If you want to get your parking lot ready for the winter, there are a few good steps you can take, but they also depend on if you hire a contractor before it snows, or if you hire a snow removal contractor last minute, while there is already snow on the ground, or on otherwise short notice when there is limited time to survey and prepare the parking lot.
When you hire a snow removal contractor in advance, they should typically go over your lot for any areas that could be damaged accidentally or cause damage to any equipment, and the contractor should notate or mark those areas off. These areas can be typically marked off using mapping software and/or reflective snow stakes. The mapping can be used when there is a need for collaboration between many team members and you, the customer. But typically, and most commonly snow stakes are the simplest and most effective tool to use. When using snow stakes, your contractor will typically go around and mark the curbs, posts, flower beds, or any other area of the lot or near the lot that could be easily plowed over when everything is covered by snow and not visible. The snow stakes commonly used are a few feet in length, usually bright orange and have reflective material on them to make them easy to see when there is snow fall.
If you were not able to get an agreement with a snow removal contractor in advance, then it might be a good idea to complete some of the steps below to help assure that your snow removal process goes smoothly this winter, especially if you’re hiring someone last minute.
1. Patch Potholes and Fill in and Seal Cracks
It’s a good idea to patch any potholes you have in your parking lot and seal any cracks that are there. Large amounts of water seeping into those areas and pooling reduces the life of the asphalt or concrete and increases the chances for potholes or cracks, especially when there are temperatures that go above and below freezing on a frequent basis.
2. Mark Sensitive Areas – Curbs, Flower beds, etc.
Order some reflective snow stakes and go through your parking lot and mark off any areas that you don’t want snow plowed onto, areas that you don’t want a plow, tires or any other equipment to make contact with. You should make sure to use snow stakes high enough to substantially stick out above the height of the snow you’re expecting so they’re clearly visible when there is snow on the ground.
3. Properly Mark Fire Hydrants and/or Hook-Ups
Mark off any fire-hydrant or water hookups with the proper markings that are required by the laws in your area, make sure they can stay visible when it is snowing.
4. Optional: Pre-Treat your Parking Lot with Salt or Calcium Chloride
Optional: If your contractor isn’t salting and you want to do it yourself, it’s a good idea to lay a coating of salt or calcium chloride (deicing agent) not only after the storm but also before the storm. This will help reduce the bond of the snow/ice to the parking lot and make the snow removal work come out with a result that’s a lot cleaner.
5. Have a Plan That Takes Your Operating Hours Into Consideration
If you’re a business that has customers and employees that need to be there in person, it would be a great idea to coordinate with your snow removal contractor so that you can make sure that parking lots and walkways are clear during operating hours. You don’t want your lot cleared at midnight while it’s still snowing, only to have it needing to be re-cleared in the morning before you open.
6. Keep Deicing Agents and a Shovel on hand
If you’re only able to get the parking lot and walkways cleared one time, you could use that time to get the bulk of it. But, you should keep some deicing agents on hand along with a shovel to keep the high traffic areas clear. Its also good to have on hand for when the snow and ice melts into water, then refreezes over night. If you’re unable to get a contractor back out, it’s definitely a good idea to keep a shovel and some deicing agent on hand, especially since they can be scarce at the stores during a large storm.
7. Empty Your Parking Lot Before Snowfall – if Possible
Lastly, having a lot full of cars can make it very hard or even increase the price of snow removal due to how much harder it becomes to have to move snow around parked cars. If you have a parking lot where you’re able to temporarily move vehicles and other objects from the parking lot before the storm that would hep ensure a neatly cleaned parking lot.
A lot of times it’s also possible to work with the contractor if space is limited. You can move vehicles to another side of the parking lot while the opposite end is being plowed, and repeat this process.
These are just some tips that could help you be more efficient and get a better results, in the event that you don’t retain a contractor in time and you have to partially do some of the work yourself.