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Published: Wednesday, 1/13/2010

How to remove ice without harming concrete

If you have invested in a decorative poured sidewalk or driveway, you probably cringe when you have to scrape it off with a shovel or a snowplow. All of that pricey work could be scarred by heavy equipment.

Mark Baumgartner of Conceptual Concrete and Engraving in Woodville says if it was sealed right, your sidewalk will wear like nails. Mr. Baumgartner and his partner, Steve Young, have been pouring beautiful patios and sidewalks around Toledo and Perrysburg for more than 13 years.

"The most important thing that will protect your concrete in the winter is to have an experienced professional pour it and seal it properly for you. Once it is sealed, it will be able to withstand anything you toss on it," he says.

Environmentally friendly deicers and sand are some of the less corrosive materials he recommends. Ohio State University studies found chemicals that will melt your ice, and some that might not be as damaging to your lawn.

Potassium is another good chemical to sprinkle on a sidewalk. Gardeners also call it potash. It helps your flowers and fruit grow strong and it will help you keep the sidewalk safe down to 20 degrees. However, this is one of those chemicals that is good for your grass, but might damage your concrete over time.

Urea is a fertilizer that any farmer or hard-core gardener knows well. Pellets made from this fertilizer will melt ice quickly, down to 20 degrees. That's great news if the weather isn't too bitter. But the agricultural grade is corrosive.

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride will melt ice faster than regular salt down to about 15 degrees, but OSU says it also may make surfaces slippery if temperatures fall below zero. It only melts ice down to 15 degrees. It works better when tossed on a dry sidewalk to prevent ice from collecting, rather than melting ice.

Ammonium sulfate is a fertilizer that will melt ice down to 20 degrees. Potassium chloride will do the same thing, but both chemicals may put pits in your concrete if you use too much or it sits on there too long.

Now that we will have a sunny, relatively warm week ahead, Mr. Baumgartner recommends getting ice and snow off the concrete. "Use a plastic shovel rather than a metal one to prevent gouging. Heat elements can also be installed into new concrete for extremely icy areas."

Mr. Baumgartner says the sealer will be your best defense. "Keep your sidewalk sealed every other year with a two-step solvent-based sealer." He recommends CSS Elite Crete Solvent found at Chase E. Phipps in Perrysburg, or one of the Kuhlman locations around Toledo.

He says, "We have customers with sidewalks we poured over 10 years ago that haven't always used the environmentally friendly salts and they still look great."

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at:

kheidbreder@theblade.com



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