Best Practices – Snow Removal – Part 2 of 3
Last week we began a 3-part series in Snow Removal Best Practices in which we reviewed the list of recommended required equipment. This week we will continue the discussion in part 2 of 3.
When preparing and training your staff for snow removal there are many things to consider, including knowing the language within your warranty to ensure nothing you do will not violate and void it. Listed below are several items that will need to be addressed and discussed. The items outlined and recommended are Best Practices that should not void any vendor’s warranty.
VEHICLES: It is critical to ensure the vehicle utilized to clear the snow does not leak fluid of any sort. Any vehicle on the surface regardless of the season cannot leak – this must be tested prior to use.
TIRES: Chains should never be utilized on the surface. Deep tread tires similar to those used on tractors or loaders should not be utilized. Smooth tread tires are preferred. Proper inflation is required, or damage could occur.
AREA AROUND THE FIELD FOR SNOW: The initial design of an artificial turf field should allow for snow storage area on the perimeter of the field, preferably this area should be asphalt. A running track can be utilized for snow storage where applicable.
SURFACE WEAR: Plowing definitely wears the fiber of the surface, just like use. The fact is an artificial turf field is a large investment and needs to be managed by professionals and a proper snow removal process is just as important as the need for professional maintenance of the surface throughout the season.
TIME REQUIRED: Snow removal can take hours and needs to be performed with caution. Example with 6” of snow: With snow storage room around the field, it can take 3 hours to clear the field for play, if there is no access area around the field and the snow needs to be transported off the field it can take 8 hours.
VEHICLE OPERATION: Never make tight turns, only wide sweeping turns to ensure the blade/brush does not dig into the surface. Large sweeping turns will also reduce the torque experienced on the surface from the tires of the vehicle.
SNOW REMOVAL: Snow can be mechanically removed utilizing plows, blades, brushes, blowers, etc., but they must be modified to incorporate nonmetal (plastic/rubber) ski feet, that are adjustable to various heights.
The desired adjustment is ¼” above the surface. Ski feet are required on both ends of the device to ensure it never comes in contact with the actual artificial turf surface.
SPEED OF OPERATION: Speed not to exceed 10 mph. Slow, sweeping turns should be utilized to diminish the torque on the surface and reduce the likelihood of damage. It is important to govern your speed, if the speed becomes too high, the plow/ blower/brush could bounce and unexpectedly rip into the surface causing major damage.
FREEZING RAIN: When freezing rain is anticipated, the fields should be left covered with a tarp. Any snow on the field should be left until the freezing rain has concluded. It is not desired to have freezing rain directly on the field surface. Snow underneath will aid in the removal process.
EMERGENCY PLOWING: If the proper equipment is not available and the need to remove snow is critical a schedule 80 plastic pipe can be cut and placed over the blade of plow. A professional rubber tipped blade should be purchased immediately, and ski feet should always be utilized.
HEATING SYSTEMS: There are professional heating systems that are preferred over the snow removal process. A series of pipes can be designed into the field that can circulate either glycol or salt water under the field surface, keeping the surface warm and allowing for easy removal of snow and/or ice. This is always the best approach.
ICE MELT: A very limited amount of Ice Melt (Calcium Chloride based) can be utilized sparingly, as it can be a skin irritant to athletes. The removal or snow and/or ice should be attempted as outlined in the “Snow Removal Process” before the Ice Melt chemical is applied.
SNOW DEPTH: It is desired to keep the amount of snow build up to a minimum. Whenever possible the snow should be cleared before it gets to 3” in depth. Although a larger depth of snow will not harm the surface, it does make the removal process more difficult and time consuming.
SKI FEET: All blades, blowers, brushes, etc. should be modified to have adjustable ski feet on either side to ensure that they never actually come in contact with the surface. The adjustable ski feet should be utilized to keep the actual snow removal attachment approximately ¼” above the surface.
SNOW TARP: A snow tarp is very useful in that it can aid in the snow removal process and decrease the amount of energy and time required to make the field ready for play. Especially if freezing rain is expected. Any scheduled use should have the tarp placed upon the playing surface of the field to ensure usability when required. The minimum thickness is recommended of 20 mil.
SNOW REMOVAL PATTERN: It is preferred to plow, brush, blow in the direction of the roll layout (typically across the field). It is acceptable to plow, brush, blow across the seams but should be kept to a minimum.
PLOWING: When plowing, do not try and scrape the surface clean, doing so will result in undesired removal of the infill and could result in the surface being unsafe for play.
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