How the Heck Do I Work This Thing: Snowblower Edition Thumbnail image

If there is anything Minnesotans are good at, it’s pushing a piece of equipment over an area on their property. It’s that time of year again, where we exchange our baseball caps for stocking caps, our work gloves for wool mittens, our lawn mowers for snow blowers. As the season changes and the winds of winter bring snow drifts to your driveway, you may be dreading pulling out the ole’ snow shovel or arguing with your kid to go build character in the cold. 

Instead, you may be considering buying a snowblower this year. If that’s the case, you may be wondering how to use a snowblower properly. While it takes a bit more work to get started than simply shoveling your driveway, using a snowblower makes the winter chore fast and easy. Whether you are buying a snowblower or are interested in adding a snowblower attachment to your mower or tractor, knowing how to use a snowblower effectively will make shoveling your driveway a thing of the past. 

Getting to Know Your Snowblower

Each snowblower, whether a push or a riding, has many moving parts that are important to be familiar with. When you buy a snowblower, read the manual and learn about how each part works and operates. Most blowers have the same basic components: 


The auger is one of, if not the most, essential parts of any blower. Its sharp blades help churn snow and push it up and out of the chute. Without a sharpened and maintained auger, your snowblower won’t be able to clear snow like it should. 


The chute is the second most important part of a snowblower. You can change the direction and height of the chute by moving and cranking the lever. On a push blower, the lever is typically on the handlebars and can turn left and right to change the direction, and in a circle to change the height. For riding plows, the chute lever can be found on the left hand side of the driver’s seat and can be turned and cranked to adjust the chute. 

Push Snowblowers

If you are operating a push snowblower, you will see a few different knobs and levers at the handlebars. On an Ariens blower, you will have a throttle control, a clutch and the chute control. By pushing down on the left handlebar, you can control the operation of the auger, while the left handlebar will activate the drive control. Push snowblowers also have an engine primer and a pull cord to start the blower. Similar to push lawn mowers, you will need to prime the engine, pull the cord and operate the machine manually, which makes these snowblowers perfect for smaller residential driveways and sidewalks. 

Riding Snowblowers

Because riding snowblowers are usually  mowers or compact tractors converted for winter use, you will operate the machine similarly to how you use it during the summer. By starting the machine with the ignition, you can engage the snowblower attachment and adjust the chute accordingly. Riding snowblowers will have a button that controls the auger, while you push the gas pedal to move forward. Snowblower attachments are rigid and stay facing forward while you snowblower , unlike some blades  or other implements you may have for your tractor or mower. 

Operating Your Snowblower

Once you have familiarized yourself with your snowblower, you can get started on clearing your driveway. To start your snowblower, turn the fuel on. Put the throttle halfway and prime the engine. While each machine may be different, priming the engine between 5 – 7 times is typically ideal. Once you have primed the engine, activate the choke, either on your handlebars for push blowers or on your side lever for riding blowers. Then you can start up your engine by pulling the cord or turning the ignition.

Once you have started your snowblower, turn down the choke and let the machine warm up for about 30 seconds or so. In colder conditions, your equipment may need to take a bit longer to warm up and operate effectively. 

For heavier snows on your driveway and sidewalks, it is best to operate your snowblower at a lighter gear and move more slowly over the snow. This will help ensure you get it all and can minimize the passes. For lighter snows, you can use a higher gear and move a bit faster. Once you know how to use a snowblower, it is easy and can be fun. Similar to mowing your yard, make sure you clear your entire driveway or sidewalk and pay attention to the direction the snow is blowing out. You can change the direction of the chute while you operate the blower, or you can mow in the same direction to ensure the snow goes where you want it. 

Other Snowblowing Tips

When done right, clearing the snow from your driveway can be fast and easy. Before the heavy snow starts falling and you lose track of where your grass meets your driveway, mark the edge of your yard with flags. This will help you later in the season and can maintain the integrity of your grass. 

Safety when snowblowing is paramount. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings and do not blow snow toward people, houses, vehicles or the street. This can cause damage and injury to those around you. Keep a keen awareness of the wind while you blow. While you may have the chute facing the direction you want, large gusts or even small breezes can carry snow to unwanted areas, including back into your face. 

Finally, it is helpful to finish a job by scraping off any underlying ice or other snow that may have stuck to your driveway. This will prevent prolonged accumulation and will keep your space clear all winter long. 

Blow Your Cares Away

Every Minnesotan knows how tiring shoveling your driveway can be. Buying a snowblower, or converting your tractors or mowers with the right attachments, can make the winter chore a bit more fun and joyful this season. Whether you want to clear your entire driveway or are looking to just clean up your sidewalks, a quality snowblower will get the job done. 

Find a snowblower that is right for you at Minnesota Equipment. We know how the tough Minnesota winters can feel, and we are dedicated to making it a bit easier. Visit a Minnesota Equipment location near you and find  top snowblower brands like Ariens and Toro, plus attachments and implements for your John Deere equipment. We have everything you need for a winter wonderland.