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Tips or products you recommend for clearing or preventing ice in winter? Answered

My partner and I just bought a house and we're doing some repairs and upgrades. One of the major things I want to focus on is making our front entrance less icy. Most of the time we're covered in snow, but whenever it warms up briefly we end up with an icy disaster on the front porch the next morning. :P

Currently, the roof melt runs right off onto our front steps and it's a mess! (see picture for the icicle death trap)

I have been using a "pet-safe" ice melt (we have two dogs who are in and out all day) but it doesn't do enough for how much I go through. I still break up the ice in the morning when using the ice melt because the ice builds up really quickly.

Are there gutters strong enough to handle heavy snowfall? Some sort of heating element I could install?

For reference, I'm in northern CO in the mountains and we tend to get feet of snowfall every winter! I've never lived somewhere with this much snow, but I'm hoping some of you do and can offer some suggestions :D



9 months ago

Get the same kind of matting they use for radiant floor heeting and make a plug for it. Spread it out on the porch and put some type of material over it. If you could adjust the temp it should keep it ice free no problem. Just like a heated sidewalk.


10 months ago

It's also a good idea to carry a lock de-icer with you to clear your lock


10 months ago

Burning coal will help eliminate all of the ice in about 100 years... ;)


10 months ago

I am now more or less in desert country but grew up with tons of snow every winter, so maybe some of this might help:

1. Install snow catchers on your roof if it is sturdy enough to support the weight of the snow.
Just two rows with 20 and 60 cm distance from the gutters should keep the snow up there.
2. For the winter install a sloping board over the entrance so water runs off to one side.
Better still: Add a proper sized gutter over the entrance area.
3. Using PVC is better than steel gutters and downpipes!
Unlike metal in PVC nothing sticks enough when frozen, you can push most of the snow or ice out or flush it down.

The biggest problem is alwys those times when the weather has no clue wich direction to go.
Snow comes off the roof, ice build up in the evening and night and if really bad you end up with a few hundred kg of frozen snow on your roof waiting to hit you when you close the door on your way out.
As for your steps: Wood is almost deadly in the winter conditions as ice builds up quickly and in some case stays loose on the wood.
Either way, stepping on it can mean a sudden test of gravity followed by the painful confirmation that no fall lasts forever.
IMHO the best options is to use galvanised steel for the steps.
You know, these grated panels often used in the industry where little "spikes" or triangles poke out the top slightly.
Ice on these breaks once you step on it and you will get a firm grip if wearing proper footwear.
For the summer just cover them with wooden boards cut to lenght that have a few screws or similar poking through the metal grates to keep it all in place.


Reply 10 months ago

Thank you for the tips about the PVC and the galvanised steel steps! I think I'd definitely like to try a gutter first to redirect the flow. I have rock beds on either side of the porch so it'd be safe to have ice there.

Snow catchers are also something I'm looking into now. Might be good for a couple areas!

The worst part about that wooden porch: they built it with nails D: It'll be nice to upgrade it with a proper frame, hardware and steps. Those steel steps will also be great for mud season.


Reply 10 months ago

To be honest: I first hated the idea of steel steps.
It simply does not mix with cold winters.
But when I noticed how great these grated things are in other places I could not resist to try it myself.
Does not rot, does not get moss and despite being covered with ice they don't get slippery.

As for the snow catchers:
If you want a slightly better look after the winter consider using simple hinges and hook.
Fold them up and use the hook before winter and once all is over fold them flat on the roof ;)


10 months ago

I don't know of any way to melt ice on wooden steps or porch. I think the only thing you could do is divert the water away from the porch. If you added a small roof over the door with a pitch that matches the other two roof areas it would direct the water to the sides. It won't be cheap, unless you can do it yourself or know someone with those skills, probably two or three thousand dollars but it would increase the value of your home if you ever decide to sell it. It's not a very difficult job for a carpenter but they do charge a lot per hour.


Reply 10 months ago

Yeah, I think I'm going to try some kind of PVC gutter thing thanks to the suggestions here! It would be really great to have an additional bit of roofing built, too. If gutters don't work out I'll probably need to start talking to some builders up here. :)


10 months ago

If the purpose is anti skid, gravel is a possibility, perhaps break it up if it builds up.
Heating would be expensive. How expensive can be calculated by knowing minimum temperatures, amount of snow (water) per hour or day, for starters, it takes 1 calorie to heat up 1 gram of water 1°C.
Calories can be converted into Watt needed and luckily, a heating element is 100% efficient, but I think it would be prohibitively expensive.
Best solution would be to keep the snow from landing on porch/stairs of course, but that would take some sort of roof over the entire area, possibly with sides as well - like you would make a carport - would take some thought to not uglify your house. Could be made like a pergola for flowers during summer, with some roofing plates to put up during winter.
In case you would build something, anything at all, better ride out this winter and make it a summer project.
.Had the house and porch been stone a weed burner might help, but very risky with wood.
Nice house, looks spaceous (said the guy in a one room flat)
Hope you find a dog friendly solution :)


Reply 10 months ago

Ah, thanks for the explanation regarding heating! I really was not sure if that was feasible, but it's nice to know I can count that out. :P

Gravel is definitely a decent solution until next year! I tried sand briefly but only ended up with more of a mess, haha

I think you're right that we'll have to figure out some sort of permanent build to fix it! At least we've got a bit to plan. :)


10 months ago

P.S. Yes. I know those nests are hideous. That's the next thing to fix: pressure wash those off and put up some stuff the birds will hate when they're not migrating :)