I know from personal experience that when winter sets in, dealing with your neighbors can sometimes be as difficult as dealing with the inevitable heavy snowfall that follows!
For many of us there will undoubtedly be times when we wake up to a lot of snow that needs to be cleared otherwise we won’t be able to get to work.
Or what about if it starts snowing heavily at night just as you are about to go to bed?
In both circumstances, you don’t want to upset your neighbors by using your snow blower late at night or early in the morning, but you also don’t want to jeopardize your own chances of making it to work to earn a living.
So in this blog, we look at the thorny issue of what time you can use a snow blower, and when exactly is too early or too late.
Let’s get started…
What Time Can You Use A Snow Blower?
Every state and country has its own set of noise regulations. For the most part, noisy activities are permitted between around 7am and 9pm. But in many areas, the use of snow blowers in an emergency is exempt from the rules, as it is acknowledged they often have to be used to enable people to get to work. Try to be considerate of your neighbors and avoid using your snowblower outside of 7am to 9pm, unless it is completely necessary.
What Are The Noise Regulations For The Area You Live In?
Every town and city has its own set of noise regulations, this was illustrated in our post on what time you can legally mow your lawn.
As a general rule of thumb, most of these bylaws have noise ordinances in place from around 9pm to 7am, which would mean it is acceptable to use your snow blower between 7am and 9pm.
These rules vary from location to location, and in many cases snow blowers are exempt from the regulations. The logic is that the benefit of clearing the snow exceeds the detriment of the noise.
In short emergency works, ie clearing snow, will usually trump noise ordinances.
But always check the rules for the area you live first.
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What Time Do You Need To Leave For Work?
Of course, another factor of whether you can use your snow blower at night or early in the morning depends upon your job.
For certain professions, a driveway must be cleared at a certain time.
What if you (or your neighbor) are a doctor or nurse? What if they are a carer? Or work in any kind of job that means they are on call at unsociable hours?
In situations like this, they might need to clear their driveway at times when you might be asleep.
Say they have just eaten their dinner and it starts snowing heavily outside, there are two options: 1) do it late at night or 2) do it early in the morning.
Either way it could well be during unsociable hours, but obviously that isn’t their fault if they need to have a clear driveway to get to work.
Now that said if you don’t need to be up early for work, and you are out at 11pm or 6am clearing a very light snowfall with a loud snow blower, then there probably is a reason for your neighbors to be upset!
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Are You Doing It To Stay Safe?
As we have touched on clearing snow is not like cutting grass.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t cut your grass, it can wait. However snow can stop you from going to work to earn a living and, in an emergency, it can endanger your life.
This is particularly applicable in the northern states of the US and Canada.
In these areas, it isn’t simply a case of clearing snow asap to stop your drive from looking messy, it is clearing it because that packed snow can quickly turn to ice.
And if that happens in an area where it won’t get above freezing for weeks on end, it makes things very difficult for the rest of the winter.
It is far better to try and prevent it in the first place than to deal with the aftermath.
Have You Spoken To Your Neighbors?
Talking of nipping potential problems in the bud before they emerge, if you think using your snow blower early in the morning or late at night will upset your neighbors, talk to them.
That is a key rule of snow blowing etiquette.
If you explain to them your situation and how the need to clean your drive late or early might be unavoidable, there is a chance it will diffuse the situation before it becomes an issue.
You could even help them out on occasion by using your snow blower to help clear their drives.
If it is still a problem for them, then at least you can relax in the knowledge you have done the best you can!
Are the Snow Plows Out?
In areas prone to lots of snow, you will see the town/city plows out at all hours of the night.
The noise they make exceeds that of any snow blower.
If they are out, it usually means:
- Some serious snow is on the way and;
- You can probably justify using your snow blower in ‘unsociable’ hours to ensure your drive is clear enough for you to be able to get to work!
Where Do You Live?
If you live in the middle of masses of acres of land then you clearing your drive is unlikely to bother anyone except those living on your property.
If you live downtown and have multiple neighbors all within a 50m radius, you will probably have to show a little more consideration.
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How Loud Is Your Snow Blower?
Technology has advanced tremendously when it comes to noise reduction over the past few decades.
I have friends who still use snow blowers made back in the 1970s and 1980s.
And, for the most part, they are fantastic machines, with one exception, they are noisy, VERY noisy.
Then I have a neighbor with a new single-stage Toro snow blower (other brands are available), and by comparison it is as quiet as a mouse.
This is something else to factor into the equation when it comes to using your snow blower late at night or early in the morning.
The more noise it makes, the more irritation it is likely to cause.
When Is the Best Time to Clear Snow?
This is a million-dollar question and one that will provoke different responses from different people…
None are right or wrong, and most people fall on one of two sites of the argument:
- It is best to wait until a snowstorm is over before going outside and clearing it, otherwise an area you cleared could easily be snowed over before you are done.
- It is best to clear a snowstorm as it happens to avoid potentially overloading your snow blower.
It will largely depend on how much snow is forecast and the type of snow blower you have.
If you have a commercial-scale, three-stage snow blower you can feel confident it can deal with snow up to 16 inches deep or even more.
Whereas if you have a more basic single-stage snow blower, it might not be able to clear more than six inches of snow at a time.
We will leave the last word to Barbara Roueche, Troy-Bilt Brand Manager who says:
“Whether shovelling or blowing snow, keep in mind that the longer you allow snow to sit, the more difficult it will become to clear. It’s important to plan your snow throwing pattern to avoid discharging material toward roads, bystanders, and the like, because thrown objects can cause serious personal injury.”
In terms of snow blowing etiquette, the most acceptable hours to use a snow blower are any time between 7am and 9pm.
After that, you are at risk of potentially breaching noise abatement laws.
But depending upon where you live, these laws will often have exceptions in place for machinery used to clear snow.
This is because often someone will have to clear snow to get to work, and they have no option other than doing it very late at night or early in the morning.
I mean what happens if you clear your drive at 8pm, head to bed a bit later and a heavy snowfall means when you wake up you have to clear it again otherwise you can’t leave your house?
That is why these exceptions are in place.
Remember unlike mowing your lawn in the summer, in the winter most people will have their (double-paned thermal) windows closed.
On top of that, the sound of the snow muffles the noise of the snow blower as well.
That said it is simply about being aware of your surroundings and only using your snow blower in ‘unsociable’ hours when you have to.
And most people will tolerate that.