So far it has been a rather mild winter in the Pittsburgh area, but we got about an inch of snow yesterday, and they are calling for a little more today. Not enough to worry about driving in or anything, but I do have a problem clearing the snow from the steps outside my apartment.
My wife and I are living in a guest house behind my parent's house - the only way to get in is to go up a set of steps with the building on one side, and a brick banister on the other (this picture was taken from the top of the steps
). Clearing the snow if we were to start at the bottom, its relatively easy to shovel; take a scoop, back down any cleared steps, and throw it away from the building. However, since we are living there, we are at the top of the steps and if we receive any snow during the night, the only thing we can really do is wedge the shovel in at the back of the step and push it forward down one step, and then repeat. (or, if its only a dusting of snow, take a broom and sweep the snow to the sides of the step and just walk down the clear middle section.)
Currently I have a broom, a pusher-style snow shovel and an ergonomic style shovel. The broom works well for light snows, the pusher works ok working from the top of the steps down, and the ergonomic shovel is rather awkward using from the top down but works well on the landing at the top of the steps and for moving the big pile I create by pushing everything down the steps.
What I'm trying to ask is what suggestions anyone may have to making this easier.
My options are slightly limited though; since it is not my property, and we're getting free rent, I sort of have to abide by my father's rules - which is no salt or ice melt. (This limitation sucks, but free rent certainly means I can work around it.)
I'm considering one of the small electric power shovels (Toro/Greenworks/SnowJoe) as it would be relatively easy to carry and place on the step below me and throw the snow either straight ahead down (and probably past the bottom of the steps) or to the side (in which some of the snow would clear the banisters, and some would collect on the brick when the angle is too steep). But I've never used one so I don't know how unweildy they are, nor have I really seen any good review on how they do on steps; how close the actual blade can get to the corner of the step because of the arc and/or because of the body of the machine behind the spinning blade.
I am also considering some sort of heated tread being placed on top of each step (HeatTrak seems to be almost the only game in town for this), but they are rather expensive both initially for install and with power for the durations needed to melt the snow.
And finally, I am considering making/modifing a shovel so that pushing the snow down the stairs is from an easier angle, basically angle the blade of a shovel to look like a big version of a gooseneck garden hoe so wedging it into the corner of the step is easy, and then just pushing away from my body, instead of having to fumble with the corner of the step and using the current shovel like a lever.
While those are the only ideas I've really come up with, I'm not against some out-of-the-box thinking - tarping the steps when we're in for the night and they're calling for snow (but, how to hold down a tarp, how to keep it from freezing to the steps, how to lift the tarp and get the snow to slide off it only at the bottom, not on either side), or anything else that may work.