snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp

Snow & Ice Melt for Aluminum Ramps

snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp
Snowy ADA Ramp

Our aluminum ramps have a knurled decking which provides slip resistance in both dry and wet conditions. However, snow and ice build-up on your ramp is a safety hazard and should be removed properly. As you probably know, removal from any metal surface has always been tricky because metal doesn’t react well with salt.

What is Knurling?

Knurling is a manufacturing process that adds traction or grip by cross-cutting smooth metal surfaces typically resulting in a diamond pattern.
extruded knurled stair decking

There are three main ways that we suggest to minimize any safety issues that can arise from weather-related issues.

1. A stiff-bristled broom.

A very simple way to remove any light snow accumulation from the ramp is to use a stiff bristled broom or push broom. The bristles of these brooms are strong enough to remove the snow from the ramp and from the grooves in the decking surface that gives the ramp the grip in the first place. On the actual ramp surface, you will have to push the snow up or down a ramp to a platform or to the ground since the wheel guard at the edges of the ramp will not allow the snow to be swept off of the side. Once the snow is on a platform, it can be swept across the platform and can be pushed off of the edge or through the rails. The key to using a stiff-bristled broom is to push hard enough to get into the grooves of the ramp surface and remove the snow, but you don’t want to scrub the surface so hard that you scratch the aluminum. If the aluminum is scratched, oxidation will occur more quickly.

2. Ice melt that is safe for aluminum.

If the snow and ice are too much for just a broom to handle, you may want to think about some sort of chemical snow-melt. We do not recommend using common rock salt on the aluminum. Typical rock salt will cause a reaction with the aluminum and will eventually cause some pitting, and weaken the structure. We recommend that our customers use a magnesium chloride ice melt. Magnesium chloride will not harm the aluminum, but can be hard to find. Another good option that we have found to be good for use with our aluminum ramps is Melt Premium Enviro Blend Ice Melter. This product can be spread on the snow and ice and will not damage the metal, concrete around it or be harmful to plants or animals.

Rock salt should not be used. Magnesium Chloride ice melt is recommended.

Magnesium Chloride v. Calcium Chloride:

  1. Both are readily available and commonly used; sometimes together
  2. Both can be corrosive to concrete and stainless steel
  3. Magnesium Chloride: Eutectic Melting Point -28*F Practical Melting Point 0*F
  4. Calcium Chloride: Eutectic Melting Point -59*F Practical Melting Point -25*F

Calcium Chloride works better when temperatures are below 0* F

  • Magnesium Chloride will not increase snow removal costs; it may possibly decrease expenses
  • Magnesium Chloride is comparable in cost to Calcium Chloride:

Magnesium Chloride – $20 for 50 lbs. v Calcium Chloride – $35 for 50 lbs. (2016 costs)

If Aluminum stairs are used, Magnesium Chloride should be used in concert with Calcium Chloride

3. Canopy over the ramp.

Of course, the best way to get out of the snow shoveling and ice melting business is to add an aluminum walkway canopy over your ramp or step.  Our canopy systems are a great way of keeping precipitation off of the ramp. They greatly cut down on the snow and ice build-up and are a great way of finishing off your project.

No matter what route you travel in making sure you remove the snow and ice from your ramps, be safe and stay warm!