My Top 5 Ideas for Dealing with Being Plowed-In
Winter supposedly is on its way. That of course means snow. It also means plowing. And that means you, having to get up right after the plow comes by and in just 5 seconds creating a bunker of snow that could take you half an hour or more to get rid of. Here's a mild example of what I'm referring to:
Pictures of snow always have a hard time conveying the intensity of the situation. Go ahead and give it a shot for yourself: this winter, when it snows really hard, and you have a huge pile of snow to deal with, grab your camera and see how many photos it takes to get that perfect shot that you can use to show people just what you went through, trying to get rid of the snow.
But if that pile is 2' high or more, it's probably about 3' or more wide, and it's not the light and fluffy stuff either. It's the hard packed, probably-contains-snow-blower-wrecking-ice-chunks in it pile of snow, courtesy of the city plow. (Your taxes pay for this service too, so good luck trying to get some sympathy from the city).
Since the city plow is just doing it's job by clearing the roads, the reality is you then have to do your job, at least if you want to keep yours, and that's to clear it off the end of your driveway so you can get to work.
In this article I'm going to share my thoughts on ways to clear that pile of frozen water off the end of your driveway. Some of these ideas are tried and proven, others are just theories. I'll provide product recommendations where applicable.
1. Use a Shovel
Traditions die hard, and something that'll never go away is the basic snow shovel. Why? It's cheap, easy to use, doesn't use gasoline, you can take it with you, and the list goes on. With all these positive features, you'd think it's the perfect solution.
Then you try and lift a shovelful of that hard packed crap the city plow distributed along the edge of your driveway, and yeah, your lower back just reminded you that shoveling sucks.
There are still ways to leverage that shovel in this case. You can hold the shovel so that the handle is pointing at the sky, and then chisel your way through the snow bank. It'll take a lot of cuts, but it'll work for breaking up the pile. -Especially if you have one of those aluminum shovels with a steel edge.
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2. Single-stage Snow Thrower / Snow Blower
So you have a shovel, but you need to hit the road soon, so you opt to start up your single stage snow blower, and run that snow bunker down to nothing with it. You clear off your driveway with little trouble, and have saved the best (or worst) part for last. Yes, the snow bunker at the driveway's end. You take your snow blower, approach the bunker of snow, and as soon as the paddles touch the bunker, they grab on, and tear the snow blower handle almost out of your hand as it jerks ahead.
Key tactic in getting rid of snow bunkers: get out there and deal with them as soon as possible. Sometimes they freeze into a solid ice-like mass.
Thankful that you have a shovel, you retrieve it from your storage area, and begin applying the chisel technique to break the snow bunker down into manageable pieces. When you have completed chiseling the whole bunker down to bits, you fire the snow blower back up and clear it all away.
-Dang it. -Late for work.
3. Dual-stage Snow Thrower
Time to Get Out the Big Guns
Now you have had about enough of this snow bunker clearing business. Every time you see a city plow, you mutter something only you understand under your breath. At night, when the plow comes through, you open your curtains, and make sure the plow driver can easily see you, as if that's going to make him reconsider plowing your driveway in.
-And it doesn't. He plows you in but good.
This time you are ready. You've sold your single-stage snow blower, and bought "Big Red" from the hardware store. You know that dual-stage snow throwers can chew through anything. They can even throw snow from your driveway all the way to the neighbor’s driveway. (Not that you would do that, right?)
You put on your winter outdoors clothes, and get Big Red out of storage, and fire it up. It sounds pretty awesome, then you run the throttle all the way up. Just the sound alone should make the snow crawl away in fear.
You clear off your driveway, and head over to the snow bunker. This time, you got out there on time, have the right tool, and everything should be good.
You take a test cut along the length of the bunker, to see what it's made of. It seems to go okay, so you go in for a bigger bite. Snow is flying out the chute, and you are making good time. Finally, you have just one more row of snow to go. You put Big Red in drive and head for the finish line. Oh snap! Hit a chunk of ice and broke off a shear pin! Now the auger won't chew up any more of the bunker!
You go back to the storage area and grab your shovel, making a mental note to stock up on shear pins.
Unrealistic Solutions for Snow Removal
Try at Your Own Risk
-Alright. In all seriousness, my first three methods were tried and true, and dual-stage snow throwers are probably your best bet for dealing with stupid-dense piles of snow.
But what about those crazy solutions you think about while you're getting rid of the snow? Below are two of my favorite 'unrealistic' snow removal solutions.
4. Ramming Speed
Let's say you got up on time, did everything you were supposed to do before work, and you're ready to go. You head out to the garage; open the garage door and OH MY GOSH! Who parked a white bus across the end of your driveway? Oh wait, that's just a pile of snow.
You check your watch. It’s too late to fire up the snow blower, and definitely too late to shovel.
You glance at your car.
Then you cock your head and look at the snow bunker.
Eureka! An idea is born.
You climb into your car and start it up. You slowly pull out of the garage, onto the snow-covered driveway. You back the car out of the garage all the way to the snow bunker, and back up to the garage again. Your no dummy, you want good traction for this operation to go smoothly, so you roll down the snow and create some nice trenches for your tires to get good grip in.
Okay, time to get real. You're at the top of the driveway. You can still make it to work on time, so long as you get on the road and leave NOW. You put the car's transmission in reverse, check to make sure the steering wheel is straight, and you hit the accelerator!
Your car blasts through the snow bunker, even catches a bit of air. You land in the middle of your street. You cheer, put it in drive, and head off to work; proud of your efforts and the time you have saved.
Some of your neighbors have been watching, and know something about the condition of your rear bumper that you don't know about yet.
5. Fight Fire with Fire
This idea will probably get you in trouble, so don't do it. But it sure is fun to think about!
You have just left the house, hoping to get to work without too much incident. After all, your car is in the shop getting repaired, because the rear bumper seems to have been damaged by the snow somehow. You are still short on shear pins, so after you get your car back, you'll get those. (You are borrowing your roommate's car, and they said no horsing around with it).
You open the garage door, then your eyes, and sure enough: another snow bunker.
You look around for something to deal with it, hoping that you don't only see the shovel. You see a couple canisters of gas, left over from the summer.
Minutes later, you have emptied both canisters of gasoline all over the snow bunker, and you are about to light it, and send that snow bunker into oblivion. You grab a match, light it, and fling it into the pile. And guess what happens?
Honestly I don't know. I haven't tried this method, so I can't hypothesize, but I'm guessing it either works totally awesome, or it doesn't work at all, and you just wasted a bunch of gas, and violated a few city and township ordinances.