Snow blower shopping considerations and tips
Should I buy a snow blower?
Deciding whether or not to purchase a snow blower depends on a few factors, including the snow frequency and average amount of snowfall in your location. If you live in an area that has a few snow storms a year with six inches of snow or more from each storm, a snow blower could be a helpful investment.
The size of your property is also important, especially if you have a large driveway, sidewalks, or stairs. Consider that it takes time to prep, use, and store the snow blower every time, and you’ll still have to shovel tight spaces like stairs or around cars. You’ll get the most use out of a snow blower if it regularly takes your household more than half an hour to fully shovel your property.
What type of snow blower should I buy?
When buying a snow blower, you should first consider where you want the power to come from. There are three main sources: gas, corded electric, and cordless electric or battery.
- Gas snow blowers are the most popular, most powerful, and most expensive option. They also typically need more maintenance than the other two options.
- Corded electric blowers are generally the least expensive and don’t pollute, but just like a corded lawnmower, you have to mind the cord as you work, and it’s not recommended for longer driveways due to the inherent cord-length limitations.
- Battery power avoids the cord problem, but batteries only last for so long before they need to be recharged. You can buy extra batteries so that you have enough to complete your job, but they are usually quite expensive.
Snow blowers are either single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage.
- A single-stage snow blower (also referred to as a snow thrower) has an auger that moves very fast and sends the snow flying out of the chute in one step.
- Two-stage blowers have augers that feed the snow into the chute where a propeller throws the snow.
- Three-stage blowers have augers that feed the snow into the center where it is chopped up and fed into the propeller.
Snow blowers with multiple stages tend to cost more, but they can also handle heavier-duty jobs and throw the snow farther.
How do you start a gas snow blower?
Each gas snow blower will have its own set of instructions from the manufacturer, but there are a few similarities across the board.
It’s important to try starting your snow blower a day or two before a snow storm hits — this way, you can troubleshoot as necessary before your driveway is under a foot of snow. It takes 10 minutes to do and can save you a lot of frustration.
If you have a gas snow blower, start it outside of your garage so there’s ventilation and safety in case of carbon monoxide and unpleasant fumes. And, if you need to add oil, it won’t stain your floor.
First, make sure your snow blower is in a neutral or off position. You never want to accidentally set off your snow blower until you’re absolutely ready.
Once that is set, make sure that there’s enough oil. To check the oil level, unscrew the oil stick that’s usually on the side of the engine and main body of the snow blower. Wipe it off, stick it back in, and then bring it back up for an accurate read — if it’s within the hatch marks noted, you’re good.
Then open the fuel tank and push your snow blower around a bit so the fuel will slosh around — you never want to smell it directly. If it’s low, top it off until it hits the max fill line. If you rarely use your snow blower, it’s a good idea to replace the gas with a siphon pump, according to Bob Vila.
Turn the throttle to full, open the fuel shut-off valve, and turn the choke knob to full — these are all going to be on the main body of the snow blower and are usually right next to each other.
Then prime the snow blower so the fuel goes into the carburetor and preps the engine — on most machines, this is going to be a button on the back or side that you’ll need to press a few times.
After you’ve primed the carburetor, pull the starter rope or press the ignition button to start the engine. Once you hear that roar, push your snow blower forward and start clearing the snow.
How do you start an electric or battery-powered snow blower?
This is more simple than a gas blower because it runs on battery.
If you have an electric snow blower, make sure it’s charged, then turn the throttle and choke to full. Prime the carburetor, and push the ignition or pull the rope to start. Unplug and you’re off.