Think you know all there is to know about using your snow blower? Think again! Just like any other piece of power equipment, you can blunder through the task and get it done, or you can do it quickly, efficiently, and with the best possible results. And learning how to snow blow your driveway efficiently isn’t rocket science. Get the job done in minimal time and with beautiful results!
1. Check the wind.
See which way the wind (and the snow) are blowing. You’ll end up doing the job twice if the snow blows back onto the areas that you’ve already cleared. If there’s no wind, all the better!
2. Plan your route.
On a traditional, rectangular-shaped driveway, it’s usually best to go lengthwise rather than widthwise to minimize awkward turns. If it’s windy, start in the upwind direction and work in the direction it’s blowing (figure 1). If there’s no wind (or very little), you can work in a circular pattern and keep the snow chute in the same position the whole time (figure 2).
3. Plan where you want the snow to build up.
Snow blowers have to blow the snow somewhere, so plan where you want that ‘somewhere’ to be. Maybe it’s your front yard, a neighbor’s yard, or another unused area. Depending on the snow blower that you have, you may be able to blow your snow only a few feet, or as many as 50 feet out. Check what your snow blower’s capabilities are and plan accordingly. Ideally, you’ll want to blow the snow as far as possible to avoid large snowbanks that spill back onto the driveway.
Skid shoes (also called skid plates) are small metal pieces that drag along the ground as you use your snow blower, keeping the machine’s auger from directly hitting your driveway. If you have a paved driveway, you can put the skid shoes on their lowest setting, allowing the auger to blow as much snow as possible, and leaving you with a really clean surface. For gravel driveways, though, you’ll want them a bit higher. This will keep the gravel from becoming displaced as you push the machine around, and will save you from throwing gravel as you work.
5. If your snow blower gets clogged…
If your snow blower auger or chute becomes clogged, DO NOT use your hand or foot to try to unclog it. Instead, turn the machine off, wait at least 10 seconds, then use a broom handle or other pole-like object to unclog it. Many snow blowers come with a tool specifically for unclogging clogs.
6. Shovel last.
I know what you’re thinking: “I bought a snow blower so I wouldn’t have to shovel anymore!” It’s likely that you’ll still have to shovel narrow walkways, steps, the front porch, and other tight spots that are inaccessible to your snow blower. Save these for last, as you may inadvertently blow some snow onto them as you do the driveway. No need to shovel them twice!
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