Choosing the right snow removal tools for your driveway

Winter is not over! And in the Laurentians where the elements let loose more intensely than in Montreal sooner or later, you will have to clear your driveway repeatedly. When you know that by moving an average shovelful of snow every 5 seconds, you will have lifted a load of 1,000 kg after only 17 minutes, it is better to be well equipped: shovels, blowers, and de-icers!

The essential snow shovel


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The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) specifies that the ideal shovel is light – about 1.5 kg, or just over 3 lbs – and the length of its handle is appropriate if your back is tilted 10 degrees or less as you place it on the floor holding it with both hands. The blade should not be too big, and the handle made of plastic or wood. Metal should be avoided, as it conducts cold. Polymer shovels are ideal for fresh snow while aluminum shovels are easy to handle with all types of snow. The larger the area to be shoveled, the wider your shovel will need to be.

The ergonomic shovel with a curved handle, further reduces the inclination of your back and contributes to reducing your cardiac effort.

The sled or bucket shovel pushes the snow rather than lifting it – it’s better to avoid injuries! This big tool is essential for anyone who doesn’t own a snowblower but needs to maintain a driveway.

The snow pusher (or scraper), like the sled shovel, pushes the snow that rolls on itself. Build a pile that you will then pick up with a regular or electric shovel.

The snow rake is used to remove snow from roofs. Again, it is better to go in short bursts to avoid hurting your back or getting snow on you.

The scraper allows you to break the ice to facilitate snow removal. It is an essential supplement.

The electric shovel is designed for light work. It facilitates the clearing of a walkway or a balcony. Snow removal from the steps will however be more difficult than with a regular shovel, which is also the reason why many will prefer a small snowblower.

Protect your back while shovelling

Shoveling can be very damaging to the back depending on the amount of snow accumulation, its texture (wet or icy) and the extent of the surface to be cleared. You should therefore avoid too big shovels, too short handles, and excessive loads. Throwing snow over your shoulder or sideways is also not a good idea! Independent contractors should be the way to go for senior citizens to avoid a slew of injuries associated with shoveling.

Electric or gasoline snowblower?

The electric snowblower (corded or battery-powered) is suitable for small driveways and tight spaces. It will be effective in powder snow and not too heavy (between 10 to 15 cm). For example, it will be difficult for it to overcome the hem of compacted snow left by the city’s snowplough. Recent advances in battery power however have produced battery powered snowblowers that can compete in power with a medium gas snowblower (EGO 2 stage snowblower line)

Advantages: requires less maintenance than a petrol blower, it is also lighter and easier to store, can be used on balconies, without unpleasant odors or polluting emissions

Disadvantages: more expensive to buy than its petrol equivalent, not suitable for heavy snowfalls (more than 15 cm) and some components are more fragile

The gasoline-powered snowblower is suitable for large areas (parking lot that can accommodate more than 4 cars).

Advantages: cheaper to buy than its electric equivalent, effective for all types of snow (powder, wet, compacted) and large surfaces, no need to wait for recharging

Disadvantages: noisy and smelly, requires careful maintenance, need to always keep gasoline and motor oil, more complex storage

Sand, salt and ice melters

When a driveway can be cleared of snow, but it is slippery. Abrasives become necessary. Sand and gravel (recoverable) are generally sufficient to make a surface non-slip and Ice salt (sodium chloride) will be useful for melting the ice. However fluxes such as magnesium, calcium or potassium chloride, which are generally less harmful to the environment, will be even more effective than salt.