It is getting closer to the winter season, and it is time to get prepared for snow removal. You have many choices for snow removal including the use of a snowblower. Big questions when determining which snowblower to buy are how well it will work and whether it will damage your driveway.
Snowblowers can damage concrete, asphalt, stone, and gravel driveways. Damage can be minimized by using the correct type of snowblower, replacing worn snowblower parts, and setting the correct auger depth.
Keep reading and I’ll share my experience with snowblowers. I will go through what to look for when purchasing a snowblower and how to minimize damage to your driveway.
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
Type of Snowblowers
The three most common types of snowblowers on the market today are the single-state, two-stage, and three-stage snowblowers.
Single Stage Snowblower
A single-stage snowblower picks up snow with the rotating augers that throw snow out the chute. This type of snowblower is best used for light to medium snowfalls.
The downfall of the single-stage snowblower is its augers touch the ground to pick up snow.
This scraping method used by rubber or metal augers will throw the snow about 10-20 feet. If the snow you are trying to move is heavy and/or you are blowing snow into the wind, you will experience less throwing distance.
Not having enough throw distance can double your work with a wide driveway not being able to throw snow across the distance of your driveway.
This could mean you may have to pick up the snow you just blew to the side and blow it a little further.
When calculating distance, remember you will be starting at the center of your driveway and working the snowblower outwards so you’ll only have to throw just over half the distance of your driveway.
A two-stage snowblower collects snow with the auger and pushes it to the chute. The snowblower uses an impeller to blow snow out of the chute allowing the snow to throw much further than the single-stage snowblower.
The two-stage snowblower is more expensive than the single-stage, but it has more power and can be used in deeper levels of snow. In addition, it can handle heavier snowfalls and is often self-propelled.
This style is a good choice if you live in an area that receives a good amount of snow greater than 8 inches or heavy snow throughout the winter season.
A three-stage snowblower is like a two-stage snowblower except it includes a high-speed third auger. This type of snowblower can throw snow up to 50 feet.
Most three-stage snowblowers are self-propelled making them easy to manage on inclines. This is the snowblower for you if you are looking to clear a lot of snow in a quick and efficient way.
Preventing Driveway Damage from a Snowblower
Driveways are a big investment whether it is concrete, asphalt, or gravel. Snow and salt can cause problems to the driveway. Adding a snowblower can also add further damage.
You most likely will not know exactly how much damage you caused to your driveway until spring arrives and the snow is gone.
Tips to Prevent Snowblower Damage on Your Driveway
Do Not Use a Single-Stage Snowblower
A single-stage snowblower does not have the ability to adjust the auger blade height. Snow is removed from the driveway with the auger digging into the ground to scrape the snow into the chute
The rubber or metal auger blades used on this snowblower dig into the hard surface often scuffing it, chipping the concrete, or cracking the asphalt.
The auger scraping along the ground also contributes to wear on the auger which often becomes damaged and must be replaced.
Adjust Auger Height
Most two-stage and three-stage snowblowers allow you the ability to adjust the auger height so it does not scrape the ground. It is best to have the auger set at least a ½ inch above asphalt or concrete driveways.
When using your snowblower to remove snow on a gravel driveway, you need to set the auger height to a minimum of 1 inch above the driveway to avoid running gravel through your snowblower.
Inspect Scraper Bars and Skid Shoes
Look at your scraper bar and skid shoes. Some people refer to the scraper bar as the snowblower’s cutting edge. If the scraper bar or skid shoes are worn or have chunks removed, you need to replace them.
The jagged edges left behind can catch on your pavement or concrete and cause damage.
This is especially bad if your asphalt driveway isn’t in good condition, to begin with and presents signs of cracking due to age. These sharp edges can catch on pieces of asphalt and break them off.
Adjust Scraper Bars and Skids Shoes to the Correct Height
Do not allow the scraper bars and skid shoes to cut into the ground as you are pushing your snowblower. You will need to adjust these items, so they ride above the ground and not into the ground.
Remove large rocks and debris in the area prior to snowfall
Before your first snowfall and in between snowfalls and snowstorms you need to look at areas you intend to clear with your snowblower to ensure there are no rocks or debris in the area.
Leaving rocks and debris in your driveway can cause quite a bit of damage.
Rocks, sticks, and other debris running through your snowblower can cause costly damage to your snowblower.
I have seen many impellers ruined from rocks accidentally picked up and running through the impeller and chute. With high-powered snowblowers, rocks can shoot out of the blower and chip the driveway.
How Do You Clean Your Driveway with a Snowblower?
You should clean your driveway with a snowblower by starting at the center edge of the driveway and working your way to the outside in a circular pattern.
Always have your chute pointed away from the direction you are making your turns so you do not blow snow in areas you already cleared. Continue the pattern until all snow is cleared.
Snowblower Path Chart: Start at the center of the driveway closest to the garage. Push the snowblower down the path marked as #1. Turn at the end of the path and continue down path #2.
Continue in a circular pattern following paths #3, #4, and #5. Continue the pattern until your driveway is clear of snow. Remember to keep the chute pointed in the opposite direction of your turning.
What to Consider When Buying a Snowblower
With so many options on the market today, it is hard to determine what snowblowers are of excellent quality and will hold up for many years.
I am going to share a few items that are important to consider when buying your snowblower.
Quantity of Snow and Type of Snowblower
A single-stage snowblower works well in light to medium snowfalls with snow accumulations of less than 8 inches.
A downfall of the single-stage snowblower is the auger scrapes the ground to collect snow which can damage the solid surface underneath the snow.
A two-stage snowblower is good for snow accumulations between 8 inches and 24 inches. It is designed to handle heavier snow and ice chunks.
It collects the snow in the chute and uses a propeller to discharge the snow.
A three-stage snowblower is an excellent choice if you want to clear snow faster than a two-stage snowblower will allow. Its third stage allows the snowblower to break down snow better and throw up to 50 feet.
This option is overkill for a small driveway, but perfect when you live in extreme snow areas or have a large area to clear snow.
Engine size does matter as it is the sole source of power for your snowblower. A larger engine offers better snowblower performance.
When you have the option to upgrade to a larger engine and financially can afford it, choose to buy the bigger engine. You will not regret this choice.
An adjustable auger is a necessity for any snowblower you choose to buy.
Being able to adjust the auger blades so it sits above your driveway and not on the driveway will decrease the amount of damage your snowblower causes to the driveway surface.
Again, this is an option single-stage snowblowers do not have.
A self-propelled snowblower can make clearing your driveway less taxing on your body physically. A self-propelled snowblower assists in moving the snowblower forward.
This is a necessary option when you have areas of the incline where it will be tough to push a snowblower.
With an electric start unit, your snowblower will start with a turn of the key. This is so much easier than pulling on the starter rope until the engine starts. You don’t have to worry about flooding your engine with an electric start.
Chute Rotation & Pitch Option
Snowblowers come with a manual or electric chute rotation. Being able to use an electric chute option saves time when clearing your driveway of snow.
Without an electric chute rotator, you will have to manually rotate it by cranking a bar to the left or right to adjust the chute rotation.
Most people have to slow down as they hand-crank a manual snowblower chute. An electric chute rotator is not going to affect how well the snowblower operates. It is just a nice convenient feature to have.
Power steering is an option that works well when you are making a lot of turns with your snowblower. The snowblower is definitely easier to maneuver when you are making turns in heavy snow.
Having headlights on your snowblower may not seem like a big deal until you are out late in snow blowing your driveway during a snowstorm and you have a tough time seeing.
Trust me and find a snowblower with headlights or add lights to your snowblower. It is nice to be able to see what you are snow blowing.
Snowblower Maintenance and Care
We have more information on caring for your snowblower and fixing potential problems you experience as an owner of a snowblower. For help in any of the following areas please read our articles:
Right Gas for Your Snowblower
With so many options for fuel on the market today it is important to know what type of gas to use for your snowblower. We discuss fuel types, fuel storage, and fuel additive in “This is the Type of Gas Snowblowers Use”.
Adding Too Much Oil to Your Snowblower
Most people know it is important to not skip your engine oil changes for increased performance and life of your engine, but did you know adding too much oil to your engine can cause problems?
Read “Too Much Oil in Your Snowblower Can Cause Engine Damage”.