11/1/2012 9:59:00 PM Ask the contractor: Hard facts about concrete drive solutions for winter
Q: I just moved to Prescott from Nevada and have had conversations with many of my neighbors about winter and deicing of concrete driveways and sidewalks. I have been told it is OK to use rock salt, I have been told to use sand, I have been told to do nothing. As our local contractor organization and representatives, what do you folks recommend? Wally and Beth, Prescott
A: We all think of concrete as being strong and durable but with winter on the way and more often than not because of homeowner wrong doings, problems occur with our driveways and sidewalks and we find that concrete is not indestructible. Concrete and winter do not go hand in hand and as homeowners we need to take precautions. Brian Peterson of Diversified Concrete Crafters gave us some pointers on what homeowners should and should not do to their concrete during our winter months.
The first "should not" is the use of rock salt as a de-icing agent. If at all possible snow should be removed from concrete surfaces as soon as possible to prohibit the freeze/thaw cycle from occurring. Concrete is very porous and when rock salt is distributed over concrete to melt the ice, the "salt water" soaks into the concrete and with the recurring freezing, the rock salt water attacks the concrete chemically and surface damage can and will occur. We have many driveways and sidewalks in our area where surface damage has occurred, primarily scaling and spelling. Rock salt is an enemy of concrete.
A "should" would be to remove the snow and ice as soon as possible. As a concrete expert, Brian with a smile said the best de-icing agent any homeowner can use is a shovel. The freeze/thaw cycle of snow on concrete causes damage and deterioration over time. Do not pile the snow in a shady area - it should be removed as soon as possible and be allowed to melt and not saturate into the concrete. Now we know this is not possible for many of our homeowners so the next best de-icing alternative is sand. Although sand is not considered a de-icing agent, it gives our driveways and sidewalks traction and reduces the slipperiness and can make removal easier and again, the snow and ice should be removed as quickly as possible.
Be wary of using de-icing agents that have compounds such as sodium chloride and calcium chloride. One of the best de-icing agents to use besides the shovel would be calcium magnesium acetate.
If you insist on using any de-icing agent, it is important to check product labels to ensure that they are non-toxic to pets, plants, and will not harm or cause corrosion to any metal.
After winter it would be advantageous to consider sealing your concrete with a penetrating sealer, which would act as a protective coating and add to the longevity of your concrete. There are many sealers on the market and Brian is an advocate of sealing concrete. "Sealing concrete will extend the life of the concrete and be a major deterrent for winter spelling and scaling."
Q: While driving down Sheldon Street a vehicle passed me that said Arrowseal. What type of company is this and are they local? Bernie, Prescott
A: Arrowseal is a locally owned company that performs duct sealing through a new technology that tackles duct leaks from the inside out of the duct system. If you live in a home that is 5 years or older, if you are experiencing high energy bills, a constantly running HVAC system and/or your home has excessive dust then you might possibly want to look at this duct sealing process. Older homes and manufactured homes typically leak 30-40 percent or more of air through the duct system and after going through the Arrowseal process, the leaking is reduced to 10 percent or less. Exact savings are difficult to precisely estimate since the savings depend of a multitude of variables such as the condition of the home, the design, the heating system, usage, and other factors. I talked with Steve Voevodsky, partner with Arrowseal and Steve said "this process is one of the most effective ways of lowering the energy use in a home."
A pre-test is performed on the duct system prior to sealing, indicating the amount of leakage being generated. A post-test analysis is performed after the ducts have been sealed providing verification. Prior to sealing the duct system, Arrowseal will determine if the duct work needs to be cleaned and if this is the case including the sealing process the company will be in your home several hours. If cleaning is not necessary, the process takes approximately 1-2 hours. The sealing material is non-toxic, there is no lingering odor, there are rebates available from APS and Unisource, and the sealing process has a 10-year warranty. This innovative process takes little time to bring you big savings and comfort and Mr. Voevodsky said there is no typical size of home that would benefit the most from the Arrowseal process.