For homeowners with privacy fences, the winter season brings the possibility of fence damage from heavy snow accumulation and improper removal techniques. Knowing how to safely clear snow buildup from around your fence is key to avoiding costly repairs or replacement down the road. Protect your Fence in the Winter with some advance planning and care.
In this article, we’ll provide useful tips for effective snow removal for common privacy fence materials like vinyl, wood, and metal. With some preparation and care, you can keep your fence looking great all winter long.
Use Proper Shoveling Techniques
When using a shovel around your fence, take care not to bang, scrape or dent the boards. Metal shovels can easily scratch or chip vinyl and wood surfaces. Instead, push accumulated snow straight ahead gently when working near the fence line. Avoid excessive sideways motion parallel to the fence which could loosen or dislodge pickets. For further protection, consider using a plastic snow shovel which will glide over the fence surface without scratching or damaging it.
Clear Snow Frequently
Don’t allow heavy piles of snow to accumulate on or near your fence. As it sits, snow gets denser and heavier as it melts and refreezes into solid chunks of ice. This added weight strains the structure, including wooden posts, rails and gate frames. Frequent light removal is much safer than allowing major buildup and then trying to dislodge it all at once. For moderate snowfalls, clear buildup at least every few days. For heavy storms, you may need to remove accumulations multiple times a day to prevent excessive loading.
Watch Out for Snow Drifts
Pay extra attention to spots where snow tends to drift up against your fence, especially near gaps along the bottom or between panels. Use a snow rake to gently pull drifted snow away from the fence. You can then fill gaps with caulk or other sealants to prevent further drift accumulation. Don’t forget to check side and rear yard gates which can easily get blocked by drifts. Clearing them quickly prevents snow and ice from freezing gates shut.
Use Caution When Plowing Nearby
Use extreme care when plowing or shoveling snow from nearby driveways and walkways to avoid damaging your fence. It’s easy for snow plows to accidentally ram into the fence when visibility is poor. Set up markers to designate fence locations and alert plowing contractors. Shoveling snow up against the base can also overload the structure. Direct shoveled snow off to the sides instead of piling it at the fence line whenever possible.
Watch for Falling Snow and Ice
Stay alert for accumulating snow sliding off rooftops and trees which could strike and harm your fence. Falling chunks can break wooden boards and crush panels. Listen for any sounds of sliding snow after a storm. Avoid walking right next to the fence when heavy snow is falling from above. Use care when removing icicles to avoid large pieces falling onto your fence. Prune tree branches to minimize damage.
Reinforce Fence Posts
Consider reinforcing fence posts prior to winter by securing loose posts or installing supports. This added stability prevents excessive swaying or leaning as snow piles up, reducing the chance of warping or cracking under the heavy weight. Check that post caps are secure and install gap sealing at the base. Mounding soil or gravel around exposed post bases adds further freezing protection and anchoring.
Inspect for Damage Regularly
As you clear snow around the fence, take time to inspect for any damage that may have already occurred from the weather. Look for loose or cracked pickets, bent posts, sagging gates and other issues so they can be promptly fixed before the problems worsen. Checking for damage will also help identify any vulnerable or weak spots that may need extra reinforcement.
Space Panels Properly
If installing a new fence before winter arrives, make sure to space panels properly to allow for even snow distribution. Panels placed too closely lead to deeper snow piling that focused pressure on posts. Follow the fencing manufacturer’s specifications for correct gap spacing between sections. This ensures snow can flow through evenly rather than accumulating in isolated piles.
Consider Hiring Help
For homeowners unsure about safely removing snow around their fence, professional snow removal services may be the best solution. Experienced crews will have the proper tools and knowledge to clear snow thoroughly without damaging your fence or landscape. They can access hard-to-reach areas and offer affordable rates. Professionals can also assess any weather-related damage and provide recommendations.
Use Low-Impact Removal Methods
When clearing snow yourself, opt for low-impact, protective methods whenever possible. Use push brooms instead of shovels near the fence. Knock accumulated snow off upper rails using a soft-bristle brush. For vinyl or metal fences, spray with a deicing solution to help dislodge snow buildup gently. Avoid chipping or scratching the surface.
Think About Future Weatherproofing
Once winter passes, consider any weatherproofing improvements that could better protect your privacy fence next season. Close up gaps between pickets and rails with durable caulk or filler rods. Add metal caps to post tops to prevent moisture rot. Extend fence panels fully to the ground to block wind and drafts. Gravel or stone around the base helps impede frost upheaval.
With some preparation and the proper snow removal techniques, you can help your privacy fence stand up to harsh winter weather year after year. Avoid buildup and drifts around the perimeter, watch for falling snow and ice dangers, and take time to carefully clear snow without damaging the fence. When in doubt, call in professionals to safely remove snow buildup and assess any damage. A few reasonable precautions will keep your fence looking its best despite winter’s worst.
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