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Crazy-Cold Concrete: 4 Strategies for Maintaining Your Driveway in the Winter

An iced-over driveway is a problem, and not just because someone might slip on it. Concrete expands and contracts as the weather changes. When your driveway is exposed to ice, the rapid changes in temperature can cause cracks and damages that are costly to repair. Try these tricks to keep your driveway clear of ice and free from damage this winter season. 

Drain Away from the Driveway 
During the winter, snow melts in the day and re-freezes overnight. If the runoff makes it onto your driveway before the freeze, you'll wake up to a thick sheet of ice. Set up proper drains to keep your driveway dry and prevent that second freeze from happening. 

An edging drain is a concrete channel that runs along the side of your driveway, collects water, and funnels it somewhere that it can't do damage. Install these drains along both sides of your driveway, and make sure they are slightly lower so that snow melt naturally runs towards them. Finally, remember to point your gutters away from your driveway; you don't want the snow that melts off your roof to freeze on the concrete below. 

Use the Right De-Icing Agents 
Salt melts snow, but it can actually damage concrete. Concrete is slightly porous; when salt gets into these pores, it increases the rate of water absorption and can result in a waterlogged and cracked driveway. 

Instead of salt, try using a different de-icing agent. Many commercial products make use of calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or potassium chloride, all which pose significantly less harm to your concrete. 

Invest in a Rubber-Edged Snow Shovel 
When you're trying to protect your driveway, the last thing you want to hear is the sound of a metal snow shovel scraping across concrete. You might not notice the scratches on your driveway right away, but you'll definitely see them in the spring. A rubber-edged snow shovel is a more effective way to remove ice, and has the added benefit of leaving your driveway scratch free. 

Try a Hand-Pushed Snow Plow
You probably don't have room in your garage for a full-sized snow plow, but a hand-pushed snow plow is the next best thing. These tools combine a wide snow plow with two wheels and a comfortable handle, and are used similarly to a manual lawn mower. Instead of shoveling for hours, you can remove snow and ice in a few quick trips across your driveway. This will give the ice less time to cause damage to your driveway.

Driveway maintenance can seem like a lot of work, but the alternative is far more expensive and time consuming. One bad freeze can result in deep cracks that require fresh concrete pouring to repair. Do your best to remove snow and ice before they get the chance to freeze again; your driveway will appreciate it.

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