A snow blower is a heavy-duty machine used to remove snow from an unwanted area like your driveway or sidewalk. The snow blower doesn’t actually use air to blow away the snow; it makes use of an impeller or auger to push the snow out of the way. Snow blowers are a great investment, especially for people in areas that experience heavy snowfall during winter. Using a snow blower saves time and energy; it also saves you from the stress of using a shovel to move hips of snow. Snow blowers can either be gas-powered or electric, the gas-powered type is very common and can be fuelled with gasoline or diesel while the electric snow blower can be corded or run on a battery. Snow blowers come in various sizes; there are the small-sized and the large heavy-duty snow blower. The small-sized snow blower is commonly used by homeowners to clear out their driveway and can clear up only a few inches or centimetres of snow. The large-sized, on the other hand, are usually mounted on winter service vehicles, it can clear up snow that is about 6 feet deep. Using a snow blower is relatively straightforward and easy. In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips on how you can safely operate a snow blower.
How Does a Snow Blower Work
Snow blowers use an auger or impeller, which is a paddle mechanism at the front of the machine, to remove snow from an unwanted location. Snow blowers can be classified into two; single-stage and two-stage snow blower. The auger of a single-stage snow blower uses paddles to pull snow into the machine and then throws it out of the discharge chute while that of the two-stage pulls in snow, sends it to an impeller of very high speed before pushing it out of the discharge chute. The single-stage snow blower cannot be used on an unpaved ground because the auger has to be in contact with the ground, the two-stage, on the other hand, works well on unpaved ground since the does not need to touch the ground, it also handles deeper snow depth much better than the one-stage type. There are different types of snow blowers, among which is the gas-powered and electrical type. These types have a push button or a recoil start that turns on the engine of the machine; it also features a control lever that starts the auger allowing it to pull snow into the machine. The other types of snow blower are the three-stage blower which is similar to the two-stage, the corded and cordless electric snow blowers.
How to use a snow blower
A snow blower is quite easy to use; it requires patience and minimal skill level. When using a snow blower, there are some tips you need to keep in mind. Some of these are stated below
Check the body of the snow blower
The first thing to do before starting your snow blower is to check it for damages. This is necessary, especially if your snow blower has been in storage for a long time. Check all the parts of the machine and make sure things are in order. If there’s a need to repair any parts, do that before you start the machine.
Buy enough gasoline or diesel
If you are using a gas-powered snow blower, make sure to get enough gas for the machine. This is because clearing out or blowing heaps of snow uses a lot of energy and burns fuel fast. Get a large gas can to store a large amount of fuel. Also, purchase fresh gas because leftover gas from summer would not be enough.
Clear out any obstacle
Carefully look around the area you want to clear for any obstacles like toys, decorations or stones. Clear out anything that may clog the machine or hinder it from working. Try to picture the layout of your driveway or that area before the snowfall and remove any object that may exist in that area.
Think on a clearing pattern
This is a very important step; you need to pick a spot to deposit the snow. This helps you devise a clearing pattern and saves you from stress. Ensure that the site you choose to relocate your snow is not on the road or in anyone’s way. If you want to throw your lawn on both sides of your driveway, start by clearing up the centre and work your way towards the edges of that area, and if you want to deposit the snow at one side, start working on the opposite and work towards the side you want the snow to fall. If you want to relocate the snow to the right side of your driveway, start working at the left side and if you want to deposit it on both sides, start at the centre. Keep in mind that every time you turn the machine around when it reaches the end of the driveway, you have to turn the discharge chute 180 degrees so it can throw snow in the right direction. This is so you don’t throw snow in an area that has already been cleared. Devising a clearing pattern and sticking to it would save time, money and energy.
Slowly move the snow blower across your driveway
A snow blower can easily get clogged or damaged if it is not handled properly. Slowly and carefully push the snow blower and allow it to work. Don’t be in a hurry when using the snow blower and let it take the lead. A snow blower is a heavy-duty machine, and you need both hands to operate it, ensure that both hands are on the machine at all time. If your model comes with one-hand steering, make use of it and use the other hand to balance the dispensing chute. Using both hands to push the machine, stabilises it and improves its efficiency. Follow the clearing pattern you had previously devised and slowly push your snow blower across that path. Remember to turn the discharge chute in the right direction whenever you make a turn.
Clean your snow blower
After using your snow blower, you have to clean up the machine. You can use a cleaning tool to clean out any snow that may remain in the auger or dispense chute. Use a clean cloth to wipe the sides of the machine to get rid of the snow or residue that may be on the body of the snow blower. Cleaning up your snow blower helps to maintain it and keep it in good condition. Clean up any snow that may be at the top or base of the dispensing chute, so it doesn’t get frozen in that position. To avoid messing up your garage floor, put down a mat to collect the remaining snow that may wet the floor or melt onto it.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
Snow blowers are known to cause a lot of accidents and injury, especially if the snow is heavy or has accumulated into a large pile. Your safety is paramount when using the tool; below are some safety precautions you can follow to keep you from getting injured.
- Carefully read through the user’s manual before using your snow blower because some models have specific instructions that need to be followed.
- Do not start your snow blower in the garage. This is very important, especially if you use a gas-powered snow blower. These gas-powered models operate by undergoing a combustion process, thus producing carbon monoxide, which is very dangerous to your health. Start your snow blower on your driveway or in an open area.
- Don’t wear any loose clothing when using the machine. Wear fitted clothes that can’t get caught up with the moving parts of the machine.
- Gas-powered snow models are very noisy. If you have this type, ensure you cover your ears when using the machine. Wear earplugs or any kind of hearing protection to protect your ear from the noise.
- Footwear is very essential when clearing out snow. You don’t want to wear shoes that are slippery or not well balanced. Opt for sturdy shoes or shoes with spikes to reduce the risk of slipping when using the machine.
- Snow blowers constantly vibrate when in use, it is possible for some bolts or pins to loosen or fall out. Before using the machine, inspect it for any loose bolts or pins. If you find any loose bolts, tighten it before starting the engine.
- If your snow blower clogs, do not use your hands to unclog it. Turn off the machine and make sure the blades are not rotating before clearing the clog. Use a stick or clearing tool to unclog it.
- Keep your hands and feet away from the moving parts of the machine.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Snow Blower
Size of your driveway
The size of your driveway is a significant determinant factor when buying a snow blower. A single-stage snow blower has a clearing width of about 18 to 22 inches which is appropriate for homes with small or medium-sized driveways. The single-stage snow blower is small and compact enough to fit into the small corners of your driveway. The two-stage and three-stage snow blower is best used on larger driveways because it has a broader clearing width of about 24 – 48 inches which allows it clear up that area in a short time. They are also suitable for hilly or uneven terrain.
Amount of snow
If you live in an area prone to snowstorms or heavy snowfall, you should consider getting a snow blower with a powerful engine. The two-stage and three-stage snow blower have very powerful engines and are better at moving large, heavy mounds of snow. Single-stage snow blowers are ideal for a light snow that are less than 6 inches.
Electric or gas-powered
The electric and gas-powered models are two of the types of snow blowers available on the market. The electric model can either work on a battery or use a cord while the gas-powered runs on gasoline or diesel. They both have their limitations and disadvantages, and choosing between these two depends on your preference. The gas-powered model is noisy and emits a lot of smoke while the power cord of the electric type limits your mobility.
Snow blowers are heavy-duty machines that come in handy during winter periods. It is most needed in areas that experience heavy snowstorms and may need to clear out their drive or walkway frequently. Using a snow blower is not a difficult task, follow the tips and instructions provided in this article to learn to use a snow blower.