Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Green and frugal snow removal

My trusty shovel, a hand-me-down from my grandfather who moved from his house into a condo as age was slowing him down, has served me well in the nearly two years of home ownership. Although a bit bothered by the dissonance of listening to birds chirping as I shoveled yet another round of snow today, I did finish the job even if my streets department had not. I am not looking forward to backing out into eight inches of snow in the street.

While I appreciate the low expense of my snow shovel, moving more than a few inches of snow from my inclined driveway and sidewalk can be time consuming. I looked into electric snowthrowers as I had a fairly short driveway and did not want a large machine I had to lug gasoline and oil to make it work. I finally purchased a Toro PowerCurve 1800 from Amazon.com in February 2007 and it arrived just after a big, heavy snowfall. Subsequently, there was never enough snow to allow me to use it so it was only recently I finally moved it from my basement to the garage for the first snowfall of the season. I was encouraged by its immediate reponse to turning on the power. My neighbor's boyfriend was still trying to get his machine started so I felt a bit superior.

The snowfall was a heavy one, mixed with sleet and freezing rain on top of the 4-5 inches of snow. Shoveling it was a bear and while I did not think my electric snowthrower could handle such a heavy load, I thought I would try it. Darn if the heavy wet stuff was thrown several feet! I was encouraged even if it was slow going and my chute kept needing adjusting because of the force of the heavy snow. Unfortunately, the snow stopped throwing less than two minutes later. I thought it was just too much for the machine to handle and left it sit in the garage to thaw. My neighbor's boyfriend did get his monster machine started and was kind enough to remove most of the snow from my driveway. I cannot say anything bad about the kindness or the power however polluting.

However, the next snowfall was light powdery stuff so no problem right? No, the snowthrower does not do anything at all except make a lot of noise. My snowthrower, that I had purchased at $100 off retail and shipped to me free, was an inert piece of mostly plastic. With the several rounds of snow since then, I have regreted purchasing the snowthrower. It gave me hope to spend a little less time clearing snow and more time indoors. However, it is now sitting in a repair shop supposedly covered by a warranty and should be functional in a week--just in time to miss all the snow we have gotten.

So it is back to the secondhand shovel that allows me to move five inches of snow in almost two hours. My body is getting a bit tired, but it is good exercise and I have some spectacular snow piles around my driveway and sidewalk. How frugal do you think my snowthrower purchase is?

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