Need some quick advice on how to use your new snow blower?
Read up on these snow blower operating tips, so you'll be prepared to take on anything from a few inches to a few feet of snow.
Perform a Pre-Check
Check the following before you use your snow blower:
- Is the gas tank filled with fresh stabilized fuel, and is the oil filled to the proper level?
- Are the shear pins, skid shoes, and scraper blade installed on your two stage snow blowers?
- Have you cleared all foreign objects from your driveway/sidewalks?
- Are you wearing appropriate clothes that won't get stuck on any parts of the machine? Gloves, safety glasses, and bright colored clothing are recommended.
- Do you understand how to operate the controls, like the auger and drive clutch, chute controls, and steering levers. (Read Owner's Manual)
Discharging Snow - Plan Ahead
Similar to mowing the lawn, decide on a pattern or plan of attack, so you won't have to clear snow from an area twice.
Determine where you want to pile up the discharged snow, whether it's on one side or both sides of the driveway. Make sure you never blow snow in the direction of houses, cars, or other people.
Blowing snow into the street isn't always a smart idea either. First, it's dangerous for any passing cars. Second, if snow plow trucks regularly plow the streets, they'll push the snow right back onto your sidewalk.
*Hint: Wind direction can play a big part in deciding where to discharge snow. Nobody wants a face full of snow blowback.
Start the Snow Blower in a Ventilated Area
Before you start, make sure the auger and drive clutch are disengaged. Start your snow blower outside or in the garage with the door open, so the fumes won't overwhelm you.
Many snow blowers now come with an electric start option, which requires an extension cord to be plugged into an outlet.
Check your owner's manual for extension cord recommendations.
Use Both Hands
Once your snow blower is running, keep both hands on the machine as much as possible. This allows you to have quicker access to the controls. Plus it's safer, in case you begin to slip.
Many two stage snow blowers have a one-hand interlock feature, so you can drive the snow blower with one hand and rotate the chute with the other.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Clearing snow isn't a race. If you go too fast in heavy deep snow, you could clog the snow blower. Then you'd have to spend time cleaning it out or replacing a shear pin.
Set a steady pace based on the snow conditions, and make slow easy turns.
Turning a single stage snow blower is simple. It's like using a push lawn mower. One quick turn, and you're ready for the next pass. Don't forget to rotate the chute as needed.
Turning a two stage snow blower can be more difficult. Many people purchase snow blowers with the power steering option. This allows you to slow down or stop one wheel while making a turn.
To make a proper turn, disengage the augers, then squeeze the steering lever handle on the side you want to turn into. Again, be aware of the discharge chute direction before you make the next pass.
How to Clear on Gravel Surfaces
Clearing snow on a gravel surface with a single stage snow blower is dangerous, so it's best not to attempt it at all.
Since the auger paddles come into direct contact with the ground, you'll pick up stones and send them flying everywhere.
Use a two stage snow blower to clear gravel surfaces. It's recommended that you adjust the skid shoes or the height of the auger housing to a higher setting, so a thin layer of snow can be left on top of the gravel.
This prevents the augers from collecting the gravel and discharging it through the chute.
Snow Blower DON'TS
In all the excitement of operating your equipment, don't forget about these snow blower Don'ts.
- Don't leave a running snow blower unattended.
- Don't clean out the chute or augers with your hands or feet.
- Don't point the chute at buildings, cars, or people.
- Don't refuel while the engine is on.
- Don't start the snow blower in an enclosed area.
- Don't use the snow blower to clear anything other than snow.
Feel free to learn more about snow blower safety.
Finishing Touches: Wipe Down
Just like kicking snow off your boots before you step in the house, wipe down your snow blower before you put it away. This prevents you from having to deal with a watery mess in your garage.
With the engine shut off, use the cleanout tool or similar device to remove snow in the auger housing and discharge chute. Wipe any additional snow off of the snow blower.
If you have one, put down a snow blower mat to collect the melting snow and protect the surface from scratches.
Or try a can of Sno-Jet Spray to prevent snow from sticking to the parts of your snow blower.
Conclusion & Thoughts
The best piece of advice when learning to use new equipment is to read the owner's manual for more detailed explanations on how to operate certain parts and features.
So, when the next Winter storm comes, you'll be ready to get out there and try out your snow blowing skills.
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Article by: Turner Anderson