How many times have you broken a sweat shovelling snow, only to look across the street and see a neighbour with a snow blower effortlessly clearing their driveway? This winter, make your life easier—consider buying a snow blower. Here’s what you need to know.

There are many upgrades or improvements available to ensure years of reliable operation.

Maintenance is simple but important to ensure your machine starts easily and operates properly. Change the oil and spark plug annually, use fresh gas (less than three months old) and give the snow blower a test start before the first snowfall!

1. Electric or gas. Gas-powered snow blowers are great for larger areas, but for smaller spaces, electric shovels are the way to go.
2. Dual-stage machines. Dealing with a lot of snow then dual- stage machines with metal augers can more easily handle it.
3. Single-stage machines. On the other hand, slush and wet snow are better cleared by the rubber paddles of single-stage machines.
4. Surface materials. Be careful with flagstone, paving bricks and patterned concrete—these surfaces will be damaged by dual-stage machines.
5. Engine size. If clearing a narrow alley or a shared drive, consider opting for an engine with more power to throw the snow further.
6. Width of auger and housing. Large areas and multiple-car driveways can be cleared more quickly with wider snow blowers.
7. Wheels or tracks. Wheeled machines are easier to manoeuvre, but in icy or slippery conditions, they can require chains, which risks damaging paved surfaces. Tracks rarely slip no matter what the conditions under the treads.
8. Electric starters. These machines can be far easier to start for teenagers and people with physical limitations. Smaller engines don’t generally require electric starters.
9. Headlights. In unlit areas, a little light on the job can be very helpful.
10. Handle-mounted chute controls. While these are helpful on larger machines, some systems are subject to freezing. Manual chute controls rarely fail.

Thanks to Jim Guest at Current Power Machinery for his guidance. 1661 Lakeshore Rd. W. (in Clarkson Village)