How to buy a snow blower?

snow blowerby Barb Hopkins

Snow may be beautiful to watch from indoors while sipping hot cocoa, but when it blankets the driveway, it’s not so pretty. A snow blower can help make the chore of clearing the driveway and sidewalks easier. To find the right snow blower machine for your needs, consider four basic factors.

Snow blower or snow thrower?

A snow thrower is a single-stage machine. This means it scoops the snow in a singular movement, pushing it out the chute. A snow blower is a two-stage or dual-stage machine. A snow blower has an auger to scoop the snow in the first stage. The auger sends the scooped snow to the impeller, which then blows the snow out the chute to complete the second stage. Depending on its size, a snow blower can remove heavy or even icy snow from the largest driveways.

Snow throwers typically are smaller and do not throw the snow as far. In addition, a snow thrower may lack the power to tackle the heaviest, wettest snowfalls. However, if your area only experiences lighter snowfalls, snow throwers usually are less expensive and may be the ideal choice.

Clearing width

How large is the area you need to clear? Do you have long stretches of walkways? If you don’t have a driveway but need to clear walkways only, consider a Sears snow blower such as the Craftsman single-stage electric start snow thrower with a 21-inch clearing width.

For homes with driveways, consider its size. A smaller driveway fits about four average-sized cars, while an extra large driveway can comfortable accommodate about 12. For medium to extra large driveways, consider snow blowers with at least a clearing width of 24 inches. The wider the clearing width, the fewer passes you need to make—less time spent out in the cold!

Electric or gas

Electric snow throwers work great for clearing light snow from sidewalks, porches, small driveways and patios. Because these machines usually weigh less, they also work great clearing lighter snow from decks or stairs. The electric models are quiet, but if your snow accumulation is moderate to heavy, consider a gas snow blower. Gas snow removal machines are available in single (snow thrower) or dual-stage models as well as varying widths. A 2-cycle gas engine uses a gas/oil mixture, while a 4-cycle engine does not require a mixture. The 4-cycle engine does need regular oil changes.

Safety features

When shopping for snow blowers, look for safety features such as a deadman switch or safety override. This shuts the machine off when the starter handle is released. LED headlights help light the way, enabling you to clear only snow and not rocks or other debris. Craftsman offers an EZ Steer feature to navigate sharp turns and relieve some of the fatigue clearing snow can cause.

Begin your snow blower search at Sears.com. Try the step-by-step snow blower finder guide. Simply select your driveway size and type, plus the amount and type of snow received. The guide will offer several snow blower suggestions to fit your individual needs. Need snow blower parts? Click on the tab Parts and Accessories for everything from auger belts to engine keys and spark plugs.

 

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  1. I have had a Sears snow thrower and it is fine as long as you don't need service. Two years ago I needed a drive belt replaced - a fairly major and common part for a unit like this. The service man that came to the house to repair the unit, knowing it needed a belt - did not have any on his truck and had to order the part which had a delivery of over 3 weeks. When the part came it was wrong so we went to the back of the line again. I finally ended up with two belts. This year I needed to replace the scrapper blade, of course nothing in stock in the city so it had to be ordered. Due to the holidays they could not get it out very fast. When I got it - actually ahead of the stated delviery date - I opened the box only to find it EMPTY. NOTHING IN THE BOX. I called Sears service (truly and oxymoron) I was told they would re-ship but "due to the holidays" delivery would take NINE days. Their fault, thier issue but no expidited delviery to make up for thier error. I have stopped buying Sears products that needed service since they have decided that service was not important in thier buisness plan.

  2. Attach a leaf blower to an AirJet Shovel and blow snow away. Search in Sear's catalog under airjet shovel. See shovel in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY3oYS9tfzU

  3. Good article on what I'll call "powered walk behind snow removal equipment".

    One feature to keep in mind is whether to buy a manual pull start or electric start. Let's face it, as we get older, getting the snow thrower started can become an issue. IMHO, spend the extra money for the electric start feature.

    IF the snow blower you buy has sheer pins on the auger, buy extra ones! NOTHING is more frustrating than having just a little more snow removal to do, sheer a pin, and have NO replacement sheer pins! NEVER USE ANYTHING BUT THE PROPER (ORIGINAL EQUPMENT) SHEER PINS! The drive mechanism is protected from overloading by a sheer pin so if anything else is used, a major (and expensive!) failure can be incurred.

    Beyond walk behind snow removal equipment are the tractor mounted units. I personally have owned about six tractor mounted snow blowers. IMHO, I would never advise anyone to put a snow blower on a lawn (LT) tractor because the tractor itself is not mechanically sturdy enough to operate the blower nor are they physically heavy enough to move it across the area to be cleaned. I STRONGLY advise anyone that wants a tractor mounted snow blower to bet a garden tractor (GT) for snow removal. Buy chains and wheel weights to go with it.

    One accessory that I found invaluable is a snow hood. TRUST ME, after having the snow that is being blown out of the snow blower blown back onto you is NOT fun! In my book, a snow hood or cab is a must!

    Maintenance: it is NOT an option whether or not to use fuel stabilizer or not! With today’s fuel that contains alcohol, YOU MUST USE FUEL STABILIZER! I put the stabilizer into my fuel can therefore I am always putting stabilized fuel into my equipment.

    When you are done with your snow removal equipment, clean it off leaving NO snow on it because it may contain salt = corrosion! Once you have it clean, spray all the blower area with either WD40 or cooking spray oil on it. This will help minimize the snow sticking on those surfaces the next time you use it. Also lubricate all moving surfaces with WD40 to remove any moisture.

    CHECK THE OIL and fuel levels BEFORE you start it up. Check the oil level when you’re done and between fueling it up. Replacement motors are EXPENSIVE so as mom used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” = you can’t check the oil level too much!

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