Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Winter Prepping In Canada - Calcium Chloride

As many of us begin preparations for the holiday season, temperatures outside are slowly but continually dropping as winter sets in.  In the coming weeks, the entirety of the country will be covered with varying degrees of snowfall and temperatures will not be going up for a few months.  Canadian winters can be down right miserable.  Snowfalls can be measured in feet in a single storm, temperatures often dip below minus forty, and services can be spotty to say the least.

One of the many problems we face as Canadians is ice build up.  Driveways, walkways and stairs that have been covered in ice can cause nasty limb breaking falls, or strand us home.  Most of us are familiar with deicing salt and it's many variations, but once the outside temperature hits minus 10c or lower, it really doesn't work well...or at all!

Of course, let's not forget about the damage it can do to concrete walkways, patio stones, ashphalt driveways, and of course the environment.  A few years of salt use on concrete can turn it into something resembling gravel.  There MUST be a better way!  There is...Calcium Chloride.  This is sold at most hardware stores and home centres.  A bit more expensive than typical deicing options, it has advantages that can't be beat.  Typically, Calcium Chloride will melt ice at outside temperatures of minus 25c...I've had luck up to minus 40c.  It also happens to be more environmentally friendly, especially to garden beds that may be near your walkways that salt.

Another typical ice problem many of us face is ice dams on the roof.  A buildup of ice on the roof can easily cause damage to the roof itself as well as water damage inside the home.  Ice dams are caused when heat escapes through the roof, melting snow.  This water then runs down the roof line until it hits the overhang of the roof, which is cold and freezes.  A continuing flow of water will have no route to escape, thus sitting on the roof surface and eventually finding a way into the home.  Here is a visual of what I'm talking about:

Calcium Chloride is also a good choice here as it will not damage ashphalt shingles.  Sprinkle it liberally over ice build up on the roof and you will see water flowing from your roof in a minute or two...yup, it's that fast!

Typically, I go through 2-3 50lb bags per year.  Purchased at the beginning of the season and stored in buckets, I never have to worry about ice being a problem...even when it's too cold for salt to work.

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