in preventing snow and ice from bonding to paved surfaces.
Liquid anti-icing products coat the surface of roads and parking lots. Once precipitation starts, the melting process begins. The primary objective of these chemicals is to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which provides better traction for automobiles and allows for easier removal of snow and ice down to the paved surface.
Salt, also know as sodium chloride or NaCl, is the most common and inexpensive deicer and has been the industry standard for almost a century. Unfortunately, NaCl as a deicing agent can harm the environment, including landscaped areas near pathways and parking lots, and it can cause erosion.
Today, it is common for crews to wet NaCl with a liquid agent to increase its effectiveness and reduce the amount needed. Converting rock salt to brine also is more common. Crews should never use NaCl products around electrical boxes, structural materials or anywhere safety is a priority because of the corrosion it can create.
2. Seven Alternatives to Rock Salt
This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is seven alternatives to rock salt.
As grounds managers fine-tune their deicing and anti-icing programs, they are seeking alternatives to rock salt, or sodium chloride. Here are seven alternatives:
Calcium chloride. Calcium chloride, or CaCl, is a byproduct of some chemical manufacturing processes. Proper storage is imperative — in plastic or metal bins with lids — because CaCl absorbs water easily.
Magnesium chloride. This deicer comes in a granular form blended with other chlorides or in a liquid solution. It is safe to use around vegetation, but crews should not apply it too heavily because it can become slippery.
Potassium chloride. A good all-around deicer for pedestrian areas, potassium chloride shares the chemical makeup of some fertilizers. As a result, it is safe for use around vegetation and causes minimal impact on soil and water sources.
Urea. This product, which is also a fertilizer, comes in a granular form. When applied in recommended amounts, urea should not harm vegetation and, in fact, can promote growth.
Calcium-magnesium acetate. Calcium-magnesium acetate has limited melting capabilities but is a biodegradable product primarily used to prevent ice formation on concrete, bridges and roads, which are sensitive to corrosion.
Liquid potassium acetate. This environmentally responsible liquid solution is another pre-treatment option that prevents snow and ice from forming on and adhering to paved surfaces. It is biodegradable and available in liquid form, and crews should apply it before a snowstorm to achieve maximum effectiveness.
M-50. This anti-icing product causes minimal environmental impact, is biodegradable, and is less corrosive than distilled water.
3. Snow and Ice: Contractor or In-House Staff
This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media, with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is the advantages and disadvantages of contracting snow and ice removal activities.
An important decision related to snow and ice management is whether to use in-house employees or hire an outside contractor. Cost obviously is an important factor in the matter, but the true costs and savings related to any outsourcing are heavily debated and often hard to pin down.
- The potential advantages of using in-house staff include:
- more control over crews and the timing of removal
- possible cost savings, but only if crews receive proper training
- no ability to transfer risk to a third party
- no contracts to sign with a third party
- and finally, no bidding procedures
- Among the potential disadvantages of using in-house staff are these:
- the need for proper equipment and, more importantly, back-up equipment in case of failure
- the need to buy de-icing or anti-icing materials in advance for at least part of the season to avoid running out mid-storm
- the need to coordinate multiple crews
- the need for proper training for operators and planning for snow and ice storms
- the potential of property damage the organization is responsible for repairing
- responsibility for monitoring the weather and determining whether the needed staff and equipment are ready
- and lastly, potential added risk related to claims for slips and falls.