Throughout human history, great minds have pondered challenging questions such as, “What is the meaning of life?” We’d like to add another- “Is it possible to use my leaf blower to get rid of the snow on my driveway?”
One of the greatest things about owning a leaf blower is how versatile they are. Obviously, you can use them for clearing leaves, but as has been discussed before, cleaning gutters or unclogging your dryer vent are two other great uses. I once had a job using a gas-powered, backpack blower to push litter from the sidewalks of shopping centers to the parking lot, so that I could pick it up with a vacuum truck later.
This article will focus on using a leaf blower to clear snow. For certain times of the year when the flaky, white dust falls from the sky, a leaf blower can be your first line of defense.
Snow Blower vs. Leaf Blower
Plainly, there is a difference in a snow blower and a leaf blower as shown by their first names. They each were designed with a specific task in mind. But, while the snow blower is suited only to one job, you may find your leaf blower to be a multi-tasking device. Feel free to read our article dedicated to the differences between the two.
Your neighbor with the big 8- or 13-hp, self-propelled Toro may look down on you and say that there is already a proper tool for that, the snow blower. You may confidently point out, however, that since the “proper” snow removal machine uses an impeller to push or throw the powder to the side, it’s not technically a snow blower. Your equipment is exactly that when you point the nozzle at the no-two-are-alike ice crystals.
One great argument for using a leaf blower to clear the snow is that shoveling is dangerous. According to a report (opens in a new tab) in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, in the years spanning from 1990-2006, an average of 100 people died and 11,500 required a trip to the hospital due to injuries and heart attacks suffered while using a shovel to clear snow. Don’t let this be you. Work smarter, not harder.
Obviously, you should remember the basic safety considerations and gear up properly before heading out into the winter wonderland to do battle with the elements. Proper shoes/boots with a good sole is important, as you don’t want to slip and fall. Remember, depending on the force of the air blowing from the nozzle of your power tool may be enough to cause you to lose your balance on an icy surface.
If you’re using a corded blower, to avoid the risk of electrical shock, be sure your device is plugged into a GFCI outlet (opens in a new tab) and avoid dragging the power cord through any puddles that you create.
A warm jacket and gloves will be important, as will be head and face covering. The blower is bound to kick up a great deal of snow, and it could possibly land back on you, causing at least some discomfort. I would also recommend eye protection, which you should probably wear in any case when using this equipment.
Obviously, if you live in a place like Buffalo, NY, where they tend to measure snow in fathoms instead of inches, a leaf blower is going to reach its limits of usefulness very quickly. But for the occasional light snowfall in other regions, this can be a fast and easy way to clean your driveway and walk.
Try to remember the following tips:
- Light, powdery, dry snow will be the easiest to clear with a leaf blower. This occurs when the temperature is well-below freezing, and the density of the flakes is low. Simply point the nozzle in front of yourself and watch the crystals magically move away. Your blower won’t fare very well against wet snow.
- Try to avoid blowing it directly into a stiff wind, or you will find yourself blinded by the cloud of icy particles that melt on contact with your skin and cause you unwanted moistness.
- Do not walk on the snow before you try to move it. The weight of your footstep will be enough to pack the snow tight to the surface of your walk or driveway and thus make it more difficult to remove. Its best to start from the door of your garage or house and work your way from there.
If you do not have the luxury of garage space in which to park your vehicle(s), you would be wise to begin by using your electric or gas-powered device to remove the snow from them before tackling the driveway. It’s much quicker than a brush or a broom, and after the SUV is snow-free, then you can move on to the pavements. If you skip this step, then you’ll just end up pushing snow from your car back onto your driveway or parking area that you just cleaned.
What About Heavy Snow?
This is where timing is important. If the local meteorologist has predicted several inches of accumulation, then it’s important not to wait until the snowfall is over if you intend to use your leaf blower as your main method of removal. A blower works best against small quantities.
So, if you can, try to not let the snowfall build up more than a few inches before clearing it. Once it becomes over a certain amount, and packs down due to its weight, you will be wishing you hadn’t been so snarky with your neighbor about his big snow-removal machine.
You may find yourself having to go out into the snowstorm a few or several times to keep the snow from piling up too much. But if you keep on top of the situation, you may be able to save yourself from getting stuck in your driveway after the storm has passed.
If your region tends to get a lot of snow, especially the wet, packing type, then your leaf blower is clearly going to be of limited use. But on days where the snowfall is light, it can be a time-saver.
So when the weather outside is frightful, you may find using your leaf blower delightful. You’ll have that pesky winter’s blanket cleared in record time, and then can reward yourself back in the house with a well-deserved mug of hot chocolate by the fire (or big-screen television).
Have you ever cleared snow with your blower? How did it go for you? Let us know in the comments below!