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Tip #178:  Skating on Thin Ice?

blizzardA hazard lurks just outside the front door of your rental property.

Tenants who are responsible for snow removal have a tendency to take the easy way out — by applying ice-melt chemicals that do the hard work.

Trouble is, using these chemicals may damage concrete or asphalt, and that will cost the landlord.

It’s not that the chemicals themselves are harmful, but de-icers place in motion a process of increased freeze-thaw cycles, and that can wreck the concrete or asphalt because these surfaces draw in water once the snow or ice melts. As temps drop, the water freezes and places stress on the structures.  Rock salt works the same way. In fact, salt actually attracts water and may be one of the worst offenders.

Once the chemicals in de-icers are tracked indoors, they can cause damage to interior floors.

One tip experts recommend is to skip the de-icers altogether and use sand.  This adds traction without the risks of chemical de-icers or salt.  Tenants must be careful, though — sand tracked indoors can scratch the flooring.

The problem is common enough that it may be worthwhile having a conversation with your tenants prior to the first freeze, to agree on the proper way to remove ice on landings, sidewalks and driveways.

Keep in mind that providing traction on icy surfaces is the top priority.  A slip and fall lawsuit will cost far more than some new concrete.

See last weeks Landlord Quick Tip.

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  • polycarp

    The de-icers *are* harmful themselves. The salt will cause damage to any plantings that are exposed to the runoff. It is effectively saltwater and is a poison to terrestrial plants. But they also cause damage to the property itself. The de-icers dissolve in the melted snow. That saltwater soaks into brick and concrete and other materials. Once there, the water eventually evaporates and the salts re-crystallize. The forming of the crystals slowly breaks apart the material.

    I have been introducing a “no de-icers” clause in the maintenance responsibilities section of my leases. I have to replace a set of concrete steps this year, due in large part to the previous owner’s use of de-icers instead of a shovel – and would rather not be doing that again any time soon.

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