What Happens If You Don’t Shovel Snow? (Solved & Explained!)

Not shoveling snow can have dastardly consequences. Not only do you present a safety hazard to everyone leaving from and visiting your home, you could also incur some hefty legal issues while allowing other dangers to manifest. Slippery sidewalks, driveways and other trafficked areas can cause injury and, in severe instances, death.

When is it important to shovel snow?

Although shoveling may not be detrimental after an initial dusting of snow, later snowfalls will accumulate on all the walkways and driveways on your property. So, it’s important to shovel snow the moment you begin to notice accumulation.

Some areas, like in Boulder County, Colorado, require waiting to shovel your sidewalk and driveway until after the snow plow comes through. This makes logical sense since you’ll have to shovel twice if you do it before the plow works its way onto a primary thoroughfare.

How is not shoveling dangerous to people?

The more snow that comes, the more it will pile up. If you let this go, it becomes more difficult to shovel. This can present a danger to you, vehicles, other people and even pets. So, it’s important to be aware of these hazards.

Shoveling heavy snow can hurt your body, particularly your knees and back. If you’re older, not very active or have physical ailments, this will not help matters. It’s not uncommon to hear about an elderly person, who’s mostly sedentary, to have a stroke or heart attack while shoveling snow.

How is not shoveling dangerous to vehicles?

If cars sit in your driveway and you neglect shoveling, this can expose the underside to moisture for extended periods of time. This leads to rust formation along with stiffened tires, brakes, axles, differentials and other parts sitting under the car.

All of which become brittle from freezing cold conditions. These issues hasten when your car comes into contact with salt, sand and other deicing substances.

Then there’s the danger to cars and other vehicles that drive to and from your home. The slipperiness can cause vehicles to roll backward or forward unintentionally. This can result in a wreck or crashing into your home.  If your driveway has a steep grade, these issues increase.

What are the risks of not shoveling?

Not only does not shoveling raise the risk of injury, to you and others, but you’re also allowing black ice to develop under the snow. Black ice is one of the most dangerous things in wintertime.

You can’t see it, you don’t know it’s there, you can’t anticipate it and you will, more than likely, discover it when it’s too late to do anything about it. The longer snow sits and piles up on surfaces like concrete and asphalt, the greater likelihood for black ice to build up.

Can a lack of shoveling damage the driveway?

Your driveway can sustain serious damage if you fail to shovel it. When snow melts, the water seeps into the crevices and cracks of the driveway. When that water freezes again, the ice expands and widens those cracks and crevices.

What are the legal implications of not shoveling snow?

If the driveway is for a business or rental property, some municipalities have legal obligations for shoveling snow. This means you could receive a lawsuit from someone slipping or receive a hefty fine from your local government.

If someone slips and they sue you, it’s not unheard of for the courts to award injury victims $300,000 for negligence. All of which comes out of the pocket of the property owner. These kinds of suits have resulted in either the financial ruin of property owners or have landed them in jail.


There are even some places, like NYC, that require residents to shovel their portion of the sidewalk. The city can come and serve you a fine for the first offense with the increased chance of going to jail if you persist in failing to shovel.

Other areas, as in Wisconsin, will burden you with abatement. This means the local government will hire a snow removal service to clear your property and you will have to pay for the charges. In some instances, the cost of this will be more than you want to pay for or can afford.

Are renters required to shovel snow?

In most places, shoveling isn’t the responsibility of someone renting the property. It usually lies on the shoulders of the property owner. However, if you are renting a home, you may have a stipulation in your rental agreement that requires you to shovel. If this is the case, you will incur all the lawsuits, fines and other legal issues if you fail to shovel.

Is there a way to reduce the amount of shoveling?

If you really don’t want to shovel snow and wish to reduce your frequency in doing it, you will have to stay on top of and anticipate accumulation of snowfall. Using a deicing agent, like salt or sand, before it snows will go a long way in minimizing the number of times you’ll have to shovel.

The salt will melt the snow on contact and each granule will keep a certain diameter around it free and clear of snow. While this won’t mitigate the need to shovel altogether, it helps prevent ice from forming under the snow and makes it easier to shovel.

What should you do if you can’t shovel?

If you are one of those people who aren’t physically able to shovel snow, there are many options available to handle this. First, you can hire a neighbor to shovel your driveway and sidewalk for you. There might be a healthy, fit and willing person who will be happy to help you.

Or, you can hire a professional snow removal service. This may be more ideal if you have a large property. But, if you don’t want to spend the extra money to pay someone, then you can invest in a snow blower and do it yourself.