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Removing packed snow and ice from sidewalks

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Leanworks, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    I'm bidding on a gig doing town delinquents and if successful, will enjoy spreading the sand salt mix supplied - once I've cleared the walks to concrete or pavement.

    My problem is not clearing the snow, which is easy but rather, the two to six inches of hard packed snow and ice melted and refrozen over days or weeks of inattention by residents so that I can say I've done the job and then apply the sand salt mix.

    My idea is to get the list of the addresses at say noon of any given day and then run out as fast as possible and clear the snow then after, apply some half decent deicer to soften the walks up with. End result is the morning crew has less manual to deal with.

    Temperatures go from extremes to extremes here meaning negative forty to plus same but one thing is for sure - it will, but not when you need it to.

    Can somebody please point me in the right direction as to what compound be it liquid or solid I might want to use to lower the human labor cost with the temperatures going so low. The customer certainly won't be paying however, I will be in labor costs and, given the length of time these walkways have sat gathering abuse and ice, figure each will be the only time I attend to them. Meaning that there most likely won't be a need for repeated treatments to the same area.

    Thanks all.:redbounce
  2. M & MD Lawn

    M & MD Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    The first Idea that comes to mind for me is to pretreat with a deicer that is rated for minus whatever temp you need
  3. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543

    I'll give you my two cents. I would hit it with your sand /salt mix then hit it with liquid calcium, breaks up great. Never see temps that low here. Also google Magic Salt, I have never tried it but it's for low temps and i guess the greatest stuff ever so the website says.
  4. M & MD Lawn

    M & MD Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    I looked into Magic salt and I wanna give it a try, I would say pretreat with it, its supposed to not leave a residue either it applied rite
  5. daniel1

    daniel1 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Calcium pellets. Pure. I do the same thing for a township here. Pre-treatment is probably not an option given the fact you are dealing with delinquents. Prestone Driveway Heat will soften 2-3 inches of ice at -30F with a cost of around $5-6 per 20lb. bag from a distributor if you buy in volume. Avoid calcium flake. I've found it doesn't penetrate nearly enough to break the bond and allow for your men to get a clean scrape the morning after. It also get's blown around easy when the wind picks up and that could mean alot of money disappering in thin air.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  6. edgeair

    edgeair Senior Member
    Messages: 597

    Tell the town to get off their butts and clear the walks themselves when it snows. You guys get charged enough taxes (I know, I used to live there) and the town should be clearing their own property, not bumming it off on the adjacent landowner (most sidewalks sit on town owned land, but they seem to think they can get away with charging the homeowner that sits behind the walk).

    To call someone a delinquent, you should have all the facts in play. Just because the "town said so" doesn't make any sense to call them that. They likely have a very good reason for not doing so.

    Alberta is the only province I have lived in that cheaps out on their snow removal and tries to charge the residents extra for guys like you that go around and do their dirty work for them. I don't know how many times I have tried in the past to drive around a subdivision there and you need a 4WD at 3 in the afternoon 3 days after a storm. Yet the bylaw department is out in full force handing out tickets to homeowners that can barely get out past their lane to clean up their sidewalk.

    In Ontario they clear the sidewalks at the same time as the streets, and where they don't they don't' get their cronies to drive around picking on the seniors that take a few hours to get out and clear their sidewalks (which they don't have to do). Not your fault, but please don't overcharge the residents for your time, that is just not fair (I have heard of it happening lots. It doesn't take 3 hours at $45 an hour to clear 60' of sidewalk, no matter what the condition). Just because the list comes from the rich town/city, doesn't mean the work you are doing will get charged to someone that can afford it.

    Sorry, but you hit a nerve here. I have no respect for bureaucrats that make up rules that cost the average joe these big bucks.
  7. daniel1

    daniel1 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Make your solid profit. You deserve it. It sounds like your bidding so you won't have much ability to price gouge anyhow. Clear sidewalks are crucial or else people will walk on the street and then put both themselves and drivers at risk. That is why municipalities take it seriously. If all cities/towns were responsible for keeping the sidewalks clear the taxes on all of us would be higher. Homeowners and businesses need to have a plan to keep there property clear and safe. That is what keeps all us contractors in business.
  8. edgeair

    edgeair Senior Member
    Messages: 597


    I do understand the original logic behind the downloading by the towns and municipalities to the closest homeowner - yes it was to reduce taxes.

    However, what most homeowners are unaware of is the amount of $ we are talking here saved by these municipalities is a few $ per resident per year. This is why a good number of municipalities just do it and build it in to the tax base. I live near a municipality that does clear the bulk of its sidewalks with 1 machine, including all the downtown wide ones etc., which they would have to do anyways (population of 10000). What does it really cost per resident each year they run that machine? Peanuts. Even if it cost $100,000 per year (which it does not), thats only $10 per resident. I am pretty sure every resident would be more than happy to pay the $10 extra and not have to shovel the darn sidewalk, not to mention the "convenience" of those that use the sidewalk having it consistently cleared all the way along. If a small town can afford to have a sidewalk machine with its small tax base, then why does a city need to delegate the job to every homeowner when it has a much broader tax base?

    These Alberta municipalities that I am referring to have raised taxes continuously over the last number of years, while at the same time they drive around in brand spanking new pickup trucks, tool cats, backhoes, pay loaders and a fleet of dump trucks for a small town (all brand new or less than 2 years old this year - heaven forbid they own an older set of trucks or sub out the snow hauling so that they don't have most of these trucks sit for the summer), so they do know how to spend money like it is water. The amount of money it would cost for 1, maybe two, sidewalk machines for a small city that it could serve per year divided by the residents there could be more than found within the fat budgets the various departments waste each year. Get rid of the multi level useless managers salaries and there, the sidewalks are cleared. And if they can't do it for $10 per resident, I'll do it for that and make a killing :dizzy:

    Also, does a sidewalk in a newly developed subdivision with less than 50% occupancy really need to be shovelled when the street itself is not cleared for 3+ days after a storm? (real case scenario) I find it hypocritical that this community will be issuing tickets to people for not clearing their walks, when the streets haven't been touched and people are driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid being stuck :dizzy:

    In fact the money spent on having a bylaw officer drive around and write tickets would go a long way to clearing the sidewalks for the whole city in the first place.

    But then they wouldn't get to write tickets that way would they.....

    The city that I am familiar with in Alberta, to my knowledge does not get bids on this service. They hire only one company and that company charges by the hour plus materials used.

    Real case scenario here: a 60' sidewalk, 3' wide supposedly took this company 3 hours to clear, at $45 per hour, plus $25 in materials. I guess they were using a screwdriver to clear the snow? They couldn't have done much ice chipping to use that much in materials either. When someone gets a surprise $160 bill just for a one time clearing of a sidewalk, there is a problem with the system. There isn't $160 worth of inconvenience being caused by this so called "delinquent" not clearing some snow from a sidewalk owned by the city that happens to be in front of their property. That is a disproportionate "penalty" imposed, no matter whether they are at fault or not.

    It sounds from the OP that he is bidding a fixed price on these, which could be tough as there are a lot of variables. Not very much snow in that area, but the ice can be a problem.

    I do agree with you Daniel on the product to be used. Ca Pellets all the way for built up ice. Its just too bad that the municipality is too lazy to serve their residents properly in the first place, this would not be an issue if that were the case.
  9. daniel1

    daniel1 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Points well taken. I will only reiterate two points again and call it quits. The threat of a large fine to homeowners and businesses promotes the need to hire contractors and have a plan for inevitable snow and ice throughout the entire winter season. That's great for us in the business. Also, the additional union labor required to clear sidewalks as a municipality would factor large in the overall cost to that municipality (benefits, pension, etc.). That is why I handle the sidewalks of "property owners late on clearing property deemed their responsibilty by democratically elected officials". For a 60' walkway 3' wide I would be paid a fixed $40 to clear and deice with rocksalt provided by the township.If the snow depth is a foot or more I would get $60. That's a fair price and probably accurate of most pricing related to this issue. The property owner would be fined $120 so yes this does make money for municipalities but that's what turns the world. I handle this for a township of 14,000 residents in a heavy lake effect snow belt. If we get a 6" snow event I on average would clear 40 lots early in the season and maybe 20 later in the season when people have become fearful of the citation. That is to little work to scrap the current system and purchase equipment and hire labor to clear all sidewalks like your area.
  10. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    Thanks Daniel! I'll try to get a line on it. Did a couple of tests on some of the worst sides in town yesterday. Problem was, it was about 40 degrees F LOL. Used a half bag of five buck Wal Mart standard for a hundred foot sectiono f three inch snow pack and an inch of ice then a bag of some more expensive stuff good for negative 30 for another. The salt perfumed better and after three hours I blew pretty much all of it away with a leaf blower.

    My buddy was in the shop so we went for coffee and drove around. He charges a buck an hour for Bob Cat work and says he can do whatever I need with zip for travel time if I have a couple hours of work for him. He has the town on his insurance as well so they won't argue if he ends up doing the work. Says he can do a hundred feet of side in about ten minutes if he can get at it from the street so, feeling fairly comfortable with my offer.

    Oh, offer is going to be a buck and a half a foot or five bucks a meter. I figure they charge the customer(delinquent) out the price of clearing anyhow (with profit) so are mainly concerned with getting it done reliably.

    Some test.:sleeping:
  11. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    Got that right however, I need some money to mount my campaign to change the world and this is the first step.

    They sure do. Things like assuming their tenants are doing what they, by law, are supposed to is one area that is a problem for them however, I used the word 'delinquent' as to use the word 'people that may or may not have gotten the message of the town's policy over the years it has been in force to clear their frontage that is owned by the town of snow to enable the safe passage of pedestrians for purposes of commerce, play and emergency' would have been a little overblown. Delinquent is an apt term as it is short and sweet.

    LOL gets so bad here that the by law guys can't even get out!

    Plan is to charge a buck fifty a foot. Town can up it to whatever they want as they pay me and irregardless of what I charge, they will present the bill which is "between two hundred to five hundred" if they have to come back after a notice has been given. I view it as an opportunity to use some unique equipment and procedures to do a job they don't seem to be able to. They don't have blower and I have three as well as one mounted on a quad as well as three blades on quads and eight guys with jobs and staggerd hours that want to make some extra bucks.

    I hope to lessen the blow to residents by dong the job, dropping off a flyer with logo and phone number and giving away a price deal on the entire property so that they won't have to deal with this sort of crap again. Something like 'call me and the first one is half price' which might soften the blow. Like, I'm only the messenger and I feel your pain.

    Either do I and, my first comment was not in jest. Well, not totally.Thumbs Up
  12. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    My price will be high as I'm not screwing around. I want to guarantee I can do it and do my people right as well. Further objectives are, as Im sure Edgeair would approve - to make this a no brainer for the town and just have them turn over the sidewalks to me in total along with alleyways which will be three foot drifts when we actually do get snow as they don't do squat around here. The town has a couple of Rhinos with blades but have a by law that states you can't use a blade on a sidewalk go figure!

    I don't cut others grass as I have a job so am only looking for a niche that I believe I can provide. I recognize that there are often reasons for not clearing the sidewalk that is actually town property but, I can give away freebees later, right now I'm trying to get established an known and this is a great way as Behan Behan, the famous Irish playwright said -'No such thing as bad publicity - as long as it's not your own obituary.'

    I do volunteer work and clear some of the locally challenged people's houses as a courtesy and am Vice President of the Legion here. In other words, I'm not a dick but, if people can't comply with the law, take it up with city hall and, if they do it from their end, and I do it from my end, I got a full time job and a company that makes me more money than I do playing slinky on icy roads with a hundred thousand pounds of grain on two trailers I drag up and down mountain hills with the DOT giving chase when the sun shines.
  13. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    Hi Edgeair!

    Talk about hijacking a thread but thanks! I hope to be the owner of said machine at the end of this year to tell the truth. Right now, the guy at the town upon learning I had quads as my forte was citing the by laws and Albert DOT definition of an ATV nd then upon clarifying what the bid was going to be and providing the specific criteria (which I met WCB, Insurance, Incorporation, Experience, References etc) said that exceptions can be made s the town was looking at buying the exact same equipment I have.

    And that, my friend is where I am gazing at.

    That's why they want me to do it. If they can't clear it, they can't really issue a ticket can they

    I charge by the foot in this case no matter what it cost me. I pray I calculated right and those who might underbid me, I hope they make out alright if awarded the contract.

    Guy calls me up, asks how much to clear his property, I say ten bucks for off and on loading gear, a two car drive, another ten and look at his ten foot path to the door and a sixty foot sidewalk and say 'thirty bucks and I don't do less than four inches - if you a Legion member, ten percent off' so it's twenty five bucks a push.

    Turns out he's heading for Az and doesn't give hoot when it gets done just so he doesn't get a tickee from the town and the place looks like it's lived in. He says that's just all he wants.

    Point being, most people who don't live in a cave know they have to clear their walks and I have advertising out - even beer coasters at the Legion for crying out loud as well as place mats at every old age home and posters in various elderly points if frequency all over town so, I'm not the CIA in the undercover mode.so, if I show up at their sidewalk, there's a good reason.

    I figured a buck and a half a foot is going to cover me. All other contractors are either too big to want to bother with this for less or, are just some guy with a shovel and a crack habit and can't meet the criteria they want so, made my price based on what makes me feel comfortable. I thank you for the ice management advice and hope that you don't view me as the enemy of the people as I ultimately hope to change things to our benefit.
  14. bharkness

    bharkness Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    Back to your question to stat just take rock salt and wet it with Liquid Calcium and put it on the hard pack and will start melting rite away, you don't need all that real expensive stuff it may take 2 coats but it will clear it.
  15. edgeair

    edgeair Senior Member
    Messages: 597

    I have nothing against you being the guy to do these cleanups (needed or not), as long as you are not a gouger, and it sounds like you are not.

    My points related to the hypocritical municipality that cannot be bothered to clear a street, while at the same time handing out snow clearing citations for the exact same adjacent sidewalks. The case I presented relates to someone who owned a vacant empty lot in a developing subdivision and had to leave the province for family reasons. As the city was not maintaining the streets to any level of professionalism, it seemed that the sidewalks did not need to be also. The city had that persons phone number, email address etc. in the new residence, but instead chose to snail mail a notice giving 24 hours to clean up. So on the same day, a notice was received, along with a separate envelope containing an invoice dated the same day - interesting.

    So, 1. 24 hours was not granted to this person. 2. If it were a case of safety, the bylaw officer should have contacted by phone or email, knowing full well that a mailed letter would take a week or more to reach the person.

    As a snow removal professional like yourself, I also welcome the opportunity to take on more work - whether it be sidewalks, driveways or whatever. So I don't disagree with you bidding on these, someone is going to do it so it may as well be you. What I disagree with is the interpretation of the rules by the middle management at city hall that results in an increased coffer to them and a further "tax" to the residents. All for something that most of the time relates to city owned property.

    I think your rates seem fair. I just can't figure out how one municipality (yours) bids this out, while another in a larger population has only one company that does this AND its hourly. I know for a fact that even if it were solid ice, I wouldn't charge 3 hours at $45 per hour plus materials for 60' of sidewalk, I would be more like your price of 1.5 a foot so $90.

    Don't waste your $ on that cheap walmart junk for a heavy job like this. We have a product in this area called Lava melt that is supposed to work down to -30. I have never used it for something like your application, but for general ice breakup it works in pretty cold temps.
  16. daniel1

    daniel1 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    God bless the U.S.. Canadian by-laws pertaning to snow removal sound as obstrusive as everything else up there. Me and my buddies often time hopped the border for full club enertainment in the Falls years back but I began to feel guilty driving my F-350 Powerstroke down Lundy's Lane and having the "Mounties" stop me for a noise ordinance. I will clear the walks here with an 8 ft. V-plow if I wish and uber-liberal Obama would even pat me on the back thanking me for gettin er done. Canada has been taken over by liberals who think too much.
  17. edgeair

    edgeair Senior Member
    Messages: 597

    Well said. I find myself having to do more and more of my equipment/materials/electronics etc etc shopping south of the border as every time I do I am treated to a far broader range of choices at substantially lower prices. Don't' get me wrong, I support the local guy wherever I can, but when I save 25% plus plus, it gets real hard to do that. Every time I go south, I also experience a greater sense of appreciation for the blue collar guy, and more of the "lets get this job done" vs. "we better check the rule book before we lift a finger" mentality compared to what I see at home.

    I do think that both sides of the border would do well to help each other out of this slump and get er done so to speak if we could do away with a lot of this B.s. and just get to work. Micro managing by beaurcrats does nothing to help our continent get out of a recession and get back on top of the world again. Lets face it, do you think the Chinese have as many laws to follow, even considering its a communist country, as we do? I doubt it very much. They wouldn't be able to sell their stuff as cheap as they do if they had as much red tape as we do.
  18. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    :waving: Yea! Sounds simple enough and have found a dealer in a nearby city. Without knowing how do mix or the proper mixture I went through the thought process earlier anyhow.

    Figured I'd take a plastic auger hopper and throw a fifty pound bag of salt, add calcium. Add another bag, add more then repeat as necessary. Then, shovel the mixture into plastic containers on each of the trailers and truck. Figuring it would be mixed with the shoveling.

    So, questions are, is it simply a case of trial and error or is there an actual formula? Is the stuff dangerous? And, as per my procedure, looking around on this site, people speak of storing the salt in the container on the truck and then adding the calcium when the time comes and, I assume, adding more to the leftovers when they go to use it again.

    Place I found spoke of the stuff being good down to negative fifty nine. I take it that at that temperature, you would be using so much of it that it's crazy but, wondering, how much or how low should I attempt to mix to avoid a negative reaction with the surface or surrounding grass?

    And, if pre mixed, how long is the mix good for?

    Thanks for the advice!
  19. Leanworks

    Leanworks Member
    Messages: 40

    Frickin' knew it! I entered "Lava Melt ice management Red Deer" into google and found a great selection of Lava Lamps.


    Got a link for your supplier?
  20. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow and ice build up

    You might be money ahead if you rent an air compressore and fabricate an air lance with a flattened air nozzle to blast the snow and ice away(this is the same way that CSX does it around its railroad switches using a jet engine for an air source(granted the heats a nice side benefit.