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The beauty and reality of winter home maintenance in the Northwoods.

A snowfall in the Northwoods is beautiful and watching it fall for hours by the wood-stove is relaxing. In the morning the newly fallen snow glistens on the trees and you sit back, relax with a coffee in hand and enjoy the natural beauty of nature. Then you realize that you must clean it up so you can get out of your driveway. You grab your shovel or start up that snow blower and get to work. If you are lucky enough to own a plow you can make quick work of it. Better yet, you have someone do it for you. Whether you are doing it yourself or have a snow removal company helping you out. Keep in mind these tips that will help protect your home after a snowfall.

1. Place tall stakes around the driveway and sidewalks.

These are good reminders for you or the snow removal company of where to shovel and plow. It will also protect your yard from being ruined.

2. Never shovel or plow snow near the foundation!

Avoid piling snow around your home. This can cause flooding and block drainage. Water next to the foundation could cause major cracks in your foundation. In addition, once the snow starts to melt you can end up with water leaking into your basement or crawlspace.

3. Use rock salt with caution.

If you are using rock salt on your concrete driveway and walkways, use in moderation. Rock salt is effective at melting snow and ice, but it allows melt-off to refreeze. The cycle of freezing and thawing will continue, which can erode your concrete driveway's surface. Why does this happen? Concrete is porous, and water gets trapped inside, then expands when it turns to ice, and breaks off chips of your driveway. Rock salt can also sink deep into concrete and accelerate the corrosion rate of steel rods that are embedded in your concrete to reinforce it.

4. Look up at the trees.

Snowfalls can make tree limbs heavy and more prone to breaking. This is concerning when the tree is near your house. If possible, try safely brushing off the snow after every snowfall. Do not shake the tree! This can cause brittle limbs to break.

5. Check for snow and ice dams.

Snow and ice dams can not only damage your shingles. The water that backs up behind them can leak into your home and cause damage to your walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. If you see any starting to build up remove them right away to prevent them from getting larger.

6. After heavy snowfalls check the snow load on your roof.

Snow on your roof is a good insulator and can reduce your heating bill. If the snow on your roof is sticking around it also means your insulation is in good shape. However, too heavy of a snow load can be disastrous. The amount of snow needed before removal depends on multiple factors including the pitch of your roof. A rule of thumb is 18” or more should be removed. ***Please be aware the shoveling or raking snow from your roof can be dangerous. We recommend you consider calling a roofing company to get the job done.

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