Under 2 hours
Snow removal equipment such as snow blowers can make clearing the white stuff easier and save your back if you have a long driveway and sidewalk. Learning how to use the snow blower – sometimes called a snow thrower – before the first snowfall will reduce the strain of the task even more.
This guide teaches you how to use a snow blower efficiently and includes tips for operation, maintenance and safety.
Develop a Plan
Have a plan when you head out to remove snow from your sidewalk or driveway. The process is similar to mowing a lawn; make a back-and-forth pattern to clear the snow from the area.
- Consider where you want to throw the snow, and determine whether the snow blower will discharge to both sides or only one side of the driveway. Never blow the snow toward the home, vehicles or people.
- Avoid blowing snow into the street. This poses a danger to motorists and can create additional work for you, as passing snow plows could push it back onto the sidewalk.
- Pay attention to the wind when deciding the direction to discharge snow. Even a small breeze can assist, or hinder, your efforts to clear snow from your work area.
Tip: If your area is prone to regular deep snowfall, use flags or spikes as reference marks along the edge of paved surfaces to prevent getting off-track while using the snow thrower.
Be sure to follow the operation procedure for your particular snow blower. Understand its controls for steering and chute direction as well as the auger and drive clutch before using the machine.
- Ensure that the engine has an adequate amount of fresh stabilized fuel and oil if it is gas-powered.
- Check tires for proper air pressure, if equipped with the inflatable variety.
- Inspect belts, shear pins, skid shoes and the scraper blade for proper installation.
- Have appropriate workwear for the weather and for safety.
- Remove any debris from the area such as fallen sticks or delivered newspapers.
Tip: Assemble a spare snow blower parts kit during the off-season. Having extra shear pins, a set of belts and the tools to replace them can prevent untimely trips to the store on snow-covered roads.
Operate the Snow Blower
When possible, use the snow blower before the snow stops falling if significant accumulation is expected. Making multiple passes – while taking more time – can be easier and often gives better results than trying to clear a heavy snowfall with just one attempt.
- Wear safety glasses.
- Start the snow thrower and position it for the first pass.
- Adjust the direction of the discharge chute.
- Engage the drive control to begin forward motion and the auger lever to begin throwing.
- At the end of the first cleared path, disengage the auger and drive lever.
- Adjust the discharge chute as necessary for the parallel return pass.
- Engage the controls to continue clearing the snow.
- Do not overload snow thrower capacity by attempting to clear snow at too fast of a rate. Slow and steady operation is best to avoid clogs of snow being impelled too rapidly.
- Run the blower at full speed but with slower forward motion for wet, heavy snow.
- Also, make more passes taking smaller bites in deep snow. Position the machine so that it collects less than the full width of the opening to maintain the throwing power.
Tip: Non-stick spray for outdoor power equipment coats the chute and auger just like a cooking spray, shielding the metal to help prevent clogging.
Practice Good Maintenance
Regular seasonal maintenance is essential for keeping your snow thrower in good condition for years to come. Follow the schedule in the owner’s manual for your machine. Here are some general guidelines and tips for snow blower maintenance before, during and after the cold weather season. Electric snow blowers will not have the same gas and oil considerations.
- Change the oil, replace the spark plug and any belts that show fraying, cracks or other damage.
- Check clutch levers and cables.
- Sand and repaint any rusted areas. Then apply car wax to protect the finish and also repel snow and water.
- Wax the inside of the chute to help reduce clogging.
- Lubricate parts according to the owner’s manual.
During the season:
- Always use fuel stabilizer throughout the winter to prevent the gas from breaking down, which can lead to clogged injectors and fuel lines.
- Wipe down the snow blower and auger housing after each use to prevent rust.
- Check belts for any damage.
- Tighten any loose bolts.
- Drain all fuel at the end of the season. Use a syphon to remove the gas from the tank or run the engine until the tank is emptied.
- Follow lubrication guidelines found in the owner’s manual.
- Wipe down the machine with a wet cloth to help prevent salt stains and corrosion. Spray metal with a rust prevention or an engine storage spray.
- Use fogging oil to protect internal engine parts during long-term storage. Follow package instructions for proper use.
- Store the snow blower inside of a garage or storage shed and away from the elements.
Use the Snow Blower Safety
- Never attempt to unclog the snow blower with your hands, even if wearing gloves. Only use a chute clean-out tool or the long wooden handle of a broom, for example, to remove obstructions.
- Use eye protection during operation and do not wear loose clothing, such as an unwrapped scarf, while using the snow thrower.
- Keep hands and feet away from all rotating parts, the collector, auger and chute assembly.
- Surfaces can be slippery. Use caution when changing directions or operating on slopes.
- Let the snow blower engine cool before refueling. Take a rest of at least five minutes when the tank runs dry and then add more stabilized gas to the tank.
- Do not start a gas-powered snow blower engine inside of a garage to avoid carbon monoxide exposure.
- Keep both hands on the snow blower while operating the machine, and do not let the engine run unattended.
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