Like it or not, it's that time of year and winter is fast approaching. That means it’s time to get our snow fleets prepared and ready for the impending snow!

One of the ways we end the snow season at our company is by turning as much of our remaining salt into brine as possible. Properly mixed 23.3% Salt Brine and salt brine blends with additives such as Headwaters Hot or Amp are stable in solution fairly indefinitely and will not require agitation in storage. As long as your storage containers have proper lids, you will not lose product to evaporation over the summer months and debris will stay out of your tanks.  Once we are done mixing our remaining salt into brine, we drain our brine maker and clean out remaining salt and debris and then flush water through the system and drain it out completely, including the bottom drain plug on the pump.
VSI 2020 Stainless Steel Brine Maker

When leaving brine additives in storage you have to be careful.  Some additives require agitation to keep suspended solids from settling to the bottom of the tank and hardening. We learned that lesson years ago with Road Guard 8. We left it in storage over the Summer months and the next Fall when we went to fill some of our spray rigs, the tanks would not pump out. We finally figured out this was because there was over 12” of sludge at the bottom of each tank. Had we heeded the instructions on agitation from the manufacturer, this would not have happened..

Brine and Additive Storage Tanks for Voigt Smith Innovation

That being said, we have been very pleased with Headwaters Hot from Harmoney Deicing Products, because we can store it indefinitely without any need for agitation. We had the same success with Amp from Envirotech in that we could leave it in storage without need to agitate. We have been strong advocates for products that contain clean, clear, odorless bio based inhibitors for this reason and because it leaves our customers properties the cleanest possible with no risk of tracking or staining.

Harmoney De-Icing Products Logo

Unfortunately most other products are sugar, molasses and beet based. In our experience most of these products, while quite effective as de-icers, come with the negative side effects of requiring agitation in storage, plugging filters on spray systems, and tracking issues when applied on sidewalks and near entryways on customers' properties. 

Typically our VSI liquid de-icing spray units require very little to get ready for the season besides putting them back on the trucks. This is because we took the steps after the previous season ended to make sure they would be in tip top shape when fall rolled around.
These steps include washing the sprayer thoroughly to remove any salt or road spray. Flushing the system with water and draining all water out by opening all valves and draining the bottom plug on the pump. Putting fuel stabilizer in the remaining fuel and allowing it to run through the system, changing to fresh motor oil and fogging the carb.

305 Gallon Liquid De-Icing Sprayer

Our 2019 and older units all had a main wiring harness that would require a connection, and typically we always covered these connections in dielectric grease and put the provided caps on. With the 2020 units being wireless, this is one less step and one less maintenance item to deal with, and now the new units can be placed in any truck with virtually no install or removal time.

We don’t typically fill our spray rigs until closer to the first snow event, as we may want to use a different blend based on conditions, and also because we have found that if salt brine sits sedentary for too long in the pumps, that salt can creep through the pump seal and damage it.

Metal Pless Plows ready for Winter

Our fleet of Metal Pless plows have been bullet proof. Very few mechanical repairs or issues have occured and with the Live Edge system on all of the plows, we have to replace our cutting edges and shoes so infrequently that going into season 4 with our fleet we are still on original edges and shoes.
When the previous season ended, the plows were washed down, greased and placed into indoor storage. When we pulled them out this fall, we connected them to each machine to ensure functionality, especially with the wiring harness and the hydraulic lines. Make sure your wiring and wire ends are solid, no breaks or dings, if there are any, fix them, even if the plow still works. It’s easy to fix now, and very annoying to fix at 2am during a snow event.
If hydraulic lines have any surface cracking or leaks, replace them now. Lines are cheap, downtime is not. Make sure your in cab switches are solid, not broken or loose.
Make sure bolts are tight and that there are no broken springs or leaf springs on the edges or shoes.
Soldering wires for Metal Pless wiring harness

Once all of this is verified, we put the plows into service, and in Mid October, we will start parking our loaders and tractors on our sites so they are 100% ready and in place for the first snow. We have had large snow events in late October in Southern MN, so we always make sure to be prepared.

A Lot of what has been said here is common sense, but it's the little things and the details that make all the difference when that first snow event rolls around. If you have any questions about how to make sure your VSI Brine Maker, VSI Liquid De-Icing Sprayers or Metal Pless plows should be prepped for storage and subsequently prepped for the first snowfall, feel free to reach out anytime and we can help! 

Written by Jordan Smith

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