- Know which way the wind (and snow) blows. The first step in successful snow blowing is to blow snow with the wind, never against it. While this sounds simple, implementing this will ensure that you don't have to keep re-doing the same areas over and over. This direction may change often during a session, even during the same pass, so constantly adjust your approach accordingly.
- Once you have a handle on the wind, plan in advance where the snow will be piled up. Consider that the snow will need to be piled in the same areas each snowfall, so it may get very high over time. This height can present safety and security issues, so care needs to be taken to avoid making a mound of problems.
- Take into account your and your neighbor's need to see street traffic when piling snow at the end of your driveway. It may be necessary to divert piles to other parts of the yard to prevent sight obstruction.
- Be careful about piling snow against your house. Piling snow high against your home's foundation may lead to flooding problems when it starts to melt.
- Take weight of the pile into consideration if piling large amounts of snow on structures or plantings.
- Be mindful not to blow snow directly at buildings, vehicles, or into the street because the snow blower may pick up and throw rocks and other debris as well as DPW having to re-plow your street again.
- Keep kids in mind when piling up snow; be sure that there are no potential traps for them to fall into or from, and that the pile is not making it difficult to see kids walking around on the sidewalk, etc.
3. Decide on a pattern. You can waste a lot of time going over areas more than once as a result of not planning your clearing pattern well. Your best pattern will depend on wind speed and direction, how powerful your machine is (how far it is capable of throwing the snow), and the moisture content of the snow. Bear in mind that your goal is to throw the snow one time only.
Try to avoid throwing snow onto an area, especially in the street, that you'll be making a future pass over. Instead, always get the snow off the area to be cleared and onto its final resting area with each pass. This may be done with a left to right (or vice versa) pattern, or starting in the middle of the area and working each side alternately. Adjust the chute direction and height as often as necessary to get the snow to its final home with every single pass. Be diligent about this.
4. Prepare the snow blower. Be sure to check the condition of the snow blower before using it and check the following:
- Fill the machine with fuel before starting, to avoid breaking your routine and walking back to your garage just to re-fuel. This should be done outdoors to prevent vapor build-up. Do not add fuel to a hot engine; a snow blower's engine must be cooled down first.
- Check the machine's oil before every use (applies 4 cycle engines). Snow blowers can often burn oil without smoking, and the lack of the proper amount and/or correct type of oil can kill your machine quickly.
- Check that your own clothes are tucked in so that they can't get caught up in the blower and wear gloves to protect your hands and earplugs to minimize the noise, if needed. And even though it's not often talked about, safety glasses should be worn when snow blowing. It's very easy to get debris thrown back in your face under the right conditions. Finally, wear cleats to ensure that you don't slip over when handling the snow blower.
- If snow blowing near traffic, be aware that you might not hear traffic over the noise, so either keep a constant eye out or have a helper spot traffic and alert you, as well as wearing brightly colored clothing. Again do not blow snow into the roadway.
- Know how to use your snow blower correctly. Before using a snow blower for the first time, read through the user manual thoroughly. Once you're outside, adjust the snow blower chute to ensure that it will blow the snow in the direction you've chosen, but not into the street. Start the snow blower according the manufacturer's instructions and begin clearing the first path, keeping both hands on the snow blower at all times. Only clear ice and snow; slush can clog a snow blower.
- When snow blowing, always be careful to avoid obstructions such as hoses and taps, water features, statues, toys, branches, and cords, etc. These can become projectiles in the path of a snow blower.
- Ensure that there is adequate light to work by. If you need a spotlight, be sure to turn it on.
- While snow blowing, be aware that the machine can stop abruptly if it encounters cracks or uneven spots in the ground's surface. This may cause you to run into the machine's controls due to your forward momentum. Try to keep your arms extended a good distance from your body, to give you more reaction time if the machine stops moving forward abruptly due to unseen obstructions.
- Leave the shoveling for after the snow blower has had its way with your property. It's easier to use the power of the machine to remove 95 percent of the snowfall as efficiently as possible, and then clean up the porches and other areas inaccessible by the blower afterward. You should not slow the machine's operation just to avoid blowing snow on a previously shoveled area, as this is very counter- productive.
- Run the blower. At the end of using the snow blower, allow it to run for a few minutes to remove the snow build-up. This will help to dry it out before returning it to storage.