Snow Removal
January 27, 2008 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Can I use my hose (regular water hose) to significantly melt the pile of snow and some ice in my driveway?

The temp has been above 32 degrees for over 24 hours - most of the snow in town has turned slushy and/or melted away. But I have a wind-driven pile of snow in my driveweay - over 2 feet in a few spots. I've shoveled a lot of it away, but it's taking forever and gets more difficult as I get deeper. So now I'm looking for a quick way to get rid of it completely before the next winter blast arrives tonight (down to -20 with more snow).

So: can I just turn on my hose and spray the snow away? Or will that be much, much worse and/or ineffective?
posted by davidmsc to Science & Nature (21 answers total)
Well you certainly don't want puddles of water everywhere when it goes down to -20 tonight...
posted by milestogo at 1:40 PM on January 27, 2008

You can, but your floor will be very slippery tomorrow.
posted by Memo at 1:45 PM on January 27, 2008

No, you'll just waste water and end up with ice, unless you're able to wash all the snow off and dry it before tonight (snow is colder than 32ºF). Grab yourself a shovel and get to work! 15min of intense snow shoveling can clear a decent section.

A snowblower would work the fastest if your snow is not frozen-over (perhaps a leafblower can sub in). I think Strobels rents them. Out at my house, the snow drifts are too solid and large for anything to remove, so shoveling is the only unfortunate option.
posted by fleeba at 1:46 PM on January 27, 2008

Yep. We used to make a killing plowing driveways in the morning. Had ass work though. Get the right shovel. Trial and error on this one. No plastic, unless it is very hard plastic. Stay away from wood handles as well. I know one of these mefites has a secret weapon. If this is only a problem a few days out of the year, a snow plow is probably not worth it, but if you find yourself digging out every morning before work, it could be priceless.

If it was me though, I would get this GPS quided, snow eating, ice-block shitting robot (Available in the next 5 years for about $8,300). Major neighborhood cool points!
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 2:23 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Muster up some intestinal fortitude and shovel some of that snow. Snow melts faster when on asphalt than when on snow, so toss it on the street or your drive way.
posted by furtive at 2:34 PM on January 27, 2008

if you do it, make sure to take care of the puddles- generously sprinkle them with sand, gravel, or cat litter and maybe a little salt (go easy on the salt, thought, it's awful for the environment and your car. mix it at least half-and-half with something non-evil, hence the sand, gravel, cat litter).
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:34 PM on January 27, 2008

Shovel what you can. Don't worry about the last quarter inch of snow that the shovel can't get. If there's ice, use the salt on that. Get the big rock salt.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:39 PM on January 27, 2008

You might get 5 gallons per minute from the hose. Normal water temp is in the 45 degree range. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so if your driveway snow is really 32 degrees (probably not a valid assumption), every minute you'll put 5 x 8 x (43-32) BTUs on the driveay. That's about 500 BTUs/minute or 30,000 BTU's/hr.

That's not a particularly huge amount of energy.

The mass of snow/ice on the driveway is large. Calculate the area of ice and it's thickness, and get a real temperature. From this, calculate the BTU load to bring the ice to 32 degrees.

That's how this sort of thing is calculated. Gotta run or I'd do the calcs for you.

I'd use a shovel!
posted by FauxScot at 2:52 PM on January 27, 2008

Shovel most of it, then get yourself one of these mothers right here.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:07 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

We tried using a pressure washer when it was 10 deg C on a pile of snow that was about 18 inches to 2 foot high and covered a 10ft by 4 foot area. This was an industrial pressure washer. It had been 5 degrees or more over freeing for 3 days.

We gave up and shovelled it after getting nowhere for an hour other than blasting holes into it.

Although, if you do do this, you can use a broom to sweep away any standing water to make sure there us little chance of ice forming in any sort of quantity. This will reduce the amount of 'stuff' you have to put on it. Consider, for your stuff, using branches and sticks as well. Surprisingly effective when it freezes, as you get 'crinkly' ice which is less inclined to tip you on your arse.
posted by Brockles at 3:14 PM on January 27, 2008

Snow melts faster when on asphalt than when on snow, so toss it on the street or your drive way.

I don't know where the poster lives, but in my neck of the woods (Minnesota), shoveling snow onto the street is illegal.
posted by hootch at 3:21 PM on January 27, 2008

hootch- Not just illegal, but dangerous, disrespectful and will leave you liable to having crazy neighbors like me yelling at you for same. That's like one of my top five pet peeves. (In case you were wondering...)

Is it actually blocking the driveway, or are you just trying to clean up a drift? If it's blocking, yeah, just work at it or hire someone to do it. A snow shovel with a sturdy plastic "bucket" with sides on it and a metal edge is the best option. You aren't wasting energy lifting 20 lbs of shovel.

If you're just looking to get a pile of snow to melt faster, I've found that chopping it up and spreading it out lets the sun and heat get in.
posted by gjc at 3:52 PM on January 27, 2008

I'm also with the shovel crew.

and GJC - it may not be illegal depending on where you live. In my city, it's ok to shovel snow into the street if "said snow or ice is broken up and spread evenly, to a thickness of no more than three inches, during daylight hours, when the mean temperature for that day is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit." Which may not happen for Hootch in MN, but often does here.
posted by FreezBoy at 4:14 PM on January 27, 2008

What you are thinking about doing would be a spectacularly bad idea unless the temperature dramatically rises. Let's turn some snow into a deep, multi-inch thick, slab of ice on the driveway that even pounds of salt can't melt away. If you do it, please blog the results with pictures of triumph or woe.
posted by caddis at 6:47 PM on January 27, 2008

This is going to be a lot like moving the snow by poking it with a pointy stick.
posted by fshgrl at 8:01 PM on January 27, 2008

Response by poster: Whoa -- glad I asked for some advice before I tried it! Thanks, all, for saving me hassle, potential embarrassment, and costly plumbing bills!
posted by davidmsc at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2008

I saw some guy on the YouTube modified his snowshovel with a bit of wire and a handle. He attached two wires to either side of the shovel, and on the other end was a simple handle. So left hand holds the end of the shovel, the right hand the new handle, and it makes it a hundred times easier. Hard to describe, really, because it's so simple.
posted by zardoz at 11:28 PM on January 27, 2008

There are a few attachment devices you can buy, but you won't really improve on a shovel with an ergonomic (S-shaped) handle. If it's wet, the main thing you need to do is spread your legs a bit and do as much lifting with your knees as you can.

If you have this problem, and this much snow to deal with, regularly -- get yourself a snow thrower. If you have a drifting problem in the same spot every year, plant a windbreak like a small yew or two.
posted by dhartung at 12:34 AM on January 28, 2008

I'm late to the party, (and David knows just how much ...) Dave, you should have just kicked me an email. Don't use the hose. You're better off using a 5 gallon bucket, filled with hot water from the shower or the tub. I've done it many times.

a) It does not lead to the glacier predicted by many here. Most of the water runs off, but the heat remains.

b) It doesn't take nearly the amount of water as your hose would, and will likely not affect your bill that much.

c) Don't fret the environmental impact. We're at the top of the water chain, Dude.

d) Too late! Hope you stay warm, my man.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2008

Wulfar! - Good to see you still drop by now and then. I miss you.
posted by caddis at 4:28 PM on January 28, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, Wulfgar - you're right, I should have turned to my Big Sky buddies in addition to the usual suspects here :-)
posted by davidmsc at 5:51 AM on January 29, 2008

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