Home Home & Patio Best Snow Blowers [Buying Guide] in 2019

Best Snow Blowers [Buying Guide] in 2019

by Jonathan Logtenberg
Snow Joe SJ621 Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower | 18-Inch | 13.5 Amp Motor | Headlights
Briggs & Stratton 1696619, 250cc
Greenworks Pro 80V 20" Snow Thrower w/ 2Ah Battery & Charger
Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower
Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower
Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower
Snow Joe SJ621 Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower | 18-Inch | 13.5 Amp Motor | Headlights
Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower
Briggs & Stratton 1696619, 250cc
Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower
Greenworks Pro 80V 20" Snow Thrower w/ 2Ah Battery & Charger
Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower

As the winter approaches, you think of things like ski trips and winter holidays like Christmas and Hannukah. But more practically, most of us in colder climates have to think about shoveling snow! Luckily here at Surf’n’Buy we have you covered. We’ve come a long way from the ’30s and ’40s, when clearing a large driveway of snow usually meant hours and hours of literally back-breaking work with a shovel. Even better, the gas motors from the past that were smoky and sometimes hard to start have been improved greatly. Electric motors, which for years suffered from a lack of power, or were hampered by their range because they were tied to a cord- have also been improved.

Whether you’ve got a small sidewalk or path to clear, or you’ve got a long driveway, road, or yard to get in shape, we’ll get you the snow blower that meets your needs. Here we’ll explain the differences between single, two- and three-stage snow blowers, and we’ll also discuss the advantages of both electric and gas motors. This way no matter what happens, you’ll get the machine that’s right for you and your needs. Going deeper into the guide, we’ll hopefully be able to give you some tips and tricks about owning a snow blower.

Now let’s take a buzz through Surf’n’Buy’s review of the top 3 snow blowers in 2019.

Top 3 Snow Blowers

1. Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower

Snow Joe SJ621 Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower | 18-Inch | 13.5 Amp Motor | Headlights
  • Ideal for quick snow pickups on mid-sized driveways and walkways
  • No gas, oil or tune-ups make it effortless to start and maintain
  • Powerful 13.5-amp motor moves up to 650 lbs of snow per minute
  • 4-blade steel auger cuts 18 in. wide by 10 in. deep with each pass
  • 180° adjustable directional chute throws snow up to 20 ft

This Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower epitomizes the other main class of machines we reviewed in this article; electric snow throwers that are silent and known for reliability. These machines have less moving parts and a less complicated mechanism than those with gas engines, but for most people they can still get the job done. A lot of it comes down to what you value in a machine; do you want something that can cover a very large amount of ground or throw a lot of snow? Or do you value quiet operation, dependability, and a more environmentally-sound footprint? Do you live in the city, or are you in the country or suburbs?

If you’re in the city, or have a smaller yard or patio, the electric machines might be good for you. (Even though you may also need to pick up an extension cord at the supply house.) Out of all the elctric machines we’ve surveyed, this one rates the best. So, check out what you’re looking for, and if an electric machine is on your radar check this out Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower.


So, what does this pint-sized snow thrower have going for it? Well, sometimes you don’t need a monster truck, you need a small sedan. Sometimes you don’t need a giant chef’s butcher knife, you need a small paring or butter knife. The Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower is that small-but-powerful machine. Small electric motor and compact sized machine. This is a positive in a sense that it’s virtually silent, can be used by all kinds of people easily, and is designed to last a long time. It’s also nice not smelling like unfiltered, unmuffled gasoline after clearing the driveway or the deck. Maneuverability that any large gas machine would envy. Almost no assembly required. A headlight! (Hey, it’s the little things, right?)


  • Best value pick of the bunch. If it doesn’t snow often where you live, or you’re on a budget, this Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower is the consensus pick online and in the field when it comes to budget machines.
  • Electric engine. Apples and oranges when comparing it with gas, but electric engines have their positives.
  • Easy starting capabilities + high reliability are sometimes a good tradeoff for what is usually the superior horsepower of a gasoline-powered engine.
  • Small but tough. As mentioned with the electric engine, it’s a durable little machine.
  • Adjustable chute and light-up headlight! Nice touches.


  • It’s a small, electric, cord-powered machine. You’ll need an extension cord if you don’t own one already to use this machine.
  • No self-propelling mechanism; the engine turns the auger, not the wheels. A.k.a. ”Get ready to push and sweat.”
  • Not on the level of a gas-powered machine.


The Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 Snow Blower is the consensus pick online and in the field when it comes to budget machines. It is the product of a young entrepreneur out of New Jersey. They have a small line of mainly electric-powered yard maintainance tools. They’re assembled in high-quality factories in China, and are know as fairly easy to use and simple tools (in a good way.)


This Snow Joe machine is different than almost all the others. For some people, these differences basically rule out buying the product. For others, it is these differences that make the Snow Joe something worth purchasing. If it means anything, there’s also a lot of stories online and out in the field about this machine absolutely tearing through blizzard-size snow. A lot of people own this machine for smaller jobs like ‘‘just to clear the deck’‘ or ‘‘just to get the 12 foot sidewalk path from the street to my door clear.”

This machine can do those things surely, and who knows; if the heavy stuff starts to fall and you press it into service, it may respond positively. If you need a big, gas powered machine, a ”beast,” look elsewhere. We recommend this machine for people that need it or want it. It’s up to you to decide if you’re in that category after you assess your own needs.

2. Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower

Briggs & Stratton 1696619, 250cc
  • 27-Inch wide clearing path with a 20-inch Intake height
  • Powerful 1150 snow series 250cc engine for 11.5-foot-pounds of torque
  • Friction disk drive system and equipped with an electric start for effortless starting
  • Equipped with an electric start for effortless starting
  • 3-year limited equipment and engine warranty


This is a snow blower with a strong 250cc engine. It moves through the drifts quickly and easily, without much effort. That’s how this particular machine operates. As they say, power is nothing without control, right? The Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower has variable engine speeds. 5 of them, to be exact. This helps for controlling the machine; you don’t want to sweat your face off pushing the thing around, but you don’t want it leading you around. Plus, when confronted with an incline, like many of us who have large rural or suburban properties, it helps to have a machine you can shift into a higher gear.

The Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower electric start system is both easy and reliable. Many of us who are older than a decade or two might remember coming out of the house in the morning, and trying fruitlessly to get the snow thrower started. Luckily these days, electric motors and full-synthetic oils have a lot of these problems under control. It has a single-handing option! No hand-warmers or headlights, but a single-hand option is a great feature when you’re out throwing snow for hours. Has an adjustable snow-throwing chute! Most machines don’t have this option, but it’s nice to be able to direct your excess snow into specific areas, and this Briggs machine lets you do it.


  • The Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower has a high performance 250cc engine for throwing wet snow and slush.
  • Variable 5 speed transmission and power steering for ease of handling by a variety of people.
  • Electric start system for convenience during cold temperatures.
  • Solid machine with great feature set for the price.
  • Build quality is high.


  • Some users report some issues with assembly of the unit. Make sure to assemble the machine in a well-lit area, preferably while sober.
  • It’s not smart to take these machines deep into gravel or hard dirt. This machine has thin bolts connected to the augers engineered where if they encounter resistance, they snap and quit spinning. If this happens, your machine isn’t busted; the augers just aren’t turning because you took the machine somewhere it isn’t supposed to go.


Briggs is one of America’s great companies: they’ve made small engines for over a hundred years. Depending on who you talk to, they may be the largest supplier of small engines in the world. They were founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1908, and their main R&D center is still there to this day. Their assembly factories are all over the USA, mainly in the south with another one in NY state.


So, this Briggs and Stratton 1696619 Snow Blower is a solid choice. It has a 5 speed transmission, which means not only is the machine easier to handle and maneuver than some, it also makes tackling hills and inclines a breeze. This machine may be a really good option for your needs.

3. Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower

The winter season does not only mean freezing temperatures and inch-thick clothes. For homeowners, it also means removing thick layers of snow and ice. Worry not, snow throwers are here to save the day! Snow throwers save you the hassle of inaccessible passages by discharging snow to a farther. Are you on the look for a compact yet effective snow thrower? Learn about Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower below.


With its considerably small size, this product have several unique features that cannot be found on traditional snow throwers. The Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower operates on 80V Lithium-Ion Battery. It has brushless motor technology meaning that it can clean up to 1 acre of yard of snow. How cool is that? It has snow discharging distance up to 20 feet, clearing depth of up to 10 inches and clearing width of up to 20 inches. With Easy Fold System you can remove snow anywhere you want. To explain further what this product offers and how it will help you during the next winter season, keep reading this guide.


  • Its brushless motor is digitally controlled. Compared to its brushed counterparts, a brushless motor is more efficient and less prone to mechanical wear. This is due to its higher torque per watt of power input. To best explain the concept of high torque motors, imagine a bodybuilder who can lift heavy weights but can’t run fast. The same goes with this snow thrower. Although this machine is sturdy enough, use them with caution.
  • Aside from efficiency, this snow thrower’s brushless motor technology also gives way for quiet operations, low maintenance requirements, and longer lifespan.
  • Its chute can rotate up to 180 degrees. This can give you a wide range of discharging angles. Unlike single-stage snow throwers that only push snow out of the way, this product does it differently. It gathers snow and throws it up and out of your sight.
  • The Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower offers a hassle-free operation due to its cordless body. Gone are the problems of pulling your machine too far from the electric outlet. However, its cordless design does not only bring you convenience. It also gives way for safer operations since you don’t have to drag long wires along wet snow.
  • Fast-charging. It only takes at least 30 minutes to fully charge the machine and re-use it. This is due to its 2.0 Ah lithium battery which is known for its long life and efficient charge and discharge capabilities.
  • Its “Easy Fold System” makes it the perfect portable snow blowing machine. This allows you to remove snow anywhere you want. This also makes storing your snow thrower ten times easier when the weather starts to get warmer. Until then, you are assured that it is conveniently resting somewhere unseen in your house.
  • Aside from its portability, this snow thrower is lighter compared to its counterparts. Since this is a push snow thrower, its lightweight character is a huge plus. Weighing 33 pounds, one can easily use and store it whenever needed.
  • Anyone can assemble and use this snow thrower with ease. To turn it on, all you have to do is push the button while holding the machine. Aside from a fast start-up time, this product can also be shut down pretty fast.
  • The dual LED lights attached to its body allows you to get rid of snow even at night. These lights are also conveniently placed across the snow thrower’s line of path so you can have a clear sight of the surroundings.
  • Its 6-inch wheels allow for easy maneuver.
  • Good for your body and the environment. Since this is an electronic device, you don’t have to worry about inhaling too much fumes. Its fume-free operation is also more environmentally friendly than gas-operated snow throwers.


  • Its small stature makes it prone to clogging. That is if you push the snow thrower too much – thinking that it will work faster this way. After the snow thrower becomes clogged, it suddenly turns off. This could be a bit inconvenient as you have to unclog it before turning it on again.
  • This snow thrower can be used for less than an hour. If you have to eliminate lots of ice and snow, this could be inconvenient. However, its short battery life has an unexpected advantage. As the battery recharges, you can warm yourself inside your house while you wait. If you opt for a longer-lasting snow thrower, consider purchasing multiple batteries. Until then, its short battery life could cause some problems in the future.


        Although this snow thrower has some drawbacks, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages. Investing in an easy-to-use and efficient snow thrower makes sudden snow bursts a lot less dreadful. The Greenworks PRO 20-Inch 80V Cordless Snow Thrower could be your reliable companion during the next snow-filled winter months.

Single Stage vs Dual Stage Snow Blower

If you need a snow blower or snow thrower (they’re basically the same thing, what you call the machine depends more on where in the world you live than anything else) we’ve at Surf-n-Buy got you covered.

Single Stage Snow Blower

Has an auger that touches the ground, propels the unit forward (albeit very slightly,) and throws the snow upward, all in one motion. This is why people also call single stage snow blowers ”snow throwers” in that they throw snow up and in one basic motion, not unlike what you would do with a shovel. Knowing that the auger touches the ground is important here, as these machines are made for paved surfaces like concrete and asphalt. The augers in these machines are plastic, and are designed not to leave marks on driveways or paved paths. Taking a machine like this out into dirt or gravel could cause the machine to tear up and throw said gravel or dirt into the air along with the snow. Obviously, this is not recommended.

Dual Stage Snow Blower

Meaning, there’s an auger/blade/fan involved that cuts and tosses the snow from the ground. Then a secondary action takes place that throws the snow out of the way. Again, this is different than the single stage machine that cuts and throws all with one motion. The important thing to know here is that in this case the auger sits higher up on the machine, and doesn’t touch the ground. This makes these types of machines great for use on gravel, sand or unpaved driveways and areas, because using the machine hopefully doesn’t tear up the ground or throw gravel in the air.

The other thing is that 2-stage machines have a wider tracking area due to this design difference. They almost look like mini-bulldozers sitting there in the shop with their big front scoops. As you might imagine, this lends them to heavier-duty use and are favored by people with big yards, big jobs to do, and by people who want the best machines that do jobs the quickest.

Online and among people who know, a ”snow thrower” is a single stage machine, and a ”snow blower” is a dual-stage machine. However, depending on where you live in the world, and sometimes how old you are, all snow-moving machines may be known as one thing or another. Complicating things are that a snow thrower is also technically a snow blower, yet a snow blower may not also be a snow thrower – if it’s only single-stage. Are you confused yet? In short, don’t worry about it. Especially out in real life. But now you know the difference between the ”stages!”

One more wrinkle in the snowblower game: When you’re looking for a snow blower, you have to pick how you want the engine to run, i.e. how is the snow thrower engine fueled? Most of the two stage machines are gas-powered, usually with some sort of electric start mechanism as well because lets face it, you’re using this thing in the cold. Unless you’re talking about a Tesla automobile, the most efficient and powerful engines on the planet in the consumer arena used for snow blowers run on gasoline. A snow thrower with a gas engine is going to be more powerful than a snow thrower with an electric engine at the same cost. But of course, power isn’t everything. Gas engines have more moving parts and sometimes have trouble starting up. Gas engines are loud and they have to emit some sort of exhaust. Electric engines are basically silent, and have fewer moving parts. They’re also very easy to start up and run. Electric engines are smaller, which makes the whole machine weigh less and therefore more maneuverable.

The downside of course with an electric engine is that the power has to come from somewhere, being that there’s no gas tank. This means either a power cord or a battery pack, and with the amount of power a snow thrower needs, it usually means a cord. So if you’re using an electric snow blower, you also need a cord as long as your yard, or at least as long as the area you want to clear. Combine the smaller size with the quiet operation of an electric machine, and you’ve got a bunch of electric snow throwers that are just begging to be used in the city, and in smaller yards and driveways. Then you add the fact that electric machines emit no exhaust, so you don’t smell like a gas station attendant when you’re done + you’re doing no damage to the environment. Score another point for the electric team, especially for you people out there that are city dwellers.

This is where the unheralded single-stage gas-powered snow thrower enters the stage once again? ”But wait” you ask, ”I thought I wanted a 2-stage machine! 2 stages have to be better than one, right? Well, sometimes. But know that the single-stage machines are smaller, because they only have (wait for it) one stage of operation. So the engines of these machines are usually smaller. They’re inherently not as big or as tuff as a 2-stage machine, but their small size makes them easier to move around than a 2-stage beast. For suburban or urban people looking for a compromise between electric and gas, a single stage machine may do that job well. Just know that single stage machines are meant for fairly light duty, and even then only on paved surfaces. But if that sounds like you, go for it. If you read through all our reviews, you notice that they go through each machine and pinpoint what type of machine it is, and who it’s suited for. Enjoy the guide, and feel free to impress people at the hardware store with your newfound knowledge if you wish.

Best Snow Blower Brands

A lot of people come into hardware stores and home-improvement supply houses asking this question. The truth is, most of these ”brands” are actually owned by one or two companies, and they assemble them from many different kinds of parts from all over the world. Yes, sometimes the name on the from of the machine matters, but more important is that you get something that fits your needs.


Poulan is part of the Husqvarna family of brands, and they’ve been made in one way or another for about a hundred years. This model is a ”Poulan Pro” meaning instead of the familiar Poulan green color, it sports a black-and-yellow scheme. This helps distinguish the sub-brand as being above both the standard Poulan gear and the Husqvarna line.

Power Smart

Power Smart is is part of the Amerisun family of brands, which means Lawn Devil and Snow Devil stuff sold at Menards is also basically made by the same company. They’ve been around for only a few years, and make a small line of farm equipment. They’re based out of Illinois, and their gear is seen commonly in the US Midwest. Most models carry a warranty, and online reviews about their durability are favorable.

Briggs & Stratton

Briggs is one of America’s great companies: they’ve made small engines for over a hundred years. Depending on who you talk to, they may be the largest supplier of small engines in the world. They were founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1908, and their main R&D center is still there to this day. Their assembly factories are all over the USA, mainly in the south with another one in NY state.

Snow Joe

Snow Joe is the product of a young entrepreneur out of New Jersey. They have a small line of mainly electric-powered yard maintainance tools. They’re assembled in high-quality factories in China, and are know as fairly easy to use and simple tools (in a good way.) Easily available on the East Coast, Snow Joe is growing and are sold online and in most retailer’s shops.


GreenWorks is out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and touts their tools as emissions-free devices. Many of their charging units meet or exceed EPA’s ”Energy Star” certification. They point out on their website that mowing a lawn (or, we assume, clearing a driveway of snow) puts as many particulates into the air as a car driving 100 miles. It’s an interesting marketing strategy that actually makes a lot of sense. Their machines all have a green color mixed with the more standard anodized-black looks, and try to show people that electric tools are not just smart choices in a utilitarian sense, but also good for the environment. They’re assembled in high-quality factories in China, and much like Snow Joe, are known as fairly easy to use and simple tools (in a good way.)


Husqvarna is a Swedish company, and if anyone understands snow, it’s Scandinavians. If you ask most farmers and rural folks about the brand, they’ll tell you positive things, as Husqvarna makes a lot of heavy-duty and tough farm gear. The original Husqvarna was a state-owned rifle factory that started in the 1600s. While you can’t buy a Husqvarna shotgun anymore, they’re still headquartered in Stockholm. They own a portfolio of brands, including the previously-reviewed Poulan and Poulan Pro products.


Troy-Bilt is part of MTD, a giant company out of Ohio that has a lot of brands under its umbrella like Cub Cadet and Remington. MTD means ”Modern Tool and Die” as they came out of being a tool company in the 1930s. They’re headquartered in Cleveland, and like many of these other conglomerates have an umbrella structure of brands. They sell bicicles as well as lawn and garden care products and what’s also very interesting is that they make over 30 private-label brands of products in the lawn care, tool, and garden sectors. So if you’re in the American Midwest or ordering products from a shop based there and you see something for sale under a ”store brand” or provate label brand there’s a good chance it was made by MTD/Troy-Bilt.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Snow Blower

The first thing to think about when shopping for a snow blower is the size of your driveway. Is it big? Small? Paved or not? Do you have hills or inclines to deal with? If you have a lot of ground to cover, you will probably want a 2-stage gas-powered machine. Most all of these have some sort of disk-driven transmission that gives power to the wheels; basically, they’re self-propelled. This also helps when it comes to hills. No one wants to be behind a big machine, pushing it up a hill. If your driveway isn’t paved, meaning it’s gravel, dirt, or sand, you may need to also make sure the auger doesn’t touch the ground. Most of the 2 stage gas machines + at least some of the electrics are designed this way. This is good because if hard things (like rocks or frozen ground) gets into the machine, bad things will happen.

Single stage machines run the auger directly on the ground. This is basically fine on paved surfases, as the concrete is harder than the plastic auger but as mentioned earlier, it might not be the best situation in unpaved areas. If you’re in the city or don’t have a big driveway, consider an electric machine. They’re theoretically more reliable than gas machines (though electric-start systems have mitigated this in one way or another.) An electric machine is also virtually silent, another thing to consider when living in close proximity to others. An electric machine doesnt emit any smoke or exhaust, so not only will you not smell like a gas station attendant after you’re done, it’s also better for the planet. The second factor to consider, of course, is how much money you’re willing to spend on a machine.

The 2 stage gas-powered machines are real hunks of machinery, and have prices to match. You’ll also need somewhere to store the beast. The electrics and single-stage machines are cheaper, have a smaller footprint, and have fewer moving parts, so in theory they’ll last longer.

What Types of Snowblowers are Available?

The top-of-the-line class of machines have both electric starting mechanisms paired with gas engines. These are 2-stage machines, where the auger feeds the snow through an impeller before heading out of the chute. Most of these are also self-propelled, and some have extras like headlights, handwarmers, and variable speeds that make clearing snow a lot easier. These machines are not cheap, but usually offer excellent build quality, come with good warranties, and are all-around tough machines. They’re the high-end of the market for a reason. Especially if you live in a rural area, have a lot of snow to clear, have to deal with hills and valleys or want the best- a 2-stage gas machine is for you.

The other main class of machines we reviewed in this article are electric snow throwers that are silent and known for reliability. These machines have less moving parts and a less complicated mechanism than those with gas engines, but for most people they can still get the job done. In some senses, they’re smaller, so they don’t have as much power, and might not be as ”built-to-last’‘ as their gas-powered counterparts. However,smaller also means more maneuverable. You can get these machines into tight corners, they travel up hills, and all sizes, shapes, and ages of people can handle them easier. A lot of it comes down to what you value in a machine; do you want something that can cover a very large amount of ground or throw a lot of snow? Or do you value quiet operation, dependability, and a more environmentally-sound footprint? Do you live in the city, or are you in the country or suburbs? If you’re in the city, or have a smaller yard or patio, the electric machines might be good for you. (Even though you may also need to pick up an extension cord at the supply house.)

The third class of machine we reviewed in this article are single-stage snow-blowers. Sort of a middle ground between the electric and gas-powered machines, a single stage is a little more powerful in a sense than an electric. It also unlike an electric isn’t tied to a cord or batteries. Unfortunately, the single stage design and the overall smaller motor size means that compared to the dual-stage machines, they are not as powerful. Where a single-stage machine thrives is in climates where there isn’t a lot of snowfall, and if it does come down it’s not as heavy or as thick. If you don’t live in super-serious snow country, but you don’t want to shovel your driveway, this machine may be what you need. So, check out what you’re looking for, and maybe ask your neighbors and keep your head up to what’s most popular in your area. That real-world knowledge combined with the info in this Surf’n’Buy’s guide will hopefully help you make an informed decision about the best snowblower for you.

Snow Blower Tips, Tricks and Advice

Here are some tips and tricks about snowblower ownership that will ensure your experience remains positive.

One: Make sure you have fuel stabilizer in your shed or garage! This sounds a bit strange, but in modern times, gasoline doesn’t ”last” or ”stay good” very long; usually only about 30 days. So if you filled up your snow blower/snow thrower with fuel when you bought it in late August, when the white stuff starts falling in November that gas will be worthless. Congress passed environmental regulations years ago that allowes for gasoline to ”oxidize,” which in short makes the stuff no good for fueling your machine.

So it’s a good idea to only buy gasoline when the forecast looks like snow. Failing that, try and make sure your gas is as fresh as possible, and buy a bit of fuel stabilizer as well to put in the tank with your gas. There’s a lot of reasons behind this, and I’ll keep it pretty simple. But basically, as gas deteriorates, it becomes less useful as fuel and more a fluid that can clog the myriad of small tubes, nooks, and crannies n your engine. There’s a lot of ethanol in modern gasoline, and that stuff can rust your tank it’s that corrosive. In short- just pick up some fuel stabilizer and throw a bit in (read the directions on the can, of course!) as needed and directed. Your snowblower will thank you, or at least start up and work when the temperatures are in the negative degrees.

Two: Another small thing you don’t really know you need until you don’t have it in the cold is a bag of shear pins. Most 2 stage snow blowers (and some other machines) have what’s called a ”shear pin” attached to the auger. Let’s say you’re out clearing the driveway and suddenly you run your snow blower into a junk-mail newspaper that at some point got thrown into your yard by some obviously extremely intelligent person. Newspapers, especially junk-mail ones in my experience, are excellent at soaking up moisture from snow, then freezing into impenetrable, rock-hard cylinders of ice. Your plastic auger, as tough as it is, isn’t going to slice through this massive, freezing ice log that’s hidden underneath some soft fluffy snow in your driveway. Sadly, this fight is always going to be won by the frozen paper.

If shear pins did not exist, what would happen would be the auger would unexpectedly run into a large obstacle, like the paper, or a frozen tennis ball left out there by the neighbor’s dog, or a big piece of wood, etc. Once the auger runs into something crazy like the frozen newspaper, it can’t continue pushing itself forward. Without a shear pin in place, the auger cannot move, but the disks in the transmission and the engine still want to turn the crank. This would mean serious engine or transmission damage. Incidentally, this is why most quality snow blowers have ”disk” style transmissions vs. ones with gears. A little slippage in this case is a good thing.

However, none of that stuff is even relevant at this point, because in our case, the shear pin that connects the auger to the engine drive assembly breaks off. Don’t worry, the pin is meant to break. A shear pin is a bolt that’s been grinded down so that when the auger feels a bit of resistance, the bolt breaks and severs the connection between auger and engine. Every winter, tons of people haul snow blowers back to their point of original purchase, complaining that ”they turn on the machine, but the auger doesn’t spin anymore.” Well, obviously, what happened was the owner probably ran the snow blower into something, broke the shear pin, and that’s why the machine doesn’t work anymore. Don’t be that person. Buy a bag of shear pins when you purchase your snow blower, and if you run into something unexpected or crazy (hey, we all do it, it’s not like you can really see what’s inside all that snow you’re plowing) check the shear pin. This way if the pin does its job, you can swap it out quickly with a fresh one and get back to finishing up your job.

Finally, now that you hopefully have those two things in your shed or garage. I’ll quickly run through some basics on using your snow thrower. Before you start it up, make sure all the knobs and settings on your snow blower are where they need to be. (For those of you who have children, you know that knobs and settings on machines in your house might be turned or messed with at any point in time!)

Every snow blower is different, but most should follow this set of instructions: Make sure your ”choke” is CLOSED. On some machines it says ”closed” or has a diagram with something blocking a pipe. Other machines say ”FULL” vs ”RUN.” This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but you want it on FULL for now. In short, you want the choke closed up. This is because closing the choke keeps air from getting into the carburetor. Right now you’re trying to get the machine going, so you want more fuel, less air in the carburetor and engine and closing the choke gets this done. The second thing is you want your throttle on Fast instead of Slow. You want the engine to fire up, so speed and revolutions per minute are what you’re looking for right now. Some machines have a ”graph” going from small to big, others have a ”turtle” icon on one side and a ”rabbit” icon on the other, etc. Right now you want the rabbit!

Next, you have to make sure that there’s actually gas available for your engine to drink when it’s thirsty. Modern snow blowers have a valve that keeps gas out of then engine when the machine is being stored (remember all my talk about old gas corroding metal parts, cloggin up things, etc). Keeping gas out of the engine when it’s not being used is a very good thing. Obviously, right now though, you want to use your machine, so look for a valve or switch that says ”GAS” vs. ”NO GAS” or a gas pump icon vs. a gas pump icon with the Ghostbusters ”No” symbol over it, etc. You want it on GAS right now.

Now the super obvious stuff: Make sure if your machine has an ON/OFF switch that it’s flipped to ON. Some On/Off switches say RUN/STOP or something else, but you know what I mean here. Other machines don’t have an on/off switch, but instead have a key. Some have both, others have neither. Either way, if your machine requires a key, make sure that sucker is in there and turned towards the ON or START position or whatever.

One last thing before you fire it up: See if your machine has a primer bumb aka a ”pump bulb.” Most do. If so, give that bulb a push or two. This releases a little bit of gas into the engine so that there’s actually propellant in there when you start huffing and puffing and getting it started. Now’s the time, pull the starter cord and let ‘er rip! Alternatively: now’s the time you attach a power cord to the engine, and push the START button. Maybe not as satisfying as pulling on a ripcord, but a whole lot easier. Heck, sometimes it’s even cooler to just push a button and hear your engine come to life.

Now, go get that driveway cleared so you can get out in to the world where burgers and pizza and ice cold beers await you.


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