For homeowners, these machines are becoming more and more popular. Snow blowers can be powered by electricity, gas or diesel fuel. They are effective when the snow has not become impacted and will remove any loose snow. Sometimes a they are used in conjunction with a snow plow. A snow blower may be used to remove the loose, unpacked snow while the rest is removed manually with a shovel. It provides for a clean looking and presentable plowed area and takes a lot of strain away from the snow remover or home owner. In contrast to a snow plow, which uses force to push the snow either forward or to the side, a snow blower is used to redirect the snow to a different area. Some machines will have a manual control which will allow the user to direct where the snow should go while using the machine. These machines are classified as either single-stage or two-stage.
Single-stage machines use a single plastic or metal high speed blade that acts as an impeller. This forces the snow into the machine while moving it out the chute at the same time. The impeller, which can also be called the “fan”, is usually two blades that are curved with a similar shape to a paddle. The curve naturally draws the snow to the center of the machine where the base of the chute is located. Single-stage blowers are used for light snow removal and often require several “plows” over the same area.
Two-stage blowers have one or more augers that are made of metal. They run at a lower speed and are used to break up the snow before being forced into a higher speed impeller. Similar to the single-stage blower, the impeller forces the snow through the chute, however with much greater force. Two-stage machines are more common and are generally used for more complex snow removal situations. The range of power used for two-stage machines is quite considerable. They range from a few horse-power to over a 1000 horse-power. They are effective for removing a lot of snow quickly. Two-stage snow blowers are usually self-propelled by either tires, tires with chains and in some cases, tracks. Some also have the option of having a detachable face which can be exchanged with something such as a rotary tiller.
The augers that are found in two-stage snow blowers have what is known as a shear pin. This pin is used to prevent damage to the gears of the auger. In the event that a jam should occur the shear pin will break. This will prevent damage to the auger gears. However, once the pin has been broken it must be replaced. On most two-stage snow blower machines it is a simple process.
Every year there is over 5000 reported injuries. One common injury is a result of the auger jamming in the snow blower as a result of too much snow being forced into the machine. Foolish snow removal workers or homeowners are sometimes inclined to dislodge or clear the auger from being jammed by hand. In some cases this occurs while the snow blower is running. As a result, the auger 'jumps' back into its natural state very quickly creating a great potential for injury. The correct procedure is to first shut down the machine, disengage the clutch and use a tool such as the end of a broom handle to dislodge the auger. In recent years manufacturers have some to realize to potential for harm and as a result have implemented something known as the “Dead Mans Switch”. Essentially it acts to prevent the action of the auger in the event that the snow removal worker or home owner is not at the controls. Some municipalities and jurisdictions across North America require this by law.
Safety is key when operating a snow blower machine. Manuals should be read from front to back to ensure the machine is being used properly and in accordance with how it was designed. Maintenance and storage information from manufacturer, if used effectively, can prolong the life of a snow blower. While the traditional method of removing snow has always been a shovel a snow blower can save time, energy and potential back problems.