Winter is upon us and with winter comes the cold weather, ice, snow and frozen driveways. This is the time wherein we rely most on a single piece of equipment to keep us sane as we go about our day-to-day routines. The snow blower is a very essential piece of equipment every homeowner in Minnesota needs to have. Since Minnesota is known for its lakes and its winters. It is not uncommon to see hundreds if not thousands of motorists getting stuck in their driveways because the snow fell the previous night. Snow blowers are machines and in that concept they rely on our care and proper usage in order to function correctly. Here are some tips on how to use your snow blower in Minnesota.
Snow Blower Pre-check
In order to avoid a disastrous outcome where your only recourse is a snow shovel in order to clear your driveway it is vital that you have a pre-check of some important parameters such as:
Level of gasoline in the tank and oil filled to the correct level.
Check to see if there your driveway is clear of any debris that can damage the snow blower.
Better be clothed for the task at hand. Wear gloves, safety glasses and bright colored clothes so you can be seen.
Proper understanding of the snow blower’s features such as the auger, drive clutch, steering levers and chute controls.
Plan of Attack
Similar to mowing a lawn, you need to determine a pattern so you do not end up clearing the same area. Know also where you want to pile up the discharged snow, whether it is on one or both sides of your driveway. Practice proper snow blower etiquette by not blowing snow in the direction of nearby houses, pets, and cars and of course people. Moreover, it is also not right to just blow snow directly onto the street as well. In the event that a snow plow happens to be passing by, it will blow the snow right back to your property. Check the direction of the wind while you’re at it as the last thing you need is all that snow blowing back to your face.
Starting the Snow Blower
Prior to starting the engine it is important that the auger and the drive clutch are disengaged. Start the snow blower outside or if you need to start it in your garage, keep the door open so as to prevent the fumes from entering your lungs. A lot of snow blowers are equipped with an electric start option that needs a cord to be plugged onto an electrical socket. Do check your owner’s manual for instructions on this.
With Both Hands
Once the snow blower is steadily running it is vital that both your hands are kept on the machine at all times. This is so you can have better access to the controls as well as for safety reasons in case you start to slip. Similar to the electric start option many two stage snow blowers feature a one-hand interlock feature which gives you the ability to drive the snow blower effortlessly with just one hand and then rotate the chute with your other.
Haste Makes Waste
Some people think that clearing snow is somewhat a kind of race. Trouble is if you go in too fast in deep heavy snow chances are you will clog up the snow blower. This means wasted time trying to clean it or replacing a shear pin. “Haste makes waste” as the saying goes. Go at a steady pace and based on the current level of snow, make slow and easy turns.
When turning a single stage snow blower the experience is somewhat similar to pushing a lawn mower. A single quick turn and you are ready to begin the next pass. Just do not forget to rotate the chute.
On a two stage snow blower it can be a bit complicated. It is recommended to buy snow blowers MN featuring power steering, as this will allow you to slow down or stop one wheel while performing a turn. In order to make a correct turn all you need to do is disengage the augers and then squeeze the steering lever handle on the side you want to turn into. It is important that you are aware of the direction of the discharge chute prior to making the next pass.
Clearing Snow on Gravel Surfaces
Clearing snow on a gravel surface using a single stage snow blower is not recommended, as it is quite dangerous. This is because the auger paddles are in direct contact with the ground. The result is you will be picking up stones and then sending them flying in different directions. A two stage snow blower should be used when clearing surfaces with gravel. Adjust the skid shoes or the height of the auger to a higher setting so that a thin layer of snow can be left on top of the gravel. This will prevent the auger from snatching the gravel and discharging it via the chute.
When operating a snow blower it is vital that you keep in mind the following precautions to ensure safe use:
Turn it off when done and never leave it unattended.
Do not use either your hands or feet to clean out the augers or the chute.
Never point the chute at people, cars or houses.
Never add petrol when the engine is on.
Never start the snow blower in an enclosed space.
Do not use the snow blower for any other purpose other than what it is intended.
Always wipe down the snow blower before putting it away lest you want to deal with a watery mess afterwards.
Only clean the snow blower with the engine turned off.
Use a recommended cleaning solution to prevent snow from sticking to vital components of your snow blower.
Snow blowers are amazing pieces of equipment that make our lives easier during the wintertime. Always read the owner’s manual to learn more on how to operate and maintain your snow blower.