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After the first winter storm hits, you may be trying to decide if you want to keep using your old snow shovel or invest in a snow blower for winter snow removal. Whether you’re jealous of your neighbor across the street who cleared their driveway in half the time it took you, or you’re a recent empty-nester with no teens to help you clear the driveway, now might be the time to purchase a snow blower. Learn more about the benefits of using a snow blower over a snow shovel as well as snow blower maintenance, to decide if power snow removal equipment is what you want for your driveway.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Snow Shovel
If you’re looking for a good workout at 5 AM on a wintery morning, a snow shovel is the right tool for you. You just may not want to have that workout every day, especially if you have an unexpectedly heavy snowfall that makes you late for a meeting. Plus, if you have health concerns or don’t use proper technique and stretch before and after you shovel, you could risk injury or heart problems.
Snow shovels are great snow removal equipment for short driveways, decks or pathways around your yard, but using a snow shovel on a long driveway or to clear heavy snow keeps you outside for an hour or more after each snowfall. This often means getting up early to get it cleared before work, and sometimes clearing it again between work and dinner. If you are using a snow shovel, you’ll also need to stay hydrated, rest frequently and wear layers so you can stay warm without overheating. But, if you live in an area with light and infrequent snowfall, a snow shovel may be your best option based on ease of storage and affordability.
Benefits of a Snow Blower
Snow blowers do have two disadvantages when compared to snow shovels. They’re more expensive, and they require annual maintenance to keep them up and running. However, snow blowers are better for your back, better for your heart, and they reduce the time you’re out in the cold. The speed and efficiency of a snow blower means you can get out and get the driveway cleared quickly before work or holiday visits (even if you wake up to a few unexpected inches).
Plus, they require much less physical exertion than snow shovels and you can order snow blower accessories like snow cabs, tire chains, work lights, skid shoes and drift cutters to make your job even easier. So, if you often receive a heavy, wet snowfall over four inches, have a long driveway, are older, have health concerns, or just want to spend more time with family and less on chores, a two-stage snow blower is a better choice than snow shovel.
Despite the higher price point and necessary snow blower maintenance, properly cared-for power snow removal equipment lasts for years and cuts down the time and energy it takes to clear your driveway. The ease of clearing snow with power snow removal equipment might even prompt you to clear your sidewalk or neighbor’s driveway. Who knows, you might get some cookies in return!
Snow Blower Maintenance Tips
To keep your machine in pristine condition, make sure you do routine snow blower maintenance each fall. Change the oil, check the oil and air filters, change spark plugs, inspect belts, tighten bolts and lubricate parts to ensure your power snow removal equipment is ready for old man winter. Do this early enough in the fall to order replacement snow blower parts for the upcoming season if necessary. Before each use make sure your snow blower has a full gas tank. Since the machine needs to be cool before refueling, you don’t want to be in the middle of the driveway when you have to stop and wait.
Snow Removal Tips When Using a Snow Blower
Before your first major storm with a new snow blower, do a test start to make sure everything is running smoothly. Spray the chute with a non-stick spray to reduce the chance that thick snow will clog it up, and never use your hand to unclog the chute, or try to unclog it while it’s running. When removing snow with a snow blower, be sure to clear the path of any objects that could damage the machine or your property if they are picked up by the snow blower. Finally, when using the snow blower, clear snow up and down the driveway rather than across it, and avoid using it on steep slopes.