Leaf Blowers for Snow: Can They Really Clear the White Stuff?

Facing a light dusting of snow on your driveway and wondering if your leaf blower can save the day? Surprisingly, when the snow’s still powdery, a leaf blower can be an effective tool for clearing your paths and surfaces. It’s all about timing and the type of snow you’re dealing with.

Before you reach for your shovel, consider the advantages of using a leaf blower for snow removal. Not only can it be quicker, but it also spares you the back-breaking work of shoveling as the snow gets heavier. 

Can You Use a Leaf Blower for Snow Removal?

When you’re faced with a blanket of powdery snow, reach for your leaf blower to quickly clear paths and surfaces. It’s vital to act while the snow is fresh, as rising temperatures can turn light snow into a slushy challenge that’s tough for leaf blowers to handle.

For light snowfalls, those measuring up to two or three inches, a leaf blower is your back-saving tool of choice. With the right equipment, you can cover more ground than shoveling would allow and complete the job with impressive speed.

Power and Efficiency

In terms of power, a gas-powered leaf blower with a minimum of 400 cubic feet per minute (CFM) is your go-to. This specification is enough to effectively shift powdery snow off your driveways and walkways without reverting to manual shoveling.

Maintenance and Safety

  • Regularly check the air filter and air-intake grid to prevent snow and ice build-up.
  • Use a gas-powered leaf blower to avoid electrical risks associated with snow and water mixing.
  • If you must use an electric version, make sure it’s connected to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
  • For battery-powered models, ensure they are water-resistant to minimize the risk of malfunction.

man cleans pavement from snow with blower

Pros and Cons of Using a Leaf Blower for Snow Removal

Pros

  • Speed and Efficiency: Using a leaf blower for snow removal is considerably faster compared to traditional shoveling. The air stream generated by the blower sweeps away snow, clearing paths and driveways in a fraction of the time.
  • Physical Exertion Reduced: You’ll appreciate the reduced physical strain as a leaf blower eliminates the need for bending and lifting, so minimizing back and shoulder pain.
  • Versatility of Use: Most blowers are multi-functional, allowing you to maintain your investment’s value year-round, not only in autumn when leaves are falling.
  • Ease of Operation: Handling a blower is less complex than operating snow-specific machinery like snow blowers which may require regular fueling or complicated controls.

Cons

  • Limitations with Wet Snow: Once snow becomes wet and heavy, its removal with a leaf blower becomes challenging. The efficiency drops, and you may end up chasing slush without fully clearing it.
  • Noise Pollution: Leaf blowers, especially gas-powered models, generate significant noise, which can be disruptive to you and your neighbourhood.
  • Environmental Impact: Gas-powered leaf blowers emit pollutants, so if you’re eco-conscious, you’ll want to consider the environmental footprint of using these devices.
  • Cost of Powerful Models: To effectively clear snow, you’ll need a blower with considerable power; higher CFM ratings are often found in more expensive models, which can put a strain on your budget.

Choosing the Right Leaf Blower for Snow Removal

When you’re looking to use a leaf blower for snow removal, it’s important to choose the right type for the job. Various models have different features that could significantly affect their performance when it comes to dealing with snow.

Electric Leaf Blowers

Electric leaf blowers offer a convenient and eco-friendly option. They tend to be lighter in weight and produce less noise than gas-powered blowers, making them easier to handle and more neighbour-friendly. There’s no need to worry about gas emissions or fuel mixing.

But, remember, electric blowers can struggle with wet, heavy snow. Their power output may not match the force required to move dense snow effectively. Since they’re usually tethered to a power outlet, their range can be limited, which is something to consider if you have a large area to clear.

Key features of electric leaf blowers include:

  • Lighter weight
  • Quiet operation
  • No emissions

Battery-Powered Leaf Blowers

Battery-powered leaf blowers offer increased mobility over corded electric models. You’re not restricted by the length of a power cord, so you can move freely around your property. Recent advancements have seen a significant improvement in battery life and power, with high-end models offering considerable airflow and speed, enough to deal with light, fluffy snow falls efficiently.

They are also relatively quiet and environmentally friendly. But, as battery capacity diminishes in colder conditions, you might face reduced operational time during the winter.

Advantages of Battery-Powered Leaf Blowers:

  • Cordless convenience
  • Improved battery technology
  • Environmentally friendly operation

Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

Gas-powered leaf blowers are the heavy hitters when it comes to power and performance. They can handle thicker layers of snow, even occasionally managing wetter conditions due to their higher airspeed and volume.

Even despite their power advantage, gas blowers are heavier and noisier and come with the drawback of fumes and ongoing fuel costs. You’ll also need to perform regular maintenance to keep them operating correctly.

  • Powerful airflow
  • Capable of handling heavier snowfall
  • Best performance for larger areas

Remember: Efficiency varies with condition, such as snow density and moisture level. A blower that works for light snow won’t necessarily be effective for wetter, heavier types. Assess your typical winter weather and choose a model that aligns with those conditions for the best experience in snow removal.

man cleans pavement snow blower

Tips for Using a Leaf Blower for Snow Removal

When it comes to removing snow with a leaf blower, adopting the correct approach is crucial to ensure effectiveness and safety. Below, you’ll find detailed advice on how to tackle this task with confidence.

Safety Precautions

Your safety while operating a leaf blower for snow removal must be your top priority. Before you start, ensure you’re suitably dressed for the cold weather, wearing layers, gloves, and slip-resistant boots. Protect your ears from the high noise levels with ear defenders and always wear eye protection to guard against flying debris.

Check the leaf blower’s path and remove any hidden obstacles or items that can become airborne and cause injury. Be aware of your surroundings, especially the proximity of people and pets, to reduce the risk of accidents.

Proper Technique

Effective snow removal with a leaf blower requires finesse and the right technique. To start, set the nozzle to a low angle, concentrating the airflow across the top layer of snow, pushing it forward and to the side. This method avoids lifting the snow and losing control over its direction.

In tight spaces or when cleaning around vehicles, use short, controlled bursts to clear the snow without making a mess. Pay attention to the wind direction to prevent blowback and choose a strategic starting point, typically at one end and working your way backward, to prevent snow from being cleared onto an already clean area.

Cleaning Up After Snow Removal

Once you’ve cleared the snow, a bit of sidewalk and driveway maintenance goes a long way. Sweep up any remaining snow or slush that the leaf blower may not have been powerful enough to remove. On surfaces where ice might form, apply environmentally safe de-icing products to prevent slippery conditions.

For optimal leaf blower maintenance, remove moisture and debris from the machine to prevent freeze-up and corrosion. Store your leaf blower in a dry area, ready for the next use, ensuring it remains in good working condition for both snow removal and year-round yard tasks.

Alternative Methods for Snow Removal

When considering snow removal, it’s smart to have alternative methods alongside using a leaf blower. Each approach has its own set of advantages that might suit your needs better in different circumstances.

Manual Shovelling: One of the most common methods. It offers you a free workout, and with ergonomic shovels available, the strain on your back is lessened. But, it requires significant physical exertion and time, especially if you’re dealing with a large area.

Snow Blowers: A potent tool for clearing snow. Unlike leaf blowers, they are specially designed to handle heavy, wet snow, making them ideal in regions with frequent, intense snowfall. They do, but, come with a higher cost and can be quite bulky to store.

Snow Pushers: A middle-ground solution that’s less strenuous than shoveling but without the need for power like blowers. They are best used to push snow off flat surfaces and are particularly effective on powdery snow.

De-icing Products: Rock salt or calcium chloride can be applied before or after snowfall to prevent ice build-up. While effective, they require careful handling and may have environmental impacts.

A Snow Removal Service: Riverwood Landscape of Guelph meets your needs for speed, efficiency, and environmental friendliness when it comes to snow removal. We have the tools and the manpower to get the job done. Make your winter clean-up easier by choosing wisely and always be prepared for whatever the winter season throws your way.

Author

Colin Thomas MacMillan

Colin Thomas MacMillan, CEO of Riverwood Landscape, boasts over 8 years of expertise in landscaping and 3 years in transportation and logistics. A prominent figure, he serves as a board member for the Waterloo Chapter of Landscape Ontario and has been a vital part of the community for five years. Recognized for his insights, Colin has contributed to major industry events, including LeadsCON 2023. His entrepreneurial journey in landscaping began post-high school, driven by a lifelong aspiration and self-taught skills. Outside work, Colin's interests span history and video games, and he's dedicated three years to learning German, reflecting his commitment to personal growth. His professional ethos emphasizes a resilient, people-first approach, advocating for mastering current tasks and prioritizing quality in business and client relations. An avid reader of industry articles and an active networker, Colin's dynamic approach to professional development cements his status as a leader and an inspiration in landscaping and logistics.
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