For most of us who live in a state with four seasons, you know the dread that starts to creep in every December. Trust us when we say that it’s pretty hard to sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with a straight face when you’re shoveling snow for hours on end.
Winter is coming, and with it, comes a slew of snow, sleet and slush. If you’re not seasoned with the season of snow, we’ve got five hacks for snow removal that will blow your mind, and hopefully, your snow!
Get the Right Shovel
If you choose to go down the shoveling route, the first hack for snow removal is to make sure you have the right shovel.
A lightweight plastic or aluminum blade, coated with a nonstick finish, is your best bet, according to This Old House. Based on which surface you’re shoveling, such as wood decking, make sure you’re using the correct blade material, like plastic blades for softer materials.
Additionally, you’ll want a shovel that has an ergonomic, S-shaped shaft. This will protect your back from strain and require less bending when you’re shoveling.
Best practices for shoveling snow are to only remove as much snow as you’re comfortable with lifting. Back injuries and falls are common this time of year, so it’s best to only take on what you can handle.
That being said, This Old House recommends shoveling several times, even when snow is still falling, so that the snow doesn’t bond to surfaces like your driveway, sidewalks or deck. Additionally, it’s a lot easier to shovel two inches rather than five, so stay on top of snowfall to prevent pileup and back injuries from lifting.
Wipeout Snow Windrows as They Appear
Speaking of pileups, you probably didn’t think there was a fancy term for the pile of snow left at the bottom of your driveway after the snow-plow passes through your street. And if you did, it’s probably not fancy or a word we can use on this blog!
However, snow windrows are very real and even more annoying. If left unattended, you’ll be unable to pull out of your driveway without getting stuck.
There are a few ways to combat the buildup of snow at the end of your driveway, but the best is just to get rid of them as they appear.
Much like tackling snowfall, inch by inch as it comes, make sure you clear your snow windrow as soon as you can. Leaving it will risk it fusing together and making it difficult to shovel. Especially if it’s a sunny day – leaving your snow windrow unshoveled on a warm, sunny day could possibly result in the snow melting and later freezing into solid ice.
The best practice is to shovel your snow windrow as soon as possible and only lift as much as you’re comfortable with, protecting your back and neck from strain.
Using a Snow Blower is Faster
Now that we’ve covered best practices and products for shoveling, let’s talk about a much faster method for snow removal – using a snow blower.
According to This Old House, using a snow blower is by far faster when clearing large, flat areas. The site recommends using one where there’s a minimum of two inches of snow on the ground.
Speed is also a factor for snow blowing, according to Consumer Reports, as going too slow will shorten your arc of blowing snow and going too fast will cause snow to spill through the side of your machine. Make sure you test out a good speed before beginning.
The best practices for clearing snow is to start in the middle of the surface you’re clearing, blowing the snow toward one edge of the driveway. Make a U-turn, as you come to the end of each pass, and come back down the opposite side. This alternation will prevent you from throwing snow on top of pavement that’s already cleared.
Of course, you need to consider the upfront cost to buy a snow blower, which includes fuel an basic maintenance costs. You just need to decide if you have the money and want to spend it for the convenience of not having to manually lift snow.
However, Make Sure You Get the Right Snow Blower
While snow blowers can be a helpful tool for removing snow in winter, make sure you know how to use it and in which circumstances to use it.
How to Use a Snow Blower on a Gravel Driveway
For example, if you’re using a snow blower on a gravel driveway, you may run the risk of sucking up rocks and throwing them all over your (or your neighbor’s) lawn. This can be hazardous as flying gravel can hit cars, windows or even your next-door neighbor themselves!
That being said, if you have a gravel driveway or sidewalks surrounding your home, Perfect for Home suggested a two-stage snow blower.
Essentially there are two types of snow blowers. Single-stage is designed to come into direct contact with the surface on the ground and is more ideal for paved surfaces.
Two-stage snow blowers allow you to adjust the height of the blades so that your blower is not coming into direct contact with the ground. You can also adjust the discharge shoot (the vessel that shoots out the sucked-up snow) to aim in a safe direction, away from cars, windows, people, etc.
How to Use a Snow Blower in Wet Snow
Additionally, if you’re using a snow blower in wet snow, there are a few techniques that you need to be aware of, as wet snow is heavier and can possibly cause more injuries if not handled correctly.
It can be tempting to take down wet snow full-speed ahead with your snow blower. However, when dealing with wet snow, it’s actually safer to move slower and take in less snow at a time. Moving too quickly on wet snow can cause your snow blower to clog and the machine to wear out.
The best practice for wet snow removal using a snow blower is to move slowly and take smaller sections of snow in each pass, about one-third to one-half the width of the machine, suggested Family Handyman. It’s a lot easier for the machine to take in and it also allows for it to throw the snow farther, preventing the snow from falling into your freshly blown path.
Rock Salt is Your Best Friend
Lastly, while this is not necessarily a snow removing tip, it is a best practice for dealing with snowy or icy pathways.
Rock salt is relatively cheap, said The Old House. Using it on surfaces prone to ice and snow can be a great way to lower the risk of falls and injuries.
If you choose to use salt, This Old House suggested gloves when spreading salt or any deicer instead of by bare hand. If you are salting a larger area, you can also use a push spreader to cover larger surfaces at a quicker pace.
Lastly, make sure you store the deicers off the floor or in a sealed bucket, to keep them dry.
While salt is a common option for deicing, it can also be harmful to plants or grass in your yard. It’s also known to eat away at concrete in large quantities, resulting in an uneven surface and costly repair expenses.
If you’re looking for a less harmful and expensive way of providing traction to slippery surfaces, you can use sandbox sand or even cat litter to add traction to your driveway and sidewalks.
If you live in a state of four seasons, or just expect some snowfall this year, knowing these five hacks to remove snow are just one of the ways to get you through winter.
Do you have any hacks for snow removal? Let us know in the comment below!
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