February 21, 2018

Buying a Snowblower?

I know, Spring is almost here – you don’t want to think about heavy snow and getting out of the driveway – but some local stores are trying to sell off their inventory of snowblowers.  This might be your best chance to snag a blower that will make next Winter’s snow removal a breeze.  Well, one can dream, right?

If you’ve been eyeing a deal at your local hardware store and just aren’t sure if it’s the right tool for your needs, read on for some guidelines and tips for buying a snowblower.

Single or Two Stage Blowers:

Single blowers are best for snowfalls of less than eight inches and on level walks or decks. It works by picking up snow and propelling it out of a chute.  They are less costly, but can kick up stones.

Two stage blowers are best for big snowfalls and long, wide driveways.  It will have a stong auger to break up snow and ice which a blower sends through a chute.   These blowers can clear up to a 28″ wide area and had drive wheels to provides traction on hills. The auger does not touch the ground, so it will not throw gravel.  Two stage blowers are heavier than single stage and are bulky making them difficult to handle.  They can also be costly – sometimes moore than $2,000.


Electric starter – is easier to use than a pull-string, manual start

Horsepower – 5hp to 7hp should do the job unless you are throw wet, heavy snow or throwing snow over a fence.  For that, look for 10hp or more.

Headlights – nice for dark mornings

Snow throwing – your neighbor will appreciate the separate controls that allow you to adjust the angle of the chute and keep the snow off his driveway

Trigger drive release – allows for easier turning

Finally, you’ll need to decide on a gas or electric model.  All two stage and some single stage models are powered by gas.   Gas blowers require having a regular supply of fuel available and regular engine maintenance.  Gas blowers are also very loud.  Electric one stage blowers are quieter, but they are limited by the length of the power cord.

Recall: Ryobi Corded Circular Saws Sold Exclusively at Home Depot By One World Technologies Inc. Due to Laceration Hazard

Name of Product: Ryobi Corded Circular Saws

Units: About 12,400

Manufacturer: One World Technologies Inc., of Anderson, S.C.

Hazard: The return spring on the circular saw’s lower blade guard can break, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: This recall involves Ryobi corded circular saws with the following model numbers: CSB123, CSB133L, and CSB142LZ. Circular saws included in this recall have manufacturing date codes between 0836 and 0842 on the data plate near the trigger handle of the saw. Circular saws with a green dot on or near the data plate and on the outside of the package are not subject to this recall.

Sold exclusively at: Home Depot stores nationwide from October 2008 through November 2008 for between $30 and $70.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the circular saw and contact One World Technologies Inc. to locate their nearest authorized service center to schedule a free repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact One World Technologies at (800) 525-2579 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.ryobitools.com

Recall: The Toro Company Reannounces Recall of Electric Blowers Due to Projectile Hazards

Name of Product: Toro Power Sweep Electric Blowers

Units: About 900,000

Manufacturer: The Toro Company, of Bloomington, Minn.

Hazard: The blower’s impeller, which is a rotating component on the blower, can break, resulting in pieces of plastic flying out of the blower. This poses a risk of serious injury to the user or a bystander.

Incidents/Injuries: Toro has received 162 reports of broken impellers, including 28 reports of minor cuts and bruises resulting from projected impeller pieces.

Description: The recall involves Toro Power Sweep electric blower model 51586 that was manufactured between 2000 and 2002. The recalled units have serial numbers that range between 000055100 and 220255609. There are two decals on the main housing of the blower. One decal reads, “TORO Power Sweep” and the decal on the opposite side of the blower contains the model number and serial number (shown by the letter “A” in the picture below). The recalled units can be identified by a black impeller fan, which can be seen through the air inlet screen on the bottom of the unit.

Sold through: Toro dealers and various mass retailers nationwide including The Home Depot, Lowes, Target and K-Mart stores from January 2000 through late December 2002 for about $32.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled blowers immediately and contact Toro to receive a replacement blower.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Toro at (888) 279-3191 between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. Consumers can also visit the Toro web site at www.toro.com. The Toro Company has notified registered owners directly.

Dirty Grills Gone Wild

Get ready for summer now: 
Dacor is launching a contest to find the dirtiest grill in America. Its owner will receive a new Dacor Epicure 36-inch Outdoor Grill and Grill Cart and a year’s supply of Scott Shop Towels.

The contest is being promoted at barbeque competitions and football tailgate parties across the country, and will end the week after the Super Bowl. Organizers will also be shooting footage of grimy grills for a “Dirty Grills Gone Wild” video that will be posted on the contest web site as well as on other Internet sites.

Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges, which includes Joey Mac’s Smoke Stax, the grilling team of Joe (Joey Mac) McManus and Wayne Styck.

To enter, contestants must submit a digital photo of their dirty grill by Feb. 2, 2009 at www.dirtydirtygrills.com.


Recall: Fiesta to Inspect and Repair Gas Grills Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

Name of Product: Blue Ember Gas Grills

Units: About 47,000

Importer: Fiesta Gas Grills, of Dickson, Tenn.

Manufacturers: Keesung Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Unisplendor Corp., of China

Hazard: The gas grills can be assembled improperly exposing the gas burner hoses to excessive heat, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Fiesta has received 14 reports of grill fires. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recall involves Blue Ember liquid propane (LP) or natural gas outdoor grills. The recalled model and serial numbers are listed below. The model and serial numbers are printed on a rating plate label on the rear of the grill. The cabinet style grill has two doors and is silver-colored and black or silver-colored and gray. “Blue Ember” is printed on the grill’s hood.

Model Numbers Serial Numbers
FG50057 or FG50069 08K018821-08K018948

Sold at: Various home centers and retailers nationwide from November 2007 through June 2008 for about $450.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the grills, and inspect the burner hoses to make sure they have been properly assembled. If the hose is to the rear of the installed heat shield, the grill has been improperly assembled and consumers should contact Fiesta for replacement hoses, assembly instructions, and if necessary, for assistance in examining the grill.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Fiesta toll-free at (866) 740-7849 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, visit the firm’s Web site at www.fiestagasgrills.com (note: this is a .doc document), or email the firm at mnorman@fiestagasgrills.com

Compact Electric Grill

Now those of you living in high-rise condominiums can grill without worries. Fuego has launched the industry’s first outdoor, electric plug-in grill with an island configuration. Now you can entertain outdoors on the terrace or roof garden without the hazard of an open flame.

The Fuego 02 Electric features a powerful coil heating element with a reflector plate that reflects heat back to the grilling surface.

Features Include:
Slate and teak countertops with hidden storage
Cast iron, enamel coated grill grate
1,650 watts
Fully retractable weather lid
Built-in wheels for easy mobility

“The Fuego 02 Electric provides an alternative for those eager to entertain in style but are limited by space and safety regulations,”said Alex Siow, CEO of Fuego North America.

Recall: Cordless Screwdrivers by Menards Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

Name of Product: MasterForce 3.6-volt Cordless Screwdrivers

Units: About 42,000

Importer: Menards, of Eau Claire, Wisc.

Manufacturer: Great Star Industry Co., of China

Hazard: The battery can overheat and ignite during charging, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. There is no protective device on the lithium battery to prevent overheating.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm and CPSC have received three reports of fires. One consumer suffered burns to the hand, and another experienced temporary hearing loss.

Description: The recalled cordless screwdrivers are green and gray in color. “MASTERFORCE” is printed on the top of the tool. “LITHIUM-ION TECHNOLOGY” and “241-0717” are printed on the handle.

Sold at: Menards stores from April 2007 through May 2008 for about $30.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the screwdrivers and return them to any Menards store for a free replacement or refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, call toll-free at (866) 458-2472 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.menards.com

Time For a New Lawn Mower?

The End of Season sales are a good time to replace that old mower you’ve been dragging out all summer.  Newer models are more energy efficient and the gas models burn cleaner too.  Before you head out to your local home store, take a few minutes to brush up on your lawn mower knowledge.

One of your first decisions is whether you want a gas or electric mower.  Gas mowers are powerful and can handle long, dense grass.  There are many different models available.  On the downside, they require oil, air filter and spark plug changes.  They use a pull start and are often quite noisy.  You need to have a ready supply of gasoline.  Electric mowers are quiet with no fuel or exhaust emissions and require little maintenance other than sharpening the blades.  They start with a simple switch or push button and are generally lightweight.  The negatives of electric mowers include the limits of mowing within 100 feet of an electrical outlet- the length of the cord.  Cordless machines require a rechargeable battery with a limited run time, on average, of 45 minutes.

Both gas and electric mowers come with the option of being push or self-propelled.  Self-propelled mowers are easy to use, they move automatically when you pull a lever and stop when the  lever is released.  ( A safety feature to keep it from running away from you as they do in bad comedies.)  They come in a variety of models, but are more expensive than push mowers.  Push mowers will give you a workout and burn calories.  They are tough to use on hills or yards larger than 1/4 acre.

Side-discharge mowers leave lawn clippings to be raked.  Bag equipped models collect the clippings but add to the weight being pushed.  Mulchers finely chop the clippings and leave them behind to fertilize the grass.

One last tip: measure your gates to be sure the new mower can get into your yard.