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Packed snow turned ice on steep driveway, help!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by larboc, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. larboc

    larboc Member
    Messages: 98

    I have a customer that I recently took over plowing from whoever he had before. It's a U shaped drive with the legs of the U very steep uphill from the street. They must have not plowed very often and driven on it a lot because there is a THICK mat of well groomed ice under the snow. I have to get a run at each leg of the U from the street and backblade the snow off in a 4-wheel locked slide down the drive, exposing the ice so slick you can hardly walk up. I feel bad because removing the snow makes it slicker.

    I think I'm going to have to put some product down. I was thinking about mixing some sand and salt together and spreading it by hand after plowing but I'm afraid its just going to slide down as they pull in/slide out.
    Any suggestions?
  2. mc1

    mc1 Senior Member
    Messages: 171

    is this a joke. get a couple of bags of sidewalksalt spread by hand and done . or if you really want to look like a pro buy a salter and salt after every trip charge accordingly and you will have a customer for life. drives like that demand salt on every trip just charge them the fact that they wont have to buy new tires this spring will be savings enough.
  3. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    Yes you could do that, I'd say if its thick ice you will want to apply a few times in 24-36 hrs First application use a 50/50 sand salt mix.If you put mostly sand it will slide off the ice and act like ball bearings. The salt in the mix will melt/burn holes into the ice giving the sand a chance to settle.
    second application just throw a few shovels worth of salt into your sand making a 10/90 mostly sand mix. By then the salt will be working allowing the sand to aid traction.
  4. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,069

    Use Peladow!
  5. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    I would get an excess amount of Magic salt, then plow off some hardpack--- apply again, repeat as needed until you're down to bare blacktop.Then, after each plowing, apply whatever ice control method you choose.
  6. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Get a five gallon bucket and a couple/four bags of blended ice melt. Spread an even coat of ice melt over the drive. In the bucket mix 2 gallons of water and stir in as much ice melt as the water will absorb. Wait until you see holes appearing in the ice coat then pour the liquid mix over the drive. The solids will burn holes for the liquid to run though. The liquids will run under the ice releasing it's bond and allowing you to scrape it up. You may need more material I don't know the size of the drive.

    Doing it on a sunny day will help.
  7. fireside

    fireside Senior Member
    Messages: 726

    There is a reason that the snow was packed down causing the ice condition. If the pack down is as bad as you stated it's because they didn't PLOW the driveway they just drove over it. If they are not paying you to remove the pack down i would not do it. I'm always very concerned about mid season accounts change over what was the reason?
    If you want to get rid of it. i would hot mix some sand and salt 30/70 just so you can back in over it. than let it sit. than reapply a load of salt.
  8. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Thumbs Up:nod::nod:
  9. dfd9

    dfd9 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,475

    Take a gander at his location. I haven't been there in awhile, but I am pretty sure salt\sand are not used extensively in an area that can easily receive 200+ inches of snow.

    So just accusing this guy of not being a pro or telling him that drives like that demand salt is rather ignorant. Sure it's a college town, but it's also the UP, where the economy has sucked for about 15 years.

    Some folks can live with snow, as it is a fact of life. Others think 1 flake is going to speed up the Mayan calendar and must be salted as it's falling from the sky.
  10. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,870

    This says something right here......:nod:
  11. V_Scapes

    V_Scapes PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,072

    I always use calcium magnesium acetate to melt hard packed ice and snow. its expensive material but works very fast. spread a liberal amount on the driveway just before the sun hits it. Lava Melt or Mr. Magic.
  12. larboc

    larboc Member
    Messages: 98

    We maybe get 10hrs of sunlight between november and april, but I'll look for some of that.

    dfd9 knows what I'm talking about. even though we are way behind on snowfall this year, we've had 152" of snow so far this year with 3 feet on the ground. Also, houghton/hancock are both built on hills (think san fransisco, but with a lake effect snow machine) so naturally a great deal of my customers have slopped drives. Everyone that I've been taking care off all winter have nice driveways with no ice, except the one in question (which I started plowing mid january) that is giving me heartaches.

    I plow for college students on an on-call setup for $15 per call, or I just keep the driveway clean and send them a bill for $15 per trip at the end of the month. What happens all too often is I'll get a call from someone that has been shoveling/driving over the snow all year and they want me to come plow it bare.

    I like the idea of "it's not my problem", but I can hardly get up it to plow, even with a 55 gallon drum of ice in the bed. I'd charge them if I had to spread salt/sand but before I'm out there sliding around with a hand spreader and some bags I wanted to know what others do. I'll charge him extra for the sanding/salting.

    I appreciate the help! I'm not a pro by any means but I've been doing this for a few years for supplemental income (broke ass grad student), but I've never had this bad of a driveway.

    The driveway in question is crushed mine rock btw.
  13. dfd9

    dfd9 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,475

    Don't bother with the CMA, larboc, it's way too expensive for anyone in the UP to pay for and is basically crap.

    If you want to smoke the ice off, try plain old calcium chloride. Relatively cheap and fast working. And you won't need a ton of it as you will CMA.

    Good luck and no judgments here, I completely understand what you're dealing with.

    Just another example of how things work in the UP. There are roads that are seasonal. That means when the snow falls, they aren't plowed by the counties or state. If you live off one, you better have a snowmobile, because you won't see pavement (gravel) until April. Or May. I just don't think most people understand what you are dealing with. Physically and the mental aspect of what people think about snow up by you.
  14. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    Exactly, I'm with him.

    I had a very similar driveway last season. It went straight downhill and the house was the first thing you came up to which had barely a flat spot before you got there. It had a very small turnoff to both the left and right (maybe enough for a small car each way). After I'd plow the sun would melt it a bit but it was very shaded and would re-freeze. Literally a sheet of smooth ice the next snowstorm.

    The owner didn't want to pay for sand or salt and would never apply enough of their own to do anything. So my last resort was tire chain's. I bought 2 pairs and put them on all 4 tires, the truck never slid an inch afterwards. It was like I was driving on dry pavement, of course I took it easy so I wouldn't spin and possibly damage the driveway or my truck but it made a world of difference.
  15. larboc

    larboc Member
    Messages: 98

    So you put on and took off chains every time you plowed?

    I've got chains on the rear of my scout that I use to plow my yard at home and yea, they work great but I don't know if I'd want to screw around with them every time I went to plow the guys place. Not for $15-$20 anyway
  16. jomama45

    jomama45 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,190

    Pretty common occurance in the UP, when "Panking a trail" goes bad..............

    listen to dfd9, he's giving you good info...........
  17. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    Yup, lay them down, drive forward. Wrap them around and connect/clamp down. Done. Took all of 10 minutes to do all 4 and I'd never plow a drive for $15-$20 especially one that is up or down hill.

    BOSS LAWN Senior Member
    Messages: 497

    Well make sure your charging them for the wear and tear on your truck.
  19. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    I like dfd9's posts also. Sounds like he has a good grasp on whats going on up there. The only other thing I could think of is that I have some clients (and a road) on the lake Michigan shoreline that live in the hills who don't want the use of salts/chemicals unless it is requested by the homeowners. Its not because they don't want to pay for the product, they are more concerned of the environmental effects. They would rather live with a little snow/ice than put salt/chemicals down.
  20. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Your current temp is right now around 32*F, your lowest temp over the next 48 hours doesn't show below 25*F. Your most effective choice based on cost, temp, time frame, and effectiveness for your own traction to complete the job is going to be rock salt.

    You didn't give very specific details about the slope and the amounts of snow and ice pack or the overall length of the drive, but this method will work regardless, unless the snow is higher than your axles. I'll assume each leg of the drive doesn't exceed 100' & I'll also assume that maybe you can't see past your hood when driving upward.

    Based on that...one ton of salt (bulk) approximately $75-85, would be more than enough to get it to bare pavement pending the amount of time that you have. Again assuming, that you can't climb the drive in forward or reverse, you can start by manually applying salt in two heavy tire width paths where you would be driving. Don't do the center yet. The material should be at it's heaviest at the highest points of the drive and to the higher edges. This will do two things...1. giving you traction, something your tires will have to bite into, 2. by driving over a few times, the salt will be ground deeper into the ice developing a slurry. As the slurry becomes more liquid, you should notice the width of those tracks begin to widen. You should also see where the salt water begins to start running downhill, with the heavier concentration near the top it will increase the melting down below. Water always takes the path of least resistance & will at some point find its way under the ice pack & eventually break the bond. Once you feel comfortable with driving on it (after the salt has had adequate time to work), you can begin scraping it down. The salt at this point in time should be below the higher snow, which would pose no problems as far it it being plowed off. Once you get the drive down to a manageable or reasonable thickness, you can apply a general coating to the entire surface area. If done right, you should have enough residual salt left on the drive, that will make your next plowing event more manageable. The more you can drive on it, the more you will accelerate the process. Obviously, the amount of material that is used will also be relevant as to how fast or how long it takes to complete.

    If bulk salt is not an option for you, bag salt will work fine but only double or even triple the cost. If bags are to be used, best to just cut a small corner off the bag and spill it out in the same method. Too thin & too wide will take too long and possibly a lot more material.

    Charge accordingly & good luck!