How to Hire the Best Snow Removal Service After Searching ‘Snow Removal Near Me’
Snow piling up on the driveway can mean hours of shoveling, but hiring a snow removal service can help homeowners prevent injury and time lost.
When the weather turns chilly and heavy snow blankets a home’s driveway, shoveling snow becomes a routine task. Although homeowners can complete this backbreaking work themselves, there’s a risk of injury when doing so. To avoid injury or to accommodate a busy schedule, homeowners may want to consider hiring a snow removal service to do the labor. These professional services use proper snow-plowing techniques and equipment to clear driveways safely and efficiently. The best snow removal services use specialized tools, including a Bobcat skid-steer loader, a snow blower, or a traditional plow. Snow removal services can be used for both residential and commercial properties to clear driveways, walkways, sidewalks, and paths that are covered with snow.
Homeowners seeking help with commercial or residential snow removal may wonder how to find qualified professionals and what to look for after searching “snow removal near me.” This guide will cover information about hiring a local service for snow removal, including expected cost, scope of work, and key questions for homeowners to ask.
The Cost to Hire a Snow Removal Service
For a DIY approach, homeowners can invest in a shovel or a snow blower. Shovels can cost anywhere between $15 and $60. Some of the best snow blowers can be purchased for a cost that’s usually between $100 and $2,300, or they can be rented for around $75 per day, according to HomeAdvisor. Prices for either residential or commercial snow removal vary depending on the vehicle the plowing equipment is mounted on, with options including a truck, a UTV, or an ATV. The cost of mounting a plow to one of these vehicles ranges between $400 and $4,000.
Instead of a DIY shoveling approach, many homeowners opt to hire a snow removal service. Snow removal companies set prices for residential jobs based on driveway size, or they may offer fixed monthly rates which range between $100 and $300. Instead of a monthly rate, some services charge a flat amount per visit, often around $30 to $70. Commercial property owners can also call a snow removal specialist to clear paths and parking lots when it snows. Those jobs cost between $50 and $150 per hour on average, with the price often based on the size of the area and the number of obstacles the contractor will need to work around. It may be helpful for homeowners to use a snow removal pricing calculator to anticipate the rough cost of the service.
Common Snow Removal Services
Snow removal services or tools can clear homeowners’ and business owners’ properties of snow and ice buildup. As cars would be unable to leave driveways and vehicles would be unable to properly access a home, snow covering the driveway can be a hazard, particularly in the event of an emergency. Depending on the size of a job and the tools necessary, customers may want to consider hiring a service for snow removal to more efficiently clear snow. Some common snow removal services are listed below.
Plow attachments for a car can cost between $400 and $4,000 and take time to install, so many homeowners opt to hire a professional service instead. Sidewalk plowing can cost anywhere from $25 to $75 per hour. Snow-plowing services have the expertise and snow removal tools to clear driveways and more.
Many homeowners find shoveling to be a task they can do themselves—and may even know a few tips and tricks for dealing with snow and ice to make the job easier. The best snow shovels cost only $15 to $60, and the labor is free for those who choose the DIY route. However, there are many reasons to hire a service for this chore instead; doing so usually costs about $25 to $75 per hour. Shoveling snow can be unexpectedly detrimental to a homeowner’s health. Every year, homeowners suffer injuries such as strains, slipped discs, or heart attacks while shoveling. Those who are at risk for these injuries, have a very large property to shovel, or simply don’t have time may find it well worth the cost to hire for this job.
To push aside a smaller volume of snow, snow removal services may opt to use a snow blower or thrower. This service costs about $25 to $75 per hour and tends to be quicker than shoveling. The costs for a snow thrower vs. snow blower are similar—homeowners can either buy one at a cost between $100 and $2,300, or rent one for about $75 per day. Homeowners will want to learn how to maintain a snow blower to help save on repairs or replacement and make the equipment last longer. It’s also a good idea to invest in one of the best nonstick sprays for snow blowers to avoid clogs.
Salt melts ice by lowering water’s freezing point in conditions above 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Applying salt to the sidewalk or driveway works well as a preventive measure against ice so that when snow hits the pavement, it won’t freeze. Having a service put down salt costs around $20 to $40 per application, or a bag of salt costs $10 to $30 for homeowners who choose to do it themselves. For labor, services charge about $1 to $3 per 1,000 square feet to salt a parking lot.
If a homeowner is debating whether to apply salt vs. sand, it’s important to understand what each does and how the two work differently. While it doesn’t melt snow like ice, sand provides grip and prevents slipping on ice. It costs about $20 to $40 per application to have a service put down sand. If a homeowner prefers to do it themselves and doesn’t have sand on hand, similar alternatives like wood ash or cat litter can also be used.
Emergency Snow or Ice Removal
Before the cold season sets in, it’s advised that homeowners check their roof’s load-bearing capacity. An amount of snow that exceeds this capacity can cause damage to the roof. Homeowners will also want to address ice dams, as they can lead to leakage indoors. Services for roof snow removal can also perform emergency snow and ice removal to help prevent any or further damage to the home.
Snow-Melting Mat Installation
Snow-melting mats use two layers of water-shedding, high-traction thermoplastic tucked between a heating element to melt snow. The mats work to keep driveways, stairways, and entryways dry and clear after snowstorms. A large driveway mat costs between $700 and $2,500, and a walkway mat costs $60 to $400. A more permanent option is to install a heated driveway, which costs around $1,300 to $7,500.
Do I Need a Snow Removal Service?
Depending on the situation and its severity, a homeowner may need to hire a snow removal service near them. While there are some scenarios in which the typical homeowner can tackle snow removal on their own, it’s generally advised that homeowners call in professionals to handle certain types of snow-related emergencies, as a pro is more likely to have the necessary experience and the proper snow removal equipment to handle a range of situations.
Emergency snow removal services can be called before or after a storm hits. Most often, homeowners or business owners can request that professionals address issues that threaten the integrity of a roof or the interior of a building after a storm. Before a storm, snow removal services can be called to introduce preventive measures. Potential emergencies include:
- Roof collapse and damage: The driveway often isn’t the only area that needs to be cleared of snow after a storm; in extreme conditions, a roof risks caving under a heavy load. It is advised for homeowners to check a roof’s load-bearing capacity before snow falls to ensure it won’t be compromised.
- Indoor leakage: Ice and ice dams can lead to leakage inside a house if they aren’t removed.
Hiring a professional is a reliable way for homeowners to ensure that their driveway will be cleared regularly. A company that focuses on snow removal will have the proper snow removing equipment and personnel to handle big and small jobs alike.
- Blocked paths: Snow removal services can clear excess snow to prevent a buildup so residents are able to leave their house, especially in the event of an emergency.
- Black ice: Snow removal companies are equipped to safely clear driveways of black ice, which can pose a safety threat.
Even if a customer’s snow removal needs fall outside of emergency situations or scenarios that require specialized equipment, there are a number of benefits to hiring a service for snow removal.
- Time saved: Snow removal services can efficiently remove snow with the proper equipment so the homeowner won’t have to invest time and money into shoveling snow themselves. This is particularly helpful for homeowners who simply don’t have the time for this task.
- Fewer health risks: A large buildup of snow around a house and driveway can pose a health hazard to the home’s residents and can lead to slips and falls. Snow can also camouflage patches of black ice.
- Commercial or residential codes: Many cities and towns require business and residential sidewalks to be clear of snow and ice, and it’s the responsibility of the business owner or homeowner to see that this is the case after a storm. If owners do not comply, they could face a hefty fine or ticket.
‘Snow Removal Near Me’: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Depending on the situation, it’s entirely possible for a homeowner or a business owner to perform snow removal themselves, especially if they know how to shovel snow. However, it’s important that they evaluate cost, experience, the amount of snow, and other factors to determine whether or not this is feasible or even advised. If a homeowner has the proper tools, the strength to plow or shovel, and the time, then the DIY method of snow removal will work well. However, if plowing snow falls outside of their skill set, searching for “snow removal companies near me” may be the right call.
In general, a homeowner will want to call in a professional in the following circumstances.
- They don’t own a truck, plow, and the proper equipment. Having a truck, a mount, or a plow may be a necessity for larger jobs, such as driveway snow removal or clearing a commercial lot.
- They want to avoid injury. Shoveling can put a strain on a person’s back and joints, and someone who isn’t physically prepared to shovel is advised to call in the professionals. Similarly, if a homeowner is afraid of slipping on ice and isn’t equipped to de-ice the ground, it’s best to leave this job to a snow removal service.
- They want to sleep in. A heavy snowfall overnight can add the unpleasant chore of digging out the car or shoveling the walk to an already busy morning. A snow removal service will arrive early in the morning so that the driveway is already clear by the time the homeowner leaves.
- They want professional results. Most homeowners want to get shoveling snow done as quickly as possible, which sometimes results in an incomplete job. Not only does professional snow removal look cleaner, but it will also not leave any slick patches where someone could slip and fall.
- They want to avoid damaging their home or yard. Snow removal services are pros at getting into nooks and crannies without damaging parts of the home, fencing, or landscaping. Improperly placed snow piles can also damage plants and landscaping, so having a professional take care of it may save a homeowner money on lawn maintenance in the spring.
How to Find a Reputable Snow Removal Service
When hiring a professional snow removal service, it’s important for customers to take the time to conduct thorough research to find the right fit for their needs. The following are some tips to help homeowners and business owners find the right local snow removal service for their needs.
- Make sure the service for snow removal you choose is insured and can provide proof of insurance.
- Check what jobs the company has taken on in the past, ask for references, and read reviews.
- Ask neighbors and acquaintances in your area for recommendations.
- Get estimates from a few different services to find the best price.
- Ask how pricing works for each service and whether there are ever additional fees.
- Ask if the company hires subcontractors or has a dedicated team.
- Read the contract thoroughly so that expectations are clear before you sign anything.
- Check whether the service is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and how they are rated.
Before hiring, customers will want to consider the type and location of the property that needs snow removal as well as any budget or time constraints.
How to Save Money on Hiring a Snow Removal Service
Snow removal prices can add up, especially during a particularly wet winter season. Luckily, there are a few effective ways customers can save on the cost of snow removal.
- Act quickly. If you’re expecting snow, it’s a good idea to get prepared ASAP. Snow accumulates quickly, and the longer it collects, the heavier and icier it gets. Arranging to have the snow removed after each snowfall will result in lower prices overall.
- Install a heated driveway or invest in a heated floor mat. While the up-front cost of a heated driveway is decidedly high, once it is installed you will never shovel or pay someone else to do so ever again. A heated floor mat is slightly less effective but also less expensive and can be moved to another home if necessary.
- Store equipment on your property. Some companies will offer a price reduction if they don’t have to transport equipment to the site. So if your home or business has a large storage space or warehouse, this could result in significant savings.
- Get estimates from multiple companies. To be sure you’re getting the best price, call around to more than one service for quotes.
- Consider signing a contract. Typically, committing to a long-term contract rather than paying for individual visits is much more affordable overall. Just be sure that you know exactly what services you are paying for before signing.
- Optimize your landscaping. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money in order to save, having landscaping done to improve drainage on the property and leave ample space to stack snow could save you thousands on snow removal costs. Consider hiring one of the best lawn care services to help you strategize.
Questions to Ask Your Local Snow Removal Service
Asking a local snow removal professional the right questions can help alleviate concerns before a big storm arrives. Below are some recommended questions for customers to ask a snow removal company at different stages after researching “snow removal services near me.”
Before hiring a snow removal service:
- What’s your experience removing snow, and do you have references?
- What is the estimated cost of your snow removal service?
- Do you pretreat properties before storms?
- Do you clear entryways and sidewalks, too?
- Do you assign a team to clear the driveway per storm? Do you use subcontractors?
- What equipment do you use?
- What can I expect after a storm? Will I need to call to let you know when to come?
- During a heavy storm, will you clear my driveway more than once?
- How do you control ice buildup on a property?
- Do you haul the snow away? If so, where do you take it?
- Do you have liability insurance in case of an accident?
During the removal process, if there is a problem:
- What are the next steps to fix this?
- What additional costs and extra time are needed to fix this?
- Are you able to clear my entryway, sidewalk, path, or roof as well?
After the project:
- To whom do I address payment?
- Where can I leave a review or testimonial?
- Are you able to come back later in the event of more snowfall?
Hiring a snow removal service can be a confusing process, especially if a homeowner has never done so before. Answers to some common questions about services for snow removal can help make that process easier.
Q. What is the going rate for snow removal?
For the DIY homeowner, it can cost anywhere between $15 and $2,300 to purchase the necessary equipment, which can include shovels, plows, and blowers. On the other hand, if a homeowner opts to hire a professional, costs will vary based on driveway size and the professional’s fixed rates. Alternatively, companies may charge a flat rate per visit that ranges between $25 and $75.
Q. How do you calculate snow removal cost?
The cost of hiring a snow removal company depends on the size of the driveway, geographic location, snowfall totals, and the service provided. Homeowners can plan to spend around $50 to $100 for the first 6 inches of snow with additional fees around $25. Snow management can be billed by season, inch, or hour.
Q. How many inches of snow do you need before you plow?
Many snow removal companies use a depth of 6 inches as a baseline to set rates, with additional fees determined by snow exceeding that amount. Many homeowners start shoveling or plowing when there’s at least 1 or 2 inches of snow as it can get more difficult to clear when there’s more to remove.
Q. Is an annual snow removal contract worth it?
For regions that receive a lot of snow each winter, a contract is usually worth the cost. Since visits from the snow removal service are more frequent, the base cost will be high, but still less than the cost of paying for individual visits after each snowfall. If a homeowner lives in a region that doesn’t receive much snow, they are probably better off without a contract.
Q. Can you plow a gravel driveway?
A gravel driveway can be plowed, but it typically costs about $50 to $100 more than to plow a concrete or asphalt driveway.
Q. What is the cheapest way to remove snow?
The cheapest snow removal method is the homeowner shoveling it themselves, but when they consider the potential risk of injury or the value of their time, they may find it worth it to hire a service instead.
Sources: HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide