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Archive for the ‘Prepare for Winter’ Category

Beaulieu IndustriesWe’ve all been there. We’re running late for work, school or picking up the kids from daycare and there’s a plow truck in front of us crawling at a snails pace. We sigh, slam our hands on the steering wheel and glance at the time all while saying come on, come on. Should you blow the horn? Make a pass?

No, unless it’s a two lane road and there is plenty of room to safely make a go around. Chances are if you’re out braving the storm with the public works department, the roads are slick and narrow as it is.

The best advice is to slow down and be patient. If you are attempting a pass on a two lane road, make sure you can see who’s coming at you and behind. The last thing you want is to cause a crash or end up in the ditch – then you’ll really be late to wherever it is you’re going.

Safety Tips for Following Snow Vehicles

  • Remember, if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you
  • Drivers have a limited view in their trucks, so they may not see you
  • Snow plows can extend up to several feet beyond the truck
  • Leave room for plow trucks no matter which lanes they are traveling in
  • Chances are, the plow will cross over the center line or lane divider
  • Watch out for snow flying up and around the plow truck, it will reduce visibility
  • NEVER pass on a hill, curve, bridge or ramp
  • Not all snow vehicles are city vehicles (many cities use local contractors for snow work)

Please remember that plow trucks and city sanders are out working hard to keep our roads, schools and city parking lots clean and clear, and most importantly, safe for us to use. After all, we at Beaulieu Industries should know, we’ve been plowing for the city of Lewiston for over 30 years and we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to winter and road safety in Maine.

Report an Issue (Lewiston, ME Only)

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Choosing the best diecer for your home or business comes down to availability, budget and preferences. Most deicers are pretty easy to find at local hardware stores and lawn and garden centers. Heck, most grocery stores have them in stock during the cold season too.

When it comes to price, some deicers, like those that are organic, are a bit pricier than others and a little harder to find than let’s say sand. Preference boils down to whether or not you want something that’s environmentally friendly or something that you can hear melting the ice as soon as you scatter it on the walk.

Help Choosing a Deicer

Deicers: Choose the Best Deicer for Your Home or Business

Use this helpful guide to learn about different types of deciers and which one’s work best for your home or business.

Natural Alternatives to Using Salt to Deice Sidewalks and Steps

Concerned about the environment and looking for a natural deicer? There are several options available, some easier to find than others depending on the area in which you live.

Does Sand Make a Good De-Icer?

Sand is inexpensive, readily available and a natural deicer. It does require some sweeping up once the snow is gone, but it gets the job done.

Using Cat Litter as a Deicer

Did you know that cat litter can be used as a deicer? When it comes to litter and providing traction, some types of cat litter work better than others.

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Can You Use Cat Litter as a Deicer?Can cat litter be used as an alternative to man made deicers? The answer is yes. Many people use cat litter to deice their walks for 2 reasons, 1 – they’ve run out of their regular deicer and cat litter will do in a pinch, and 2, using a natural cat litter is eco-friendly.

Cat litter, whether all natural or not, makes an efficient deicer. Would I compare it to man made deicers that melt snow and ice? Well no, but it does work. Cat litter provides traction on ice and slippery snow. It also absorbs moisture preventing a wet surface from freezing and creating an icy mess.

If using an eco-friendly deicer is important to you, I’d recommend using an all natural brand of cat litter should you choose to go this route. Natural cat litters are made from recycled materials and don’t contain any harsh chemicals such as chloride.

Chloride, a popular ingredient in many man made deicers, can corrode concrete and asphalt over time, harm plants growing near where deicers are used and find its way into the crevices of our pets feet irritating their skin.

Since natural cat litter mostly contains baking soda to control odor, they are generally safe for pets, walks and plants. Many companies use a combination of recycled materials such as paper and corn fibers to keep their cat litter eco-friendly and therefore, safe to use on your walk.

Natural cat litters are relatively easy to find at grocery and big box stores and are less expensive than organic deicers. While I prefer to go the eco-friendly route myself, my first choice is sand, but I would use cat litter in a pinch.

If you decide to try using cat litter the next time you’re in need of an eco-friendly deicer, make sure the brand you choose is labeled as natural, check the ingredients and opt for a kind that clumps. Don’t over do it when applying the cat litter which, if made from natural products, should decompose over time.

Related Articles

Does Sand Make a Good Deicer?
Deicers: Choose the Best Deicer for Your Home or Business

 Image: CambridgeBayWeather/Wikimedia Commons

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Sand as a De-Icer?Sand is a good resource to prevent slipping and provide traction on ice. While sand differs slightly from chemical de-icers, it is safe and good to use on ice.

Why Sand Works Good on Ice

Sand provides that extra traction we need on ice and other slippery surfaces. It allows us to walk confidently and provides our vehicles with traction on an otherwise slippery road. Sand is also readily available, contains no chemicals that harm the environment and is cost-effective.

How Sand Differs from Chemical De-Icers

Since sand is a natural resource, it contains no harsh chemicals which can seep into the earth like manmade de-icers. Due to the lack of chemicals, sand does not heat up and melt the ice underneath it like the aforementioned de-icers do. It simply provides a coating of traction.

Benefits of Using Sand on Ice

  • Cost Effective
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Readily Available
  • Easily Spreads by Hand or with a Sander

Drawbacks of Using Sand on Ice

  • Does not Melt Ice
  • Needs to be Cleaned up in Spring

Related Articles

Deicers: Choose the Best Deicer for Your Home or Business
3 Things to Help Your Vehicle Out of An “Icy” Jam

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Gain Traction on IceIce happens – especially if you live in the North. If you don’t have 4 wheel drive or even if you do and find yourself stuck on some ice, there are 3 household supplies that can help you get “unstuck.” I’m talking about backing out of an icy parking spot or driveway – not plowing your way through a Nor’ Easter or ice storm.

Supplies Needed to Gain Traction on Ice

  1. Shovel
  2. Cat Litter
  3. Sturdy Pieces of Cardboard

The shovel, well that’s a pretty obvious choice, but what about the cat litter and cardboard? Both provide that bit of traction your tires need to back out of an icy spot. Here’s what to try the next time you find your vehicle stuck on ice.

1. Remove excess snow buildup from in front of or behind the tires that may be preventing you from going forward or in reverse. Sometimes, when we spin our tires in an effort to make it off the ice, we dig our vehicles down into the snow where it’s too deep for us to get out.

2. Next, apply a thick layer of cat litter in front of or behind each tire, depending in which direction you’ll be accelerating. If you have pieces of sturdy cardboard handy, you can use those instead.

3. Slowly accelerate to prevent spinning of the tires and the cat litter from being sprayed in all directions or cardboard being torn to shreds. If need be, slowly rock the vehicle back and forth by slightly accelerating then allowing the vehicle to roll back a bit and repeating until you’ve made it out of any divots and off the ice.

Image: Paul Anderson/Wikimedia Commons

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If your going to pay someone to perform an energy audit on your home, it’s best to go with a certified energy auditor. Certified auditors are up to date on the best practices for auditing a home and have the means and know how to perform tests including the blower test and thermograph scan, all of which are needed for a thorough and complete audit.

How to Find a Certified Energy Auditor Near You

Energy.gov recommends several reliable ways to find a certified energy auditor near you. Before hiring an auditor, ask for references and make sure they perform the above mentioned tests.

* I did a search for my zip code using the directory. No auditors in my state (Maine) appeared on the list. The closest auditor was in Vermont. However, I went on the Efficiency Maine website and was able to find several certified auditors within 25 miles of my town. (In a nutshell, Efficiency Maine is an independent trust that helps Maine residents use less energy and save money.)

What is a Home Energy Audit?

 

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During a home energy audit, a certified energy auditor comes into the home and performs a number of tests looking for areas where energy (I.e. heat) is leaking. A blower test is often performed, insulation, duct work and the furnace are all checked to see how much, if any, energy is being wasted.

What is a Home Energy Audit?Home energy audits are thorough. Each room in the home is inspected and past utility bills are examined by the auditor. The outside of the home is also inspected. During this time the auditor looks for the number of windows as well as other features and determines how large the home is.

The auditor also looks through information provided by the homeowner about areas of the home where energy issues have been noticed. Typically, this information includes drafty rooms and windows as well as areas of the home where condensation often forms.

Once all the tests have been performed and the information gathered and scrutinized, the energy auditor forms a plan for the homeowner on how to solve energy issues in the home. The auditor also provides ways to reduce how much energy is consumed by the home and those who live in it.

Information on the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

Find a Certified Home Energy Auditor Near You

Related Home Winterization Articles

Weather Stripping: A Homeowner’s Guide
Prepare for Winter: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Troubleshooting: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Home Improvement Project Ideas
Simple Ways to Stop Drafts in the Home

Image: Asamouse/CC-BY-SA-3.0

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