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Archive for Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fix-It Chick: Finding the right shovel for you

January 16, 2014

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If shoveling snow is not your favorite thing to do, the problem might be the shovel itself. Depending on snow type and personal preferences, choosing the right shovel can make or break the deal.

Step 1: Are you a pusher or a lifter? Standard snow shovels are designed to lift and throw snow out of the path. Long-handled, curved blade pushers are designed to push snow off to the sides or down to the end of the path. It is possible to push snow with a standard snow shovel, but it is almost impossible to lift snow with a snow pusher.

Step 2: Consider the weight of the shovel. Lightweight poly and aluminum shovels dramatically reduce the weight of the load, but don’t work well for hard-packed snow and ice.

Step 3: Choose a handle that fits. Shovels with handles that are too long or too short can increase the risk of injury. Handles with a D-shaped grip at the end provide added control for lifting and throwing. Longer handles make it easier to push snow, especially for taller individuals. Ergonomic handles that are bent in the middle are designed to eliminate the need for bending when lifting snow. An ergonomic handle can increase back strain if it is too short or too long for the shoveler.

Try a few practice scoops of imaginary snow before purchasing a shovel or pusher. If the motions feel awkward with an empty blade, they will feel even worse with a full load.

Step 4: Consider the snow. Light, powdery snow is best removed with any type of pusher or a poly shovel. If the snow is not too deep, a coarse bristle broom works great to sweep it away.

Step 5: For heavy, wet snow, choose an aluminum or steel shovel. Poly shovels are likely to break from the weight and pushers will tend to stop dead in their tracks from the heft of the load.

Step 6: Deep snow is best cleared with a shovel, rather than a pusher. Large grain scoops work well for drifts and piles left behind by snow plows. Consider using a standard round-nose garden shovel for large frozen piles of snow.

Step 7: Icy, packed snow requires a steel shovel or steel pusher. Adding a steel ice scraper to the mix, to break up underlying sheets of ice, can make the job easier.

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