Winter Weather Preparedness: To Shovel, Scoop, or Blow the Snow?
The leaves have fallen, and have been raked and bagged. Now snow season is making its way down from the northern climes, and you'll soon have to shovel before you can walk in a winter wonderland. The act of snow removal shouldn't be taken lightly as it can be an onerous task for folks who aren't well-equipped. Get prepared for winter snow removal with just a few handy tools.
You may have grown up shoveling snow with a traditional snow shovel, one that once upon a time was also used for moving coal. This broad-scoop, short-handled type of shovel like the Neiko Tools Big Scoop Aluminum Snow Shovel with Soft Grip Handle ($32.99 with free shipping, a low by $7), pictured, will do the job. However, such shovels are ergonomic disasters; they require you to free-lift every scoop of snow and force you to work leaning over, putting a great deal of stress on your back.
Protect Your Back with the Proper Shovel
In addition to following the tips provided by Spine-Health.com for safe shoveling, you should opt for an ergonomic scoop shovel. The simplest of these shovels have a curved handle, allowing you to work in a more upright position and only requires you to lift snow slightly off the ground. The Suncast SC3250 18" Poly Snow Pusher/Shovel ($27.72 with free shipping, a low by $8) is a good example of such an ergonomic shovel.
Many of us prefer to shove — rather than lift — our snow, which is a viable alternative if you have an out-of-the-way place to pile it. A standard snow shover like the Suncast SF1850 22" Big Scoop Snow Shovel with Wear Strip ($39.99 with free shipping, a low by $12), pictured, will take a lot of the work out of shoveling, and the wear strip is a nice feature that will extend the life of your shover.
There are also larger scoops equipped with wheels, making the process of shoving large volumes of snow across pavement much easier. The Vertex Snow Shovel on Wheels ($59.97 plus $10.49 s&h, a low by $1) is just the tool for clearing your driveway quickly. The Snow Wolf Sw01310 Wheeled Snow Shovel ($129.95 with free shipping, a low by $37) features a 35" wheel that essentially acts as the fulcrum of a lever, allowing you to lift, move, and toss snow using the mechanical advantages of the lever and wheel. Talk about back-saving!
Skip Shoveling and Get a Snow Blower
Of course, the best back-saver is the snow blower. The quintessential winter weather machine (next to the plow) can do a better and faster job at clearing snow than the teenage kid from down the block, commissioned each time the sidewalk gets covered.
According to the experts at Snowblowersdirect.com, quality snow blowers should have
- An impeller to suck up the snow and blow it out the chute. Cheaper snow blowers aren't equipped with impellers, and don't discharge as well.
- An electric starter, to minimize aggravation.
- A powerful engine. The higher cubic centimeters, the better.
- Self-propulsion. You don't want to have to push the snow blower through the drifts.
- Width. A 24" bite is nice.
- Easy repositioning of the exhaust chute. You'll want to vary where you throw the snow, and this process shouldn't be difficult for you.
A unit that fits the above criteria is the Husqvarna 924HV Two Stage Snow Blower ($849.99 with free shipping, a low by $149), pictured. This blower has a 208cc 4-stroke engine (meaning you don't have to mix oil with the gas), an impeller, electric starter, six forward speeds and two reverse, and weighs 190 lbs. Yes, this is a serious piece of equipment designed to deal with serious snow.
While shopping for snow removal equipment, don't neglect your roof. A large buildup of snow there can present a danger to those walking under it. Heavy, wet snow can tear down your gutters and challenge the integrity of your roof. A roof rake like the Garelick 21-Ft. Roof Snow Rake ($59.99 with free shipping, a low by $1) allows you to to clear off snow from an overhang without having to climb a ladder.
Shoveling snow is no fun on a cold winter's night, but proper technique and good equipment will make the chore a little less intimidating. And there's a bright side to your efforts; those snow piles you create can be a great playground for your kids. If none of these styles pique your interest, be sure to check our Tools and Hardware section for future deals, or set up an email alert.
Front photo credit: Owl City Blog