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The 10 Commandments of Residential Snow Removal Services

Importance of Snow Removal

When winter blankets our homes in Reading, MA with snow, removing it isn’t just about keeping our property looking its best. It’s vital for safety and access. Here’s what you need to know immediately:

  • Safety: Snow and ice can create dangerous conditions leading to falls and injuries.
  • Property Access: Clear paths are essential for getting in and out of your home.
  • Aesthetics: A well-maintained property retains its beauty, even in the depths of winter.

Safety concerns can’t be overstressed. Slips and falls are common and can be severe. Ensuring walkways, driveways, and entry points are clear of snow and ice reduces the risk of accidents. But there’s more to snow removal than just safety. It’s also about maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your property, ensuring it looks inviting and well-cared for, even when covered in snow.

Why It Matters

Snow removal is more than a chore—it’s a necessity. Letting snow and ice accumulate can cause long-term damage to your landscaping and hardscaping, leading to costly repairs down the line. It’s about ensuring safe, clear access for you and your visitors and preserving the integrity and beauty of your outdoor space.

Infographic detailing the immediate actions for snow removal: 1. Assess the area to be cleared. 2. Select the right equipment for the snow type. 3. Apply de-icing product if necessary. 4. Clear the snow early to prevent ice formation. 5. Pile snow away from structures and plants. - residential snow removal infographic pillar-3-steps

By understanding the importance of snow removal, recognizing the safety concerns, and appreciating the role it plays in maintaining property aesthetics, you’re setting the stage for a winter where your home remains safe, accessible, and visually pleasing, regardless of the weather.

Commandment 1: Know Your Equipment

When it comes to residential snow removal, the first rule is simple but crucial: know your equipment. This isn’t just about having the tools; it’s about understanding which tool is right for each job, how to use them effectively, and ensuring they’re in good working order when you need them.

Shovels

Shovels are the most basic tool in your snow removal arsenal. Not all shovels are created equal, though. A lightweight, ergonomic shovel with a curved handle can reduce the strain on your back. For different types of snow, consider having more than one shovel. A smaller one is great for light dustings, while a larger, sturdy shovel is better for heavy snowfalls.

Snow Blowers

Snow blowers can be a game-changer, especially for those with larger driveways or areas to clear. There are different types, including single-stage and two-stage models. Single-stage blowers are suitable for light to moderate snowfall, while two-stage blowers can handle heavier snow and more rugged terrain. Maintenance is key. As outlined in our research, essential tools like combination wrenches, screwdrivers, and wire cutters are crucial for keeping your snow blower in top condition. Regular checks and pre-season inspections can prevent frustration and delays when the snow starts to fall.

De-icing Materials

Choosing the right de-icing material is as important as choosing between a shovel and a snow blower. Rock salt is the most common and cost-effective option, but it can damage plants and isn’t effective in extremely low temperatures. Calcium chloride is more expensive but works in colder conditions and is less harmful to vegetation. For those looking for eco-friendly alternatives, options like sand or coffee grounds provide traction without the chemical impact, although they don’t actually melt the snow.

Remember:
Match the tool to the task. Light snowfalls might just need a shovel, while a snow blower could save you time and effort when dealing with heavier coverage.
Maintenance matters. Regularly check your equipment to ensure it’s ready to go when you need it. This includes sharpening shovel edges, checking snow blower parts, and replenishing your stock of de-icing materials.
Consider the environment. Choose de-icing materials that won’t harm your plants or pets, and that are effective for the conditions you’re dealing with.

By mastering your equipment, you ensure that when the snow falls, you’re ready to clear it efficiently, safely, and with minimal impact on your property and the environment. As we move into the next commandments, keep in mind that preparation and knowledge are your best tools in the battle against winter weather.

Next, we’ll dive into Commandment 2: Plan Ahead, where we’ll discuss the importance of weather forecasts, pre-treatment strategies, and ensuring your equipment is ready before the snow starts.

Commandment 2: Plan Ahead

Weather Forecasts

Keeping an eye on the weather is crucial. Modern technology gives us a heads-up days before snow hits. Use weather apps or local news to stay informed. This isn’t just about knowing when snow will start, but understanding how much is expected and how long it will last. These details shape your snow removal strategy.

Pre-treatment Strategies

Before the flakes even start to fall, you can take steps to make removal easier. Applying a layer of salt or a de-icing agent to your driveway and walkways can prevent ice from bonding to the surface. Think of it as a non-stick coating for your pavements. This doesn’t just make shoveling easier; it makes it safer, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

Equipment Readiness

Imagine the first snowstorm of the season is hours away, and you discover your snowblower won’t start, or your only shovel is cracked. Avoid this scenario by checking your equipment long before winter sets in. Make sure everything is in working order and you have enough de-icing agent on hand. If you use a snowblower, do a maintenance check: change the oil, inspect the belts, and make sure it’s fueled up and ready to go.

Preparation is key. By staying informed about upcoming weather, pre-treating surfaces, and ensuring your equipment is ready, you can tackle snow removal more effectively and safely. As we move into the next commandments, keep in mind that preparation and knowledge are your best tools in the battle against winter weather.

Commandment 3: Use the Right De-icing Products

When winter strikes with its icy grip, the battle to keep your driveways and walkways clear isn’t just about removing snow; it’s also about preventing ice. Ice can be a real hazard, leading to slips and falls. That’s why choosing the right de-icing products is crucial. Let’s break it down:

Salt

Salt is the most common de-icer. It works by lowering the freezing point of water, effectively melting ice. However, it’s not perfect. Salt can be harmful to plants and can corrode metal surfaces. It’s also less effective in very cold temperatures below 15°F (-9°C). But for many, it’s the go-to choice because it’s affordable and readily available.

Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is like salt’s stronger cousin. It can work in much colder temperatures, down to -20°F (-29°C). It also acts faster than salt and is less harmful to vegetation. However, it’s more expensive. For those in colder climates or looking for a quicker action, calcium chloride can be a better option.

Eco-friendly Alternatives

For those concerned about the environment or the safety of pets, eco-friendly alternatives are worth considering. These products use less corrosive materials and are designed to be safer for plants and animals. They might include ingredients like beet juice or cheese brine, mixed with traditional salts to reduce their environmental impact. While these options can be more costly, they offer peace of mind for eco-conscious homeowners.

Choosing the Right Product

  • Consider the temperature: If you’re in a region that experiences extreme cold, calcium chloride might be your best bet.
  • Think about your landscaping: If you have a lot of greenery or are concerned about the environmental impact, look into eco-friendly options.
  • Budget matters: Salt is more budget-friendly, but weigh the potential damage to your property or the environment against the cost savings.

Why It Matters

Using the right de-icing product is not just about melting ice; it’s about doing it in a way that’s safe for your family, pets, and the environment. Plus, the right product can save you time and effort by working more efficiently and effectively.

As we’ve seen, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to de-icing products. By understanding the pros and cons of each option, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs and keeps your property safe during the winter months. The goal is to combat ice while minimizing harm to your surroundings.

Next Steps

Now that you know about the different de-icing products, it’s time to tackle the next challenge: timing and technique. Stay tuned as we dive into how and when to clear snow to prevent ice formation in the first place.

Commandment 4: Clear Snow Early and Often

When it comes to residential snow removal, timing isn’t just everything; it’s the only thing. Let’s break down why this commandment is crucial for keeping your property safe and accessible during the winter months.

Timing is Key

The best time to remove snow is early in the morning before the day warms up. Why? Because any snow that melts during the day can refreeze at night, creating dangerous ice patches. By clearing snow early, you reduce the risk of ice formation and ensure that walkways and driveways are safer to navigate throughout the day.

Tackling Accumulation Issues

Snow can pile up faster than you think, especially during heavy snowfalls. If you wait too long to start clearing, the snow can become compacted and much harder to remove. This not only makes your job tougher but also increases the risk of injury. Frequent shoveling prevents snow from accumulating to unmanageable levels and keeps paths clear and safe.

Preventing Ice Formation

One of the biggest dangers of snow accumulation is the ice it can turn into. As mentioned, snow that melts during the day can freeze into ice overnight, creating slippery conditions. Regularly clearing snow, especially after new snowfall, helps prevent this cycle of melting and refreezing. This is crucial for avoiding falls and ensuring that everyone can move around your property safely.

To sum up, clearing snow early and often is a must for any homeowner during the winter. Not only does it make the task of snow removal easier, but it also plays a significant role in preventing ice formation and ensuring the safety of your property. A little effort goes a long way in maintaining safe, walkable surfaces all winter long.

Next Steps

With the right timing and technique, you’re well on your way to mastering residential snow removal. Up next, we’ll explore how to employ proper shoveling techniques to minimize effort and avoid injuries.

Commandment 5: Employ Proper Shoveling Techniques

Shoveling snow might seem straightforward, but doing it wrong can lead to discomfort or even injury. Let’s dive into how to shovel effectively, focusing on ergonomics, shoveling patterns, and avoiding injuries.

Ergonomics:

The way you handle the shovel can make a big difference. Choose a shovel with a curved handle to keep your back straight while lifting. Lightweight, plastic shovels reduce the strain compared to heavier metal ones. When shoveling, keep your feet hip-width apart, bend at the knees (not the waist), and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift. Turn your whole body in the direction you want to throw the snow instead of twisting at the waist. This reduces the risk of back injuries.

Shoveling Patterns:

Don’t just dive in; have a plan. Start clearing snow from the middle of your driveway or walkway and push it to the sides. This method prevents you from moving the same snow multiple times and reduces the effort required. If you’re dealing with deep snow, don’t try to shovel the full depth in one go. Break it into layers to lighten each load. Also, if possible, shovel while the snow is still falling and before it has a chance to settle and become packed. Fresh snow is lighter and easier to move.

Avoiding Injuries:

Warm up before you start, just like you would before any physical activity. Stretch your arms, legs, and back to prepare your muscles for the work ahead. Take frequent breaks to prevent overexertion. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the process. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing if you get too warm. Use proper footwear with good grip to prevent slips and falls. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop immediately.

Shoveling snow can be a demanding task, and it’s important to listen to your body. If you have any medical conditions or if the snow is too heavy, consider hiring professionals like Picano Landscaping. They have the expertise and equipment to clear snow quickly and efficiently, reducing the risk of injury.

Next Steps

Now that we’ve covered the basics of shoveling, let’s move on to protecting your landscaping during snow removal. This is crucial for maintaining the beauty and health of your outdoor space throughout the winter. Stay tuned for tips on covering plants, avoiding chemical damage, and strategic snow piling.

Commandment 6: Protect Your Landscaping

Winter can be tough on your landscaping, but with a few smart strategies, you can minimize the damage. Let’s dive into how to keep your plants safe, avoid chemical harm, and pile snow correctly.

Covering Plants

When a snowstorm is forecasted, it’s time to think about your plants. Small, fragile plants and shrubs can be crushed under heavy snow. Use burlap or plant covers to shield them. This creates a breathable barrier that protects plants from the weight of the snow without smothering them.

Avoiding Chemical Damage

De-icing products are a double-edged sword. They clear ice but can harm your plants. When you’re dealing with residential snow removal, it’s important to choose your de-icing products carefully. Salt, while effective, can leach into the soil and damage plant roots. Instead, consider using calcium chloride or eco-friendly alternatives that are less harsh on your landscaping. These products help melt ice without the negative side effects salt can bring to your plants and soil.

Snow Piling Strategies

Where you pile snow matters. It’s tempting to just shovel snow off your driveway and sidewalks without thinking about where it ends up. However, piling snow on your garden beds or at the base of trees can lead to problems. Heavy snow piles can break branches and compact the soil, making it hard for roots to breathe.

Try to distribute snow evenly across your property, away from sensitive plants and trees. If you have a designated area where snow can be piled without causing damage, use that spot. Otherwise, spreading it out will prevent any one area from becoming too compacted or damaged.

Wrap-Up

Protecting your landscaping during the winter requires a bit of planning and effort, but it’s worth it. By covering delicate plants, choosing the right de-icing products, and being strategic about where you pile snow, you can help ensure your outdoor space emerges from winter as beautiful as ever. The goal is to make it through the cold months with your landscaping intact, ready to bloom come spring.

As we continue to navigate the challenges of winter weather, keep these tips in mind for safeguarding your green spaces. Next, we’ll explore the importance of ensuring safe walkways and driveways, a key aspect of residential snow removal that keeps everyone moving safely during the snowy season.

Commandment 7: Ensure Safe Walkways and Driveways

Winter brings its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining the safety of walkways and driveways. It’s not just about keeping these areas clear of snow; it’s also about ensuring they’re safe to walk and drive on. Here’s how to do just that.

Traction

One of the most immediate dangers of cleared snow paths is the thin layer of ice that can form, making surfaces slippery and hazardous. To combat this, applying traction materials is essential. Common traction aids include sand or kitty litter. They don’t melt the ice but provide a gritty surface that helps prevent slips and falls. A little goes a long way, so spread these materials sparingly but effectively on your walkways and driveways.

Clearing Paths

Regular, reliable snow removal is crucial. As highlighted in our research, keeping sidewalks, access points, walkways, and other busy surfaces free from compacted snow and ice is vital. Snow should be cleared early and often, preferably in the morning and evening, to prevent it from becoming compacted and turning into ice. Utilize a snow blower or a sturdy shovel to keep these areas clear. For those hard-to-reach places or delicate surfaces, a hand shovel or broom might be more appropriate.

When clearing snow, create wide paths that allow for easy passage. Snow piles should be placed in a location where they won’t create additional hazards, such as obstructing views or melting and refreezing in walkways.

Handrail Safety

If your property includes steps, ensuring the safety of handrails during the winter is paramount. Handrails should be cleared of snow and ice, just like walkways and driveways. This not only makes them visible but also ensures they can be used safely. If possible, apply a small amount of de-icing product to handrails to prevent ice formation. However, ensure that these products won’t damage the material of the handrail.

Ensuring the safety of your walkways and driveways isn’t just about removing snow; it’s about thoughtful preparation and maintenance. By focusing on traction, clearing paths properly, and securing handrail safety, you’re taking significant steps to prevent accidents and ensure everyone can move safely around your property during the winter months.

As we’ve explored the importance of maintaining safe access to your property, it’s clear that winter weather demands attention and action. Whether you’re doing it yourself or considering professional residential snow removal services, the safety of your walkways and driveways is a priority that cannot be overlooked. Next, we’ll delve into the importance of adhering to local snow removal laws, ensuring compliance, and fostering a safe community environment.

Commandment 8: Be Mindful of Local Snow Removal Laws

When the snow starts to fall, it’s not just about keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear for your own convenience. Local laws play a big part in how, when, and where you should manage snow removal. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for fostering safety and compliance in your community. Let’s break down the key areas you need to focus on: sidewalk clearing, parking regulations, and overall compliance.

Sidewalk Clearing

Most towns and cities have specific rules about keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. The goal is to ensure safe passage for everyone, especially those who are walking to work, school, or running daily errands. For instance, some local ordinances require homeowners to clear snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property within a certain timeframe after the snow stops falling. Failing to do so can not only put pedestrians at risk but also lead to fines.

Parking Regulations

During snow events, many areas enforce special parking rules to make way for snow plows and emergency vehicles. These can include alternate side parking, temporary no-parking zones, and even complete bans on street parking during heavy snowfall. It’s important to stay informed about these regulations to avoid penalties and ensure that snow removal crews can do their job effectively, keeping roads safe and passable.

Compliance

Compliance isn’t just about avoiding fines; it’s about contributing to the safety and well-being of your community. Keeping up with local snow removal laws ensures that emergency services can respond without delay, public transportation can keep running, and everyone can move about safely.

Regulations can vary greatly from one municipality to another, so check with your local government to understand the specific requirements in your area. Often, these details are available on city or town websites, providing easy access to the information you need to stay compliant.

By being mindful of local snow removal laws and regulations, you’re not only adhering to the letter of the law but also demonstrating consideration for your neighbors and community members. Whether you’re clearing snow yourself or enlisting the help of professional residential snow removal services like Picano Landscaping, keeping these commandments in mind ensures a safer, more harmonious community throughout the winter months.

It’s also essential to consider the environmental impact of our snow removal practices, which we’ll explore in the next commandment.

Commandment 9: Consider the Environment

Winter’s beauty can quickly become a nuisance as snow piles up, necessitating removal for safety and accessibility. However, traditional snow removal methods often overlook the environmental impact. Let’s dive into how we can address this with smarter, eco-friendlier choices.

Reducing Salt Usage

Salt is the go-to de-icer for many, thanks to its effectiveness and low cost. But did you know that excessive salt can harm plants, degrade soil, and contaminate water sources? It’s a tough balance to strike—ensuring safety while minimizing environmental harm.

Tip: Use salt sparingly. Combine it with sand to improve traction without needing to increase salt quantities. This small adjustment can significantly reduce the environmental footprint of your snow-clearing efforts.

Alternative De-icing Methods

Seeking alternatives to traditional salt-based de-icers can make a big difference. Products containing calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) are less harmful to vegetation and concrete surfaces, making them a preferred choice for those mindful of their environmental impact.

Eco-friendly alternatives include:

  • Beet juice: When mixed with salt brine, it reduces the amount of salt needed.
  • Coffee grounds: They provide traction and a bit of melting capability due to their dark color absorbing sunlight.
  • Sugar beet juice: Lowers the freezing point of water, similar to salt, but with less environmental damage.

Incorporating these alternatives can help protect the surrounding ecosystem while keeping areas safe for passage.

Snow Disposal

Where you pile snow can be just as important as how you remove it. Avoid dumping snow near water bodies to prevent pollutants from entering the ecosystem as the snow melts. Instead, choose a location where the meltwater will be filtered through soil before it reaches any waterway, aiding in the natural removal of contaminants.

Remember: The goal is to minimize the impact on the environment while maintaining safety and accessibility. This means being mindful of both the materials we use and their application.

By adopting these environmentally conscious practices in residential snow removal, we contribute to a healthier planet. It’s about making informed choices that benefit us today and preserve the environment for future generations. For those seeking expert guidance and execution of eco-friendly snow removal techniques, professional services like Picano Landscaping offer the expertise and equipment to manage winter’s challenges responsibly.

As we wrap up our exploration of eco-conscious snow management, it’s clear that every action, no matter how small, contributes to a larger impact. Let’s carry this awareness into our final commandment, highlighting the undeniable value of professional assistance in navigating the complexities of residential snow removal.

Commandment 10: When in Doubt, Hire Professionals

In the thick of winter, when snow blankets your property in a relentless white, the task of snow removal can seem daunting. This is where the expertise of professionals comes into play. Let’s dive into why enlisting the help of seasoned experts not only eases your burden but also enhances safety and efficiency.

Benefits of Professional Services

  • Efficiency: Professionals come equipped with the right tools and machines, like commercial-grade snow blowers, to clear your property quickly and efficiently. Unlike the shovel in your garage, these tools can handle vast amounts of snow without breaking a sweat.

  • Safety: Expert teams understand the nuances of snow removal, including the identification of ice under snow, ensuring walkways and driveways are not just clear, but safe for passage. This reduces the risk of slips and falls.

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that a reliable team will show up, no matter the weather, provides a sense of security. You won’t have to scramble to clear snow before heading to work or worry about the buildup when you’re away.

Time-Saving

The most immediate benefit you’ll notice is the gift of time. Snow removal is time-consuming, often requiring hours of hard labor. Professionals can accomplish the task in a fraction of the time, freeing you to focus on your day-to-day activities without the looming dread of snow removal.

Expertise

Professional snow removal teams are not just about brute force; they bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. They:

  • Understand the right techniques to prevent damage to your driveway or landscaping.
  • Know how to efficiently clear snow without leaving behind dangerous ice patches.
  • Can advise on the best de-icing products for your property’s specific needs, balancing effectiveness with environmental concerns.

Snow Removal Expertise - residential snow removal

Moreover, professionals are adept at navigating the challenges of heavy snowfall, equipped with contingency plans for the most severe weather conditions. Their experience ensures that your property remains accessible and safe, regardless of what winter throws your way.

In Summary

When the snow begins to fall, and the task of removal becomes a significant burden, remember this commandment: When in doubt, hire professionals. The benefits of professional residential snow removal services—efficiency, safety, time-saving, and expertise—are undeniable. By choosing a reputable and experienced provider like Picano Landscaping, you can rest assured that your property is in good hands, allowing you to enjoy the winter season without the added stress of snow removal.

As we transition from our exploration of the commandments, let’s address some common questions homeowners have about residential snow removal. This will ensure you’re fully equipped to manage winter’s challenges responsibly and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions about Residential Snow Removal

When it comes to residential snow removal, there are a few questions that pop up more often than others. Let’s dive into some of these to give you a clearer path through the snow.

FAQ #1: How often should I remove snow from my driveway?

Answer: It’s best to remove snow as soon as it accumulates. Waiting can lead to packed snow and ice, making removal harder and more time-consuming. If snow is expected to fall continuously, try to shovel a few times throughout the storm to prevent heavy accumulation. This not only makes the task easier but also minimizes the risk of ice forming underfoot, which can be a hazard.

FAQ #2: What are the best eco-friendly de-icing products?

Answer: Eco-friendly de-icing products are a great alternative to traditional rock salt, which can harm plants and animals. Look for products containing calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), which is less corrosive and safer for the environment. Another good option is beet juice mixtures, which lower the freezing point of water and are less harmful to vegetation and pets. No matter what product you use, moderation is key to minimize environmental impact.

FAQ #3: Can heavy snowfall damage my landscaping?

Answer: Yes, heavy snowfall can damage your landscaping, especially young, fragile, or evergreen plants. The weight of snow can break branches and compact soil, potentially harming root systems. To protect your plants, gently brush off snow accumulation using a broom or your hand. Avoid shaking the branches, as this can cause more damage. For delicate plants, consider using wooden stakes or cloth barriers to shield them from heavy snow.

As we wrap up our FAQs, managing snow efficiently is all about preparation, using the right tools and products, and being mindful of the environment and your property. If you’re ever in doubt about handling snow removal yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals like Picano Landscaping who have the expertise to keep your driveway clear and your landscaping safe throughout the winter season.

Conclusion

We’ve journeyed through the 10 Commandments of Residential Snow Removal, each guiding us to manage the snowy season effectively and safely. Let’s quickly recap:

  1. Know Your Equipment: Understanding the tools at your disposal is crucial.
  2. Plan Ahead: Being prepared can make all the difference.
  3. Use the Right De-icing Products: Choose materials that are both effective and safe for your surroundings.
  4. Clear Snow Early and Often: Don’t let snow build up to problematic levels.
  5. Employ Proper Shoveling Techniques: Protect your back and your health.
  6. Protect Your Landscaping: Keep your greenery safe under the snow.
  7. Ensure Safe Walkways and Driveways: Prevent slips and falls.
  8. Be Mindful of Local Snow Removal Laws: Stay compliant with local regulations.
  9. Consider the Environment: Opt for eco-friendly options when possible.
  10. When in Doubt, Hire Professionals: For peace of mind and top-notch results, turn to the experts.

The importance of regular snow removal cannot be overstated. It’s not just about keeping your property looking its best; it’s about safety, accessibility, and preventing damage. Snow and ice can pose significant risks to both people and property, making timely and effective removal essential.

This is where Picano Landscaping comes into play. With years of experience and a commitment to excellence, we’re here to ensure that your residential snow removal needs are met with professionalism and expertise. Our team is equipped with the latest technology and equipment, ready to tackle the challenges of the winter season head-on.

Choosing Picano Landscaping means opting for a worry-free winter, where your driveways and walkways are clear, your landscaping is protected, and your safety is prioritized. We understand the nuances of snow removal and are dedicated to providing services that not only meet but exceed your expectations.

As we brace ourselves for the snowy season ahead, regular snow removal is key to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment. And when the task seems daunting, know that Picano Landscaping is just a call away, ready to assist with top-tier residential snow removal services. Let us take the burden of snow removal off your shoulders, so you can enjoy the beauty of winter without the hassle.

Winter doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the right approach and the help of professionals like Picano Landscaping, you can navigate the snowy months with ease and confidence.

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