You probably know that it’s important to shovel snow from sidewalks and driveways, but you might be unaware that shoveling snow from your apartment’s balcony can also be helpful. In fact, depending on your lease and what type of balcony you have, you might need to remove snow from it to prevent balcony damage. Below, find out whether you should remove snow from your balcony and how to safely do so.
Check your lease first
First, check your lease or ask your landlord whether it’s your responsibility to remove snow from your apartment’s balcony. If your lease advises against shoveling snow off your balcony, then doing so isn’t necessary. However, if doing so is your responsibility, you should get started sooner than later.
Know how snow can damage balconies
During the winter months, it’s normal to neglect your apartment’s balcony due to the cold outdoor temperatures. Unfortunately, snow can weigh down your balcony and thus damage its integrity. Additionally, snow-covered cantilevered balconies (balconies supported on one end but not the other) and wooden balconies can be susceptible to material decay. However, wooden balconies are sometimes constructed with treated lumber that’s more water-resistant than untreated wood, and balconies made of composite or plastic are resistant to water damage.
Know how snow cleanup can also damage balconies
Although you may want to prevent your apartment’s balcony from damage, regular shoveling can cause wear and tear. For example, if you have a wooden balcony, you’ll need to carefully shovel snow to avoid your shovel leaving gouges or scapes in the wood. Careful shoveling also limits the chances that your landlord charges you for damage to your balcony.
How to shovel snow safely
Just as you should be slow and careful to avoid balcony damage, you should take care of yourself while shoveling too. Since the easiest type of snow to remove is fresh, powdery snow, shovel sooner than later. To prevent exhaustion, don’t lift a full shovel over your shoulder—only partially fill your shovel. To avoid pulled muscles and overexertion, don’t lift with your back—instead, push the snow while bending your knees. It’s also important to make sure no one is below your balcony as you push snow off it.
How to safely prevent damage to your balcony
As you remove snow from your apartment’s balcony, use a non-metal shovel or broom to avoid damage, and remove snow in motions parallel to your deck boards. Don’t use ice chippers, even plastic ones, as they too can damage your balcony. As damage-free deicers go, pet-safe ice melters are best.
If you have a lot of snow on your balcony, another careful removal method is shoveling snow into a five-gallon bucket. Then, you can dump this snow into your bathtub and melt it with hot water. Although this process is more arduous than pushing snow off your balcony, it’s the safest option for preventing bystanders from getting hit by falling ice and snow. Additionally, with this method, you won’t have to go down to street level to shovel the snow you’ve dropped from your balcony. Make sure not to rush—sure, clearing snow from your balcony can get tedious, but safely shoveling your balcony and preventing damage is well worth the time.