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Become A Snow Shovel Expert

December 17, 2014

You might have seen recent articles that more than half of the US is covered in snow (and that doesn’t even take Canada into account).  Some places were blanketed with feet of snow in just a short time.  That means a lot of digging out going on.

We’re entering our third season selling the world’s best snow shovels, and so we want to pass on some tips on how you can shovel snow like a pro this winter.

Take care of yourself

Whatever you do, make sure you’re taking care of your own health.  Shoveling snow can be frustrating, with all the cold, damp, never ending snow coverage.  If you’ve ever been in the midst of a heavy snow storm you know how annoying it can be to finish your driveway only to look back and see another half-inch already accumulated where you’d just shoveled.  But never let the frustration get to you so much that you take risks with your health.

Health.com estimates that injuries caused by shoveling snow reach the tens of thousands each year (70,000 in 2008).  So when you start the job, make sure your posture is correct.  Make sure your back is straight and you’re lifting with your knees.  (Bonus: if the shoveling job is big enough, you may be able to skip your squat routine at the gym that week!)  And it’s not just back problems that people suffer.  A lot of injuries result from slips and falls, so make sure you’re standing correctly with good footing.  Wear good boots with traction and always test for ice.

Finally, if the snow is really coming down, understand that you’ll need to pace yourself.  Take frequent breaks to stretch and get warm/cool down and dry.  And remember to drink plenty of water.  Dehydration is a common problem when people are shoveling for a long period of time.

Have a strategy

Ever been to a hockey game and watched the Zamboni’s between periods?  Did you know there’s a universal pattern those drivers follow?  Likewise, there will be an efficient way to clear your driveway and sidewalks.

Realize you don’t want to repeat work where not necessary.  Start by clearing off trees, roof overhangs and cars so you don’t end up piling loads of snow back onto your driveway after you’ve finished clearing it.  Next, it’s best to start from the center and move out toward the final dumping spot of the snow.  Of course, the snow might get so heavy that you’ll need to heft it afterwards, but this keeps you from clearing the edges, only to pile them up when moving to the center.

Also, minimize the distance traveled.  Don’t push snow twenty feet when you can just toss it into a pile a couple feet away.  Of course, be careful of obstructions or anything that might be dangerous or damaging, but in most cases, your bushes and beds can withstand a few pounds of extra snow.

Tools of the trade

Having the right tool is key to a job well done.  Snow blowers are excellent but there are times when they’re not ideal.  If too little snow has accumulated, or if a hard, icy layer of compacted snow has formed, a snow blower might just glide right over it.  Even if you have a snow removal machine, it’s always good to have a shovel or two as well.

Orbit makes shovels in numerous sizes so you can get the one that’s right for you.  Start by determining blade width.  A wider blade will push more snow but may be harder to scoop and throw snow away.  Smaller blades are great for throwing snow, but not as efficient for pushing large amounts of snow at once.  And what about metal vs plastic edges?  Metal is great for rough surfaces that quickly degrade plastic and help when chipping away at compacted snow and ice.  Plastic is better for gliding over the surface, and particularly helpful for softer surfaces like wood or vinyl decks.

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