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Old 09-10-2019, 09:50 PM
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Recommendation for Snow Removal


Believe it or not, I have lived in Montana for the past 10 years and have never needed a snowblower. My full-size truck had a 7-foot steel plow for my long asphalt driveway, and I used a snow shovel to deal with the decks and stairs.

I'm now moving to a new house and no longer need or have room for a full-size truck, which means I have to find a different way to clear off my uneven stamped concrete driveway. Most of my neighbors use a snowblower of one kind or another, but they all have smooth driveways. I am worried about damaging the stamped concrete driveway.

Is there a way to remove the snow without having to use a snowblower? And if the only answer is some type of snowblower, which once would you recommend and why?

We get about 60 inches of snow a year here and the temp can drop to -10 degrees or colder for weeks at a time. Any advice would be appreciated. BTW, I grew up in Northern California so I never really had a need to remove snow until I moved here.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolphinboy View Post
Is there a way to remove the snow without having to use a snowblower?
A shovel and a sturdy back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dolphinboy View Post
And if the only answer is some type of snowblower, which once would you recommend and why?
I can't give you a specific one to buy, but I can help with guidelines. You want it to be gas-powered, not battery powered, not corded. And you want it to be at least 2-stage. With 60" of snow, which is what we get here on in a normal year (there haven't been many of those the last 15 years, though, we've been getting a lot more), I'd also get the widest, heaviest one you can comfortably get through the doorway of the cellar or shed you're keeping it in and that you can comfortably move on your own with it not powered on.

I'd like to get one of these but a. 30" is wider than I can get through the cellar doorway due to poorly placed support pillars for the deck and b. it weighs 320lbs so I'm better off waiting to move than buy it a shed to live in because moving to a new home it would be a real pain in the behind given I own a Corolla.

What I have now is a 2-stage 24" one that will get the job done well enough in my 1/8th mile long gravel driveway. Eventually. It's a lot slower going than I'd like.

Last edited by elfkin477; 09-10-2019 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:23 PM
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I've never seen any markings on the ground from snowblower use. Friends have those fancy stones, and they seem to take it. Get a nice Honda or MTD and rock on.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:07 PM
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The snowblowers have adjustable skids, so you can just set it to not scrape the driveway. Works for my bumpy dirt drive. Maybe set it an inch high, and then clear down to the pavers with a shovel?
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:46 PM
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A bored teenager that wants to earn some money?

One of these? https://www.amazon.com/Suncast-SF185...=fsclp_pl_dp_1
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:36 AM
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If you'll use a riding mower, consider one that you can attach a snow blower to.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:15 AM
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I have a long driveway and an even longer private road. Both dirt and rough. A riding mower with snowblower attachment is the fastest and easiest method. Also the most expensive. When I started spending more time repairing my tractor setup than actually using it, I bought one of these. It has 2 winters on it with no problems and starts on the first try. It has electric start but I haven't needed to use it yet.
Works very well except in the warmest of snow which is difficult with any snow removal method.

As elfkin477 said " I'd also get the widest, heaviest one you can comfortably get through the doorway of the cellar or shed you're keeping it in and that you can comfortably move on your own with it not powered on".

I have seen marks left on concrete from snowblowers but I think the skids were set too low. Don't quote me on that though.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:29 AM
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That Suncast thing would only be good for light fluffy snow. The best option would be to get a snowblower and adjust the skids for greater clearance.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:43 AM
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You can easily replace the snowblower's metal skids with plastic, raise it up a bit on those skids and I don't see any issue with a stamped driveway. I use mine on a uneven gravel driveway, and yes there is some issue if you had one of those instead, but it is manageable. I tend to leave about a inch of snow, let it pack down and freeze and use that as my drivable and snow blower surface.

Other options, pay someone to plow you, or a kid to remove it. Snowblowers are not exactly cheap and using that money towards snow removal services can go a long way.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:39 AM
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Yeah, get a solid 2-stage w/ flexible skids. I use only a 1-stage, but no damage to my brick driveway.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:11 AM
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I just checked, and western Pennsylvania gets around 28 inches of snow a year. We are on a private gravel road with two other homes. When snow is falling, if I'm at home I'll drive out the road and back every so often. My neighbors do this also. We all have 4 WD vehicles, and other than the once-a-decade snowfall where we hire someone to plow, we get by just fine.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:00 AM
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I just checked, and western Pennsylvania gets around 28 inches of snow a year. We are on a private gravel road with two other homes. When snow is falling, if I'm at home I'll drive out the road and back every so often. My neighbors do this also. We all have 4 WD vehicles, and other than the once-a-decade snowfall where we hire someone to plow, we get by just fine.
My guess is that the combination of greater snowfall and lower temps in Minn might make your approach problematic.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:18 AM
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My guess is that the combination of greater snowfall and lower temps in Minn might make your approach problematic.
I would guess the same, but having no Montana experience just thought it was worth considering.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
A shovel and a sturdy back.
Both preferably belonging to somebody else.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:33 AM
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I live in similar conditions and Elfkin has good advice. I'll chime in and say tracks>wheels if you have the option, at least a 2 stage and I'll put a vote in for Husqvarna's gear. I use their chainsaws and blowers at work and they are great! I'm looking at an ST224 for my house but if you really want a beast check out the 400 series.
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Last edited by swampspruce; 09-11-2019 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:03 PM
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Geothermal driveway heating.

Granted, you will probably have to replace the driveway as part of the installation.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:13 PM
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Get a 2015 Delorean?
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:37 PM
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60 inches really isn't that much snow, however wind and topography matters a bunch. If it is re-drifting all over your drive 2 feet deep long after the 5 inches stopped falling, then the amount you have to deal with is effectively much more.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:34 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Good advice all. Maybe hiring a neighborhood teenager isn't such a bad idea. I have two 4-wheel drive vehicles so it's not like I'm going to be trapped at home.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:16 PM
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Famous last words there... I said the same the first winter I had my Cherokee.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:00 PM
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Oh, one thing I didn't explain earlier: the reason I said that you have to be able to move it powered down on your own is that there's a 100% chance that eventually you're going to have to. It will be freezing cold and snowing like a bastard when, while you're at the far end of your driveway, it stalls out and won't turn over, you run out of gas, or you find a huge rock that wedges itself in the augur. Some winters all three will happen.
  #22  
Old 09-12-2019, 09:51 PM
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I asked some of my new neighbors how they handle the snow and all of them said they hire a local company to take care of it for them. I'm getting some pricing from the company, but at $1,000+ for a good snowblower, I can't see how it could ever make sense to do this myself. I have nothing to prove...
  #23  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:16 AM
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All good advice - My only add is that if you decide to buy one, research where you buy. Specifically check how warranty service is done and ask what the average turnaround time is for repairs.

My neighbour purchased an snowblower at Home Depot. Great price, on sale etc etc. When he went to try it out at our first January snowfall it wasn't working.

He returned it to HD and was told they send / receive the units for repair only once a week and he just missed the day. They said he should count on minimum 3 weeks for any repair, a week at their location, a week to get fixed and another week to get it back, anything sooner was a bonus. In the end he missed about 5 weeks of winter and most of the snowfall for that season.

He regretted not buying it at our local shop. They service what they sell on site and warranty is a priority for them. If they have parts, they have it back with 24 to 48 hours. Snowblowers are complex machines with lots of moving parts, they will breakdown frequently.

Lesson learned.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:42 AM
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I'm surprised you get that little snow up there! When we lived in Telluride with 300"+ we had a service with a backhoe for the driveway and a Honda 32" 2-stage monster (which has never failed to start in 15 years). Here in Bozeman people are almost universally using Honda gas single-stage units. About 100" a year here in town. https://powerequipment.honda.com/sno...models/hs720am Knock on wood the 13HP Honda has never needed anything more than oil changes, correct jetting, and shear pins.

Still $700 bucks, though. A neighborhood kid might be the best option.
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoastalMaineiac View Post
They're also called sled shovels, and are actually quite effective if you're going to be removing snow manually. The only downside is you need to have a fair amount of space to dump the snow since they're not very good at piling it up very high. But they do make it easy to drag loads of snow a fair distance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Duality View Post
That Suncast thing would only be good for light fluffy snow.
Not true at all. They're particularly good for removing the heavy slushy crap that street plows leave at the end of your driveway because you don't have to lift anything.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:52 PM
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I should add to the snow removal advice that my current solution of choice is a plowing service. A snowblower is much cheaper in the long run (I could have bought a good two-stage blower for about the cost of two seasons of snowplowing) but even a good self-propelled two-stage blower is a lot of miserable work especially in the cold and with the wind blowing snow in your face, and I don't have room in the garage to store one anyway. It's nice looking out the window in my bathrobe and seeing my driveway completely cleared of snow in a few minutes. He'll come by multiple times a day if necessary, or if the street plows fuck up the driveway entrance afterwards, he'll come by again and remove that mess. My only issue with all this is that the last few winters we haven't had many really big snowfalls.
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