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How to deal with ice from drain runoff from melting snow?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by NNJSnowRemoval, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. NNJSnowRemoval

    NNJSnowRemoval Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Our company recently cleared a commercial lot and as the snow melted off the roof the next day, it went down the gutters and drains into the lot and froze over pretty bad even though the lot was salted. There are four drains and the lot slopes down hill and the runoff froze over quite significantly. Any suggestions to help prevent this from happening again? Thank you in advance!
  2. GSS LLC

    GSS LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    Spread more salt and sand. Follow up services, good if your payed per application, bad if you're contract.
  3. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    First thing is go back and take pictures of it ,then send a certified letter to the company alerting them to it. Even if they know about it. If someone does fall at least you have proof it was their neglect. But yes,go throw more salt down.
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    This is what separates the men from the boys. Lets face it, plowing is generally plowing. Sure it can be bad, done wrong, etc, but what separates the plow guy from the professional is situations like this. More so this is one of the reasons insurance is sky high. It is not because of the liability that you create at 4am when everyone is sleeping. It is for the liability that is created for when everyone rolls into work at 9am long after you left.

    This should have been talked about during the initial contracting. Next your contract should specifically address the issue of runoff and your role and their role in diagnosing and treating it. Last you should have a plan as to how it should be reduced and dealt with. Bottom line is there are lots of bad parking lot designs and runoff designs out there. The liability though could fall on you if not handled properly. To directly answer your question though, it could be a situation where every morning you have to be there to salt and sand the area. Could ruin you or them, if the later and they have not yet had a major issue with this than your pricing to deal with it could leave them looking for the next jockey to take on the liability unknowingly.
  5. NNJSnowRemoval

    NNJSnowRemoval Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    We went back and spread more salt and the lot was fine. Was thinking of putting extra salt near the drains but I'm not sure how effective that will be.
  6. alldayrj

    alldayrj PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,108

    I would also be mindful of where the drains are and the pitch of the lot before the next push. Maybe pile the snow closer/elsewhere etc so the runoff is handled better
  7. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    I have drains in lots that I have to keep a close eye on for that very reason. The piles sometimes grow over the edges of a few catch basins, which can & has caused further freezing inside of the basin...creating an even bigger problem. Usually, when I'm out doing clean ups, is the best opportunity to clean up around them & open them back up. I always hit them heavy w/ extra salt to keep the water flowing...salt gets plowed into the piles, which can cause a problem several days after an event, if not addressed almost daily...a good day of sunlight will do the same, even when temps are below freezing.
  8. hatefulmechanic

    hatefulmechanic Senior Member
    Messages: 228

    My area is more ice than snow, and one of the key things I put in all contracts is that runoff and ice is a per application event.

    It is not uncommon for temps to be 40-50 during the day, and 20 at night, freezing all the runoff into a solid sheet of ice.

    Stack locations should be preplanned to minimize runoff refreezing, sometimes it takes a season to determine what will be the best.
  9. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Agreeing with another on here, bring it up to the property owner/manager, and just let them know for your own liability protection you are sending them a certified letter stating that they are aware of the problem, asking them to authorize you to maintain the issue at an additional fee, or release you from any and all liability associated with the property.

    Now one of a few things will happen after that. The first (and least likely) possibility is that the manager will say "yes please maintain it" and now you will have a recurring billing opportunity and a chance to sell more labor hours and material throughout the winter.

    However if it is a seasonal, espeically with a large corporation or national, you will not get any extra money, and you will not get any signed letter releasing you from liability. So what are you left to do?

    If there is no opportunity for extra money, and no chance of getting yourself released from liability, here is how I fix the problem. Get a burlap bag, fill it with bulk salt, tie off the top, and place one bag pushed up against the bottom/opening of each down spout. As the water comes down the downspout, it will be forced to filter through a decent sized permeable bag of salt, thus creating a saline brine that will not freeze before it has a chance to dry out on the pavement (unless of course it gets very seriously cold out).

    Just don't tell the environmentalists about this idea! :laughing:
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  10. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    That would be very ugly. Instead, add a screen at the bottom of the downspout, and then go to the top with a bag of salt. Pour the salt in until it's filled to the top. Top it off after a few storms. :laughing: I wonder if that would work...
  11. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    Please don't take offense but I can't believe this is even a question in here. Snow melts, water freezes, salt lower's the freezing points hence "melts off snow and ice". Keep salting!
  12. NNJSnowRemoval

    NNJSnowRemoval Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I was asking how to prevent returning to re-salt. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.
  13. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    That was my point, snow is going to melt and re-freeze as long as the weather says so. You just need to keep going back. We do a very large parking lot and we have to pile snow near a parking lane at the end of the lot and every day we are there salting. We do run the salt truck very slow with the spinner barely moving and make kind of a wall of salt and that seems to help a ton and any water that gets through is now brine and doesn't re freeze for quite a while.
  14. LuckyPlower

    LuckyPlower Senior Member
    Messages: 164

    Agreed, Just have to keep hitting the area with salt and monitor the place with site checks
  15. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    But what is the end result? You were doing your job salting and notified the owners about the problem. Now if someone falls ,you will more then likely be sued for not doing your job.
  16. dfd9

    dfd9 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,475

    Salt the roof. Thumbs Up
  17. LuckyPlower

    LuckyPlower Senior Member
    Messages: 164

    I guess if it's bad then ask the owner or PM of the building to rectify the issue. Move the downspout or improve drainage somehow. Maybe even fence it off for the winter if it's not an important area.

    With increase risk comes increase costs... raise your price to cover this area. Not just in extra salt/monitoring but for liability. If you can't put a price on liability and your worried then don't re sign with the client. Also, you could look at taking the liability off yourself because of this issue. Have a contract that takes the liability off you unless the issue is rectified.

    Just some thoughts, but in the meantime I would stay on top of it.
  18. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    This is the main reason we do site checks 7 days a week for the entire winter. When we bid a job this service is included as it doesn''t matter whose fault the water is as your name will be on the slip and fall regardless. We also have a problem wiht cleaning companies throwing water out on sidewalks and parking lots. We know this isn't our fault but it's just easier to fix the problem because it just falls on deaf ears. Most of our places are salt included but the ones that aren't we only charge a very small fee when we have to spread salt during site checks as we just want to break even on the service. Site checks also give the guys extra hours and it also keeps everyone on their toes for an unexpected early morning snow fall as the the lastest the site truck leaves in the morning is 5 am.

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

  20. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    Pay for someone to install a heated driveway. That way you never have to go back. Just flick the switch and the snow will stay melted!

    Stratton Mountain in Vermont has their walkway like this in their village.