3 Preseason Tips to Prep You for the Snow Removal Season

Mark Holman

What You Need to Know to Start the Snow Season on the Right Foot

By Mark Holman, General Manager

There’s no time like the present to get ready for the 2016-2017 snow removal season. This may be your first winter on the road or you may be a seasoned pro. Yet, you know that time is money.

Don’t wait until you’re called out to your first storm to worry about your equipment and vehicle’s ability to perform. Also, as a snow removal pro, remember to protect yourself from any liability issues by completing a preseason site check for each property.

You can have a successful snow and ice removal season with some preseason prep. Here are three things you must do before you start your truck and hitch up your snow removal gear:

Make sure you complete an equipment check: Unless your snow equipment is fresh off the dealer’s floor, do a thorough check. Make sure everything is in working order: lights, blinkers and plows. Also check your skid steer tires and attachments, back up alarms and snow plows. Order parts now so you have them on hand in case of a breakdown or if you need to make a last minute repair. Apply lubricant to all electrical connections, clean and paint all nicks and scratches to protect against corrosion and lubricate chrome rods to protect the hydraulic system.

Complete a vehicle check: You might’ve just had your truck inspected. But parts breakdown and you may not be aware of it. You need to check all lights, snow tires and brakes to make sure everything is operational. Also check for any leaks and rust. Check your truck’s oil level and monitor hoses and couplers to make sure they’re in working order. Make sure you monitor your vehicle’s electrical system—check to see if wires are tight and rust-free. Next, check your battery terminal connections, making sure that they’re corrosion-free and the battery is in working order. Last, but not least, check your vehicle’s alternator and regulator to ensure they’re in top working order. You don’t want your vehicle to break down in the middle of the storm of the century—only to have one of your buddies tow your truck because you didn’t check all the systems beforehand.

Complete a site visit: If you’re working independently, make sure that you complete a site visit. Map out where there are

  • Obstacles
  • Drainage and
  • Snow storage.

You need to be proactive when you visit your clients’ sites to avoid liability and costly repairs coming out of your pocket. Make the property manager aware of any site problems such as areas where snow will melt and refreeze—causing slip and fall accidents; existing damage on the property that you could be blamed for and any other hazards that could cause you to lose money and be responsible for liability.

You can avoid other costly mistakes by marking hidden fire hydrants, drainage areas, and parking lots with stakes. Color code them and use other differentiators to remind you and your crew where different hazards are on your client’s property. Plus, it makes you look professional because you’re taking the extra time and care to preserve your customer’s property from any damages.

If you’re working for a contractor this winter, make sure you either visit the sites with him and/or attend any trainings that would involve any site hazards. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions to protect yourself.

By preparing before the start of the snow season, you can safeguard your business and be certain that you’re ready to hit the road when the first flake falls.


ASCAonline.org, “Avoiding Plow Breakdowns.”
Freer, Douglas, “Stake Out,” SIMA.org: Sept. 19, 2016
Higley, Cheryl, “Site Visit 101,” SIMA.org: Sept. 1, 2015.
Sima.org, “Equipment Purchasing: What to Know before You Buy,” posted on June 7, 2016.
Ibid, “Get a Jump on Rust,” posted on Feb. 16, 2016.
Ibid, “Performing a Toolbox Talk/Circle Check,” posted Oct. 14, 2013.