The severity of this winter has surprised many parts of the country. With more storms on the way, many homeowners are better preparing themselves, stocking the garage with everything necessary to handle snow and ice. These tools are readily available in stores; it's only a matter of knowing which are essential to own.
For manual snow removal around the house, the experts recommend that you employ a mix of shovels, pushers, scoops, rakes, and scrapers.
“Use a shovel to lift and throw snow that is too deep or heavy to bulldoze using a pusher. A pusher is best for drier, lighter snow that can be efficiently bulldozed off the sidewalk or driveway without the 'scoop-and-throw' motion of a shovel,” says Joe Saffron, senior director of marketing at Ames True Temper.
“A roof rake helps clear heavy snow from a rooftop in order to avoid structural damage to your home. Some (like the True Temper telescoping roof rake) allow for quick extension and easy reach, without the need to get out the ladder,” Saffron continues.
“A scraper should be on hand to remove stubborn ice from surfaces. While on the road, you should have a shovel in the trunk of your car to help dig out your tires if you get stuck. Collapsible shovels, like the True Temper Autoboss, are a great option for easy storage.”
When shopping, prioritize safety and ease of use. Test tools before purchasing to be certain they are comfortable and amenable to the techniques you prefer. When shoveling, remember to stay warm and hydrated. Also, try not to push yourself too far beyond the limits of your normal physical activity: “As shoveling is not an everyday task, it is easy to strain muscles and joints when stooping and lifting in ways you do not normally move,” Saffron says. Be kind to your body and “look for ergonomic features, such as multi-point grips, elliptical-shaped and curved handles, and wide-mouth blades.”
Heavier snow calls for heavier equipment. That's where snow throwers come in. Of course, there are many makes and models from which to choose. If you are shopping for a snow blower, consider a variety of factors-the type of surface you will be clearing (i.e., concrete or gravel), the shape and length of your driveway and/or walkway, and how much snow your geographical area typically receives (as well as what consistency that snow is).
“A single-stage snow thrower like the Troy-Bilt Squall 2100 is best for clearing midsize driveways in areas with snowfalls of six inches or less. And it's most appropriate for paved surfaces like sidewalks and patios,” says Barbara Roueche, senior manager, marketing communications, MTD Products. “Generally, a single-stage snow thrower is lightweight and easy to maneuver.”
“A two-stage snow thrower like the Troy-Bilt Storm 2840 consists of serrated augers that break up ice and snow. These models throw snow quicker and farther than a single-stage thrower,” Roueche continues. “A two-stage thrower is best for clearing large driveways and heavy snowfalls, and its power-driven wheels can handle uneven and steep terrain.”
Whatever snow removal tools match your needs and family budget, be sure to read the owner's manual so that you understand how to properly and safely operate the equipment.
Finally, once you have managed to clear the snow away, think about investing in a low-tech solution to deal with slippery surfaces: a little bit of salt or sand can help increase traction, making approaches to and exits from your property much more manageable for family and guests.