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Snow Blowing Tips: How To Use A Snowblower For The First Time Or After A Long Break

Tips for snow blowing you should follow this season:

  1. Use fresh fuel with a fuel stabilizer.
  2. Plow snow in a pattern.
  3. Don’t blow more than 6 inches of snow at a time.
  4. Blow with the wind.
  5. Work slowly and steadily.
  6. Take in smaller bites of snow to avoid clogging.
  7. Throw snow far.

Is this your first time using a snowblower? Don’t know how to operate that big machine in front of you? Or maybe you’ve got rusty at handling this machine during a long nice summer?

There’s no need to worry! 

Using a snowblower for the first time or after a long break can be intimidating. I can relate! That is why I have decided to write a complete guide on how to use a snowblower. My snow blowing tips will help you clear your driveway in a matter of minutes. Check out the results! 

Prepare The Snowblower For Work 

What You Will Need To Prepare The Snowblower 

  1. Fresh fuel
  2. Fuel stabilizer
  3. Motor oil  

How To Prepare The Snowblower

Read The User Manual 

Whether you are working with a brand new snowblower from my “Best List” or putting your old one to use, it is always good to read the user manual to refresh your memory and adapt to the ins and outs of the unit you are working with. 

Ask yourself questions like:

  1. Do I know how to start the engine?
  2. Do I understand how to operate the steering levers, drive clutch, and chute controls?
  3. What type of motor oil does my unit need?

You should find answers to all your questions in the owner’s manual.

If you lost your snowblower manual, you can easily get it on

eManualOnline is a company that specializes in selling online manuals for a vast variety of machinery. They have manuals for anything from cars to tractors to electronics and more!

The company has a solid refund policy. If you haven’t downloaded the manual, you will get a full refund. If you have downloaded the manual within 14-days and you are not happy, they offer any other manual up to the same amount or offer store credit.

Don’t miss a special offer on eManualOnline: Get 20% off on orders over $50!

You can also look up the answer online. I’ve picked out a beginner-friendly video for you to get you started. Check it out! 

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Fill Up The Tank With Fresh Fuel

Fill the gas tank with fresh fuel to ensure the proper starting of the engine. The number one reason why snow blowers won’t start after summer is stale fuel that is clogging the system. 

If you haven’t drained the system yet, now is the time to do it. Drain the old fuel through the fuel line or using a siphon pump. Replace it with fresh fuel, grade 89 octane, or higher. You can also use ethanol fuel of up to E10. Don’t use blends with an alcohol content higher than 10 percent.  

Add Fuel Stabilizer 

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Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank to keep the gasoline from freezing and getting gummed up. A fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL Storage will ensure a quick start of the engine, even after 24 months of storage. 

Change Motor Oil

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Last but not least, check if there is enough motor oil in the reservoir. If there is not enough, fill it up to the line

A lack of motor oil can cause serious damage to your engine. So, make sure you check the oil level before every use or at least after every five hours of run time

The type of oil you use depends on the outdoor temperatures you will be working in. 4-cycle 5W30 motor oil will work in most winter temperatures, even as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

Still, check the owner’s manual for a more accurate suggestion. 

If you lost your snowblower manual, you can easily get it on

Don’t miss a special offer on eManualOnline: Get 20% off on orders over $50!

Assess The Working Conditions 

What You Will Need To Assess The Working Conditions

  1. You only need a windsock. 

How To Assess The Working Conditions 

Don’t Wait For It To Stop Snowing  

If you are expecting a lot of snowfall, don’t let it accumulate too high before heading outdoors. 

Don’t let the snow pile up more than 6 inches. Clearing 6 inches of snow twice is much easier than 12 inches at once, especially if working with a single-stage snowblower that can’t handle such a load. 

By working in increments, you won’t put much strain on the snowblower, and you will throw snow farther away, too. Remember, the longer you let the snow sit, the harder it will be to remove. 

Clear the snow before it gets wet, otherwise, you will have to follow my guide on how to use a snowblower in wet snow (and to make sure that you have the best snow blower for wet snow).

Blow With The Wind  

Don’t let the wind discourage you from clearing your driveway in time unless you are dealing with a blizzard. In fact, you can use the wind to your advantage to throw the snow further away from your driveway

Step outside and determine the direction of the wind. You can do this by licking one finger and holding it up or throwing a little bit of powdery snow in the air to see in which direction it moves. You can also use a windsock. 

The direction in which the wind is blowing should be the direction of your discharge. 

Prep The Driveway For Snow Clearing 

What You Will Need To Prep The Driveway 

  1. You will only need driveway markers. 

How To Prep The Driveway

Remove Any Obstacles

Before the snow accumulates, take your time to prep your driveway for snow clearing. Remove any obstacles that could jam your snowblower. This includes rocks, garden hose, garbage bags, toys, sticks, and the like. 

Don’t forget about your morning newspaper buried under the snow! You’d be surprised how often snowblowers end up in repair shops because of frozen newspaper. The picture above shows the damage. 

Pro Tip: Clearing snow from gravel surfaces without getting the snowblower clogged is possible. You only have to position the auger housing or skid shoes higher to keep the machine from picking up the gravel. Read my blog post for more on the topic.  

Mark The Driveway 

mark the driveway
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A driveway looks a whole lot different when covered in a thick blanket of snow. 

Remembering where exactly it starts and ends is difficult, especially when focusing on the task at hand. You can go off the path in a split second and suck up a couple of rocks, half the shrub, and your garden edging along the way. 

To prevent this from happening, I recommend you mark the perimeter of your driveway and walkway with driveway markers. Now you will know exactly how far to plow without damaging the surroundings. 

Plan Out Your Snow Clearing 

What You Will Need To Make A Plan 

No supplies needed. 

How To Plan Out Your Snow Clearing 

Choose Where You Want To Pile The Snow 

A pile of snow
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First, determine where you want to pile the snow. On one side of the driveway or both? 

Ideally, discharge the snow far away from the driveway without getting it in your neighbor’s yard. I recommend you blow the snow into an unused area of your yard that has good drainage. You won’t have to deal with puddles in the spring once the snow pile melts.  

Also, make sure to never blow snow towards people, houses, cars, or onto the street. Plow trucks will push the hardened mess right back into your yard. 

Pro Tip: As mentioned above, let the direction of the wind determine where you pile your snow.

Pick A Pattern 

Mounds on both sides vs. mounds on one side

If you would like to pile snow on both sides of the driveway, make the first pass in the center of the driveway and work your way out by going in circles, as shown in the picture above (left pattern). 

If you’ve decided to pile the snow on one side of the driveway, start on the opposite side, going up and down until you’ve completely covered the area (right pattern). You will have to rotate the discharge chute 180° each time you take a turn to keep blowing the snow in the same direction.

Use Your Snowblower Safely 

What You Will Need To Safely Use A Snowblower

  1. Form-fitted clothes 
  2. Insulated boots
  3. Ski mask 
  4. Safety Glasses  
  5. Non-stick snowblower spray
  6. Fire extinguisher 

How To Safely Use A Snowblower 

Don’t Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

You should wear multiple layers of clothing while working in the freezing cold, so you don’t catch a cold. However, don’t wear loose fitting clothing that can get caught in the snowblower!

Tuck your scarf inside your jacket, or even better, wear a ski mask. Don’t forget to wear gloves, safety glasses, and insulated boots with good grip, so you don’t slip on the ice that is hiding underneath the snow. 

Don’t Leave The Snowblower Running Unattended 

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Never leave a snowblower running unattended! Turn off the machine, even if you are stepping away from it just for a moment. Accidents happen when you least expect it. You never know when a curious neighbor’s kid or a pet will come running by. 

Never Remove A Clog With Your Hands 

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Snowblowers get clogged every once in a while when clearing heavy, deep snow too fast. When that happens, don’t panic! Simply turn off the engine and give it 10 seconds to rest. 

Use a chute clean-out tool or a broom handle to remove jammed snow from the chute or impeller. Never attempt to unclog the snowblower with your hands, even if you are wearing gloves. 

Pro Tip: Lubricate your snowblower with a non-stick spray to keep it from clogging. The snow will glide through the chute much easier with the help of these non-stick sprays I have reviewed

Don’t Refuel While The Engine Is Hot 

If you run out of gas in the middle of the job, don’t refuel the tank right away. Turn off the engine first and let it cool down for at least 10 minutes before refueling. 

The reason why you should never refuel a hot engine is that the snowblower can catch on fire. The gas tank is typically located right above the engine and, if you spill any or overfill it, your precious snowblower could burst into flames. 

Instead, take a short break and let the engine cool for a little while you sip on some hot cocoa. 

Pro Tip: Always have a fire extinguisher ready in your garage when working with a snowblower, in case of a fire emergency. 

Start Clearing The Snow 

What You Will Need To Clear The Snow 

  1. Snowblower
  2. Outdoor extension cord (electric start models)

How To Clear Snow 

Start Snowblower In A Ventilated Area

Always start your snowblower in a ventilated area, either outside or in your garage with the doors open. This way, the exhaust fumes won’t give you a headache or make you dizzy. 

How you start your snowblower depends on the startup mechanism it features:

  1. Recoil start aka pull-start: Give the rope a quick and hard pull to get the engine started. 
  2. Electric start: Plug the snowblower into an electrical outlet with an extension cord. Push the start button to start the engine. Unplug the extension cord and continue working. 

The video below demonstrates how to properly start a snowblower.

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Use Both Hands 

Hold the snowblower with both hands

Once your snowblower is up and running, keep both hands on the machine while operating it. You will have more control over the movement of the snowblower. 

Some two-stage units have a one-hand interlock feature that lets you operate the controls with one hand while leaving the other one free to manage the chute. Pretty amazing if you ask me!

Take Smaller Bites Of Snow 

Bite on smaller bits of snow

Clearing snow isn’t a race. You should pace yourself, or you will spend half the time unclogging the chute.  

You can run the snowblower at full speed, but push it forward slowly when going through wet and heavy snow. 

Instead of clearing snow with the full width of the snowblower, try shaving off one third or half the width with each pass you make. You’ll run a lesser chance of clogging your snowblower and overexerting it. You’ll also throw snow farther away when taking in smaller bites. 

Throw Snow Far  

Throw the snow directly onto your desired piling spot
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Throw the snow directly onto your desired piling spot so you won’t have to go over it a second time. To achieve a maximum discharge distance, follow these steps:

  1. Adjust the chute in a fully raised position.
  2. Run the snowblower at full speed.
  3. Slowly move the snowblower through the snow.  
  4. Clear smaller sections of snow at a time.
  5. Blow with the wind. 

FAQ: Answered 

How Much Snow Do You Need To Use A Snowblower?

You will need at least 2 inches of snow to use your snowblower. For anything less than 2 inches, you can use a snowplow shovel (electric start models). Don’t plow more than 6 inches of snow at a time. It is easier to clear 6 inches twice than 12 inches at once. 

Snow Blowing Tips For Pros

It is completely normal to feel a little bit anxious when using big machinery for the first time. That is why it was important for me to share advice on how to use a snowblower safely and confidently.

Wrapping It Up

Follow my snow blowing tips, and you will become a pro at clearing snow, whether you are using your snowblower for the first time or a 100th time. 

You’ve made it to the end! Did you enjoy my snow blowing tips? Let me know in the comments below and share my tutorial on social media. Your friends might be looking for the same snow blowing tips as you are.

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About The Author

Brett Jones

Brett's the kind of guy you'd never peg as having such an amazing yard. He's shy and private, avoiding social media and the spotlight. By day, Brett works quietly as an electrician technician, helping folks with wiring and repairs. But get Brett home to his place in Raleigh, where Nadya's always dreaming up new landscaping ideas, and you see another side of him. Brett happily rolls up his sleeves to transform their modest backyard into a lush, cozy oasis. The yard's really a labor of love for them, a place to unwind on weekends, entertain friends, and make cherished memories together. Nadya might come up with all the creative concepts, but Brett's the one ensuring each vision comes to stunning life. They make a great team, even if Brett's content to operate behind the scenes. At heart, Brett's a simple man who finds purpose and joy in small things. Puttering in their garden under the sun or cooking out back in the evenings - these are the things that fulfill him. Brett cares deeply for crafting a space ideal for intimacy, nurturing a life well-lived away from fanfare. Follow him on Twitter.

1 thought on “Snow Blowing Tips: How To Use A Snowblower For The First Time Or After A Long Break”

  1. Thanks Naday
    Being new to snow blowing I find your article very helpful. But for now the snow is coming down fast and first 6 inches need to be dealt with now!


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