How to Hire a Snow Removal Service So You Don’t Get Snowed In

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated January 13, 2022
A house during winter all covered in snow
Photo: Perry Mastrovito / Image Source / Getty Images

Leave the snow to a pro this winter

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The saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” But when it comes to snow, it’s more like, “what comes down, must go up.” It’s important to quickly (and completely) remove snow after a storm because snow-covered surfaces can become slippery and dangerous. If there’s enough of the white stuff, it can even make getting from your front door to your car difficult. 

However, shoveling snow can be both time and labor-intensive, which is why some people prefer to leave it to the pros. Here’s what you need to know, including some important questions to ask, before outsourcing the oft-dreaded winter chore to a pro.

How to Find a Snow Removal Service

Keeping your driveway, sidewalks, and walking paths free of snow is important for safety reasons, so you’ll want to find a service that is both reliable and reputable. To make sure you’re partnering with a service that fits that bill, you can talk to your neighbors, post on a local message board, and even search online for a snow removal service near you

Before Hiring a Snow Removal Service

Decide exactly what spaces you want cleared and if there are any special steps you’ll want them to take. For example, if you have a four-legged friend who will be trekking through your freshly cleared areas then you’ll want to make sure any deicing agents they use (like salt) are safe for Fido. In some areas, residents are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear, and in others that may extend to the street. 

Plan Your Snow Removal Route for Accurate Quotes

Check any requirements from your municipality to ensure you know where you’re obligated to keep clear. Also, decide which areas you’ll want tackled. Some common spots are: 

  • Driveways

  • Walkways

  • Sidewalks

You should try to get at least three quotes and make sure each quote covers all of the areas you want cleared. You don’t want to wait until there’s 16 inches of snow standing between you and your freshly plowed driveway to discover your snow removal service didn’t include your walkway.

Check Your Snow Removal Service’s Qualifications and References

A man removing snow from house’s garden
Photo: Onfokus / E+ / Getty Images

Hiring a service that is licensed and insured not only protects them, but you and your property as well. Snow removal services work around some of the most expensive things you own (like your home and automobile) so you want to make sure you’re covered in case their work damages them. 

You should also ask any prospective service for some references before you hire them. If they can give you the names of a few happy customers then you can feel a little more confident that you’ll be satisfied as well. Any company that can’t (or won’t) give you references might be trying to hide something.

Questions to Ask Your Snow Removal Service

  • Do I have to call you when there’s a snowstorm or will you automatically come out?

  • Do you wait until after the snow has stopped falling or make multiple passes throughout the storm?

  • How do you remove the snow (with a shovel, snow thrower, or plow)?

  • Will you use salt after you’re done and is it pet-safe?

  • How will I be billed? 

  • Can I sign an annual contract for snow removal or will we set something up for each storm? 

Hiring Your Snow Removal Service

It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring a kid from the neighborhood who’s handy with a shovel or a big commercial outfit that has a fleet of plows in its arsenal, you should still make sure you’re having a conversation about exactly what services they will provide and any expectations you may have.

Interview Your Snow Removal Service

Talking to a few different providers will not only help you choose the one best suited to the job, but it will also give you a better idea of what your expectations should be. In a perfect world, a snow removal service would keep snowfall from keeping you from getting where you need to go. However, many don’t come out until after the snow has stopped falling, and some may even be prevented from getting out on the roads by the same conditions keeping you at home. 

Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Snow Removal Service

You don’t want to wait to find out that your snow removal service only takes cash when you’re snowed in with an empty wallet. Setting up a contract that clearly states the areas to be serviced, how much it will cost, and how payment can prevent you from being surprised. You can expect to pay between $350 to $450 for an annual contract. 

After Your Snow Removal Service Has Finished

Unlike when you’re dealing with Old Man Winter, working with a snow removal service should always leave you satisfied. If you’re happy with the way the job’s been done you should consider leaving a positive review for the company online or offer to be a reference for future clients. This can make a big difference for small companies and help others find the best pro to deal with the snow.

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