DIY Snow Blower Maintenance: Essential Winter Care Tips

Winter is here, and with it comes the need for reliable snow blower maintenance. As the snow piles up outside, there’s nothing more frustrating than a snow blower that won’t start or struggles to clear the driveway. That’s where our handy winter care tips come in. In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential maintenance tasks to keep your snow blower running smoothly all season long. From checking the fuel and oil levels to inspecting the spark plug, we’ve got you covered. Don’t let winter get the best of your snow blower – follow our tips and be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws your way.

Inspecting the Snow Blower

When it comes to maintaining your snow blower, the first step is to inspect the machine thoroughly. This will help identify any potential issues and ensure that everything is in good working order before you start using it.

Checking the Fuel System

One of the most important aspects of snow blower maintenance is checking the fuel system. Start by inspecting the fuel tank for any signs of damage or leaks. If you notice any cracks or leaks, it’s essential to address them immediately to prevent fuel spills and potential fire hazards.

Next, check the fuel filter to ensure it is clean and free from any debris. A clogged fuel filter can prevent fuel from flowing smoothly to the engine, resulting in poor performance or even engine failure. If the fuel filter is dirty, it’s recommended to replace it as part of your regular maintenance routine.

Additionally, inspect the fuel lines for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any cracks or leaks in the fuel lines, they should be replaced to avoid fuel leakage or loss of pressure.

Inspecting the Oil Level

Inspecting the oil level is crucial for the proper functioning of your snow blower’s engine. Start by locating the oil dipstick or oil filler cap on your machine. Remove the dipstick or unscrew the filler cap and wipe it clean with a cloth.

Carefully reinsert the dipstick or cap and then remove it again to check the oil level. Ensure that the oil level reaches the designated mark on the dipstick or the correct level indicated on the cap. If the oil level is low, it’s essential to add the appropriate type and amount of oil recommended by the manufacturer.

While inspecting the oil level, assess the oil condition as well. If the oil appears dirty or contaminated, it’s advisable to change it to maintain optimal engine performance and prevent potential damage.

Examining the Spark Plug

The spark plug is another vital component of your snow blower’s engine. Regularly examining and maintaining the spark plug ensures efficient combustion and reliable starting.

Start by disconnecting the spark plug wire and removing the spark plug with a spark plug wrench. Carefully inspect the spark plug for any signs of damage, such as fouling or wear. If the spark plug is damaged or covered in carbon deposits, it’s recommended to replace it with a new one to ensure proper ignition.

Before reinstalling the spark plug, ensure that the spark plug gap is correct. The gap can be adjusted using a spark plug gap tool. Consult your snow blower’s manual or the spark plug manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate gap measurement.

Inspecting the Belts and Pulleys

The belts and pulleys play a crucial role in powering the auger and impeller of your snow blower. Inspecting these components ensures they are in good condition and can effectively transfer power.

Start by visually inspecting the belts for any signs of wear, cracking, or fraying. If you notice any damage, it’s important to replace the belt before it fails, causing disruption in the snow blower’s operation.

Next, inspect the pulleys for any signs of damage or misalignment. Ensure that the pulleys are clean and free from debris, as any obstructions can affect their performance. If you notice any misalignment or damage, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s manual or seek professional assistance to address the issue properly.

Regularly inspecting the belts and pulleys and addressing any issues promptly can help prevent costly repairs and ensure your snow blower operates smoothly throughout the winter season.

Cleaning and Lubricating the Snow Blower

Now that we have thoroughly inspected the snow blower, it’s time to move on to cleaning and lubricating the machine. Regular cleaning and lubrication help maintain the performance and longevity of your snow blower.

Removing Snow and Ice Buildup

During use, snow and ice can accumulate on various parts of your snow blower. It’s important to remove this buildup regularly to prevent clogs, damage, and performance issues.

Start by turning off the snow blower and allowing it to cool down. Use a plastic snow shovel or brush to carefully remove any snow or ice from the chute, auger housing, and any other areas where it has accumulated. Avoid using metal tools that could damage the surfaces of the machine.

Pay special attention to the auger blades and ensure they are free from any ice or debris. Clearing the auger blades prevents clogs and ensures efficient snow throwing.

Cleaning the Chute and Auger

Cleaning the chute and auger is essential to maintain smooth snow discharge and prevent clogs. Start by disconnecting the spark plug wire to ensure the machine is not accidentally started during cleaning.

Use a small brush or your hands (while wearing protective gloves) to clear any snow, ice, or debris from the chute and auger. Take extra care when removing any lodged objects, making sure to avoid damaging the chute or auger blades.

After removing the debris, it’s advisable to thoroughly clean the chute and auger surfaces using a gentle detergent solution and a soft cloth. Rinse with clean water and allow the chute and auger to dry completely before reassembling the machine.

Lubricating Moving Parts

Lubricating the moving parts of your snow blower helps reduce friction, prevent rust, and ensure smooth operation. It’s important to use the appropriate lubricant recommended by the manufacturer for each specific part.

Start by lubricating the auger shaft and impeller shaft with a high-quality lubricant. Ensure that the lubricant reaches all the necessary areas and wipe off any excess.

Next, apply lubricant to any other moving parts, such as the chute rotation mechanism, control cables, and any pivoting points. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct lubricant and application method for each component.

Lubricating the moving parts regularly not only helps maintain the performance of your snow blower but also extends its lifespan.

Checking and Adjusting the Skid Shoes

Skid shoes are important components that help control the height and clearance of your snow blower. Regularly checking and adjusting the skid shoes ensures the proper functioning of the machine and prevents damage to the surface you’re clearing.

Inspect the skid shoes for any signs of wear or damage. If the skid shoes are worn or uneven, it’s crucial to replace them to maintain optimal performance.

To adjust the skid shoes, lift the front of the snow blower slightly off the ground. Rotate the skid shoes to the desired height, ensuring that they are level and evenly adjusted. Properly adjusted skid shoes ensure that your snow blower clears snow evenly without damaging the surface.

Replacing and Sharpening Parts

Even with regular maintenance, certain parts of your snow blower may require replacement or sharpening over time. Properly maintaining and replacing these parts ensures the machine continues to operate efficiently and effectively.

Replacing the Fuel Filter

The fuel filter plays a crucial role in preventing debris and contaminants from entering the engine. Over time, the fuel filter may become clogged or worn out, affecting the machine’s performance.

To replace the fuel filter, start by locating the filter. The location may vary depending on the make and model of your snow blower. Consult the manufacturer’s manual or seek professional advice if you’re unsure about the exact location.

Once you’ve located the fuel filter, carefully detach the fuel lines connected to it. Use a container to catch any fuel that may spill during the process. Remove the old filter and replace it with a new one, ensuring that it is securely connected to the fuel lines.

After replacing the fuel filter, check for any leaks and ensure that the fuel lines are properly connected and tightened.

Replacing the Engine Oil

Regularly changing the engine oil is essential to maintain the performance and longevity of your snow blower’s engine. Over time, oil can become contaminated and lose its lubricating properties, which can result in engine damage.

Start by warming up the engine for a few minutes to make the oil easier to drain. Once the engine is warm, disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting.

Locate the oil drain plug on the engine’s crankcase and place a suitable container beneath it to catch the oil. Carefully remove the drain plug and allow the oil to drain completely.

After draining the oil, replace the drain plug and refill the engine with the recommended type and amount of fresh oil. It’s important to use the correct oil viscosity for your specific snow blower model to ensure proper lubrication and prevent engine damage.

Sharpening the Auger Blades

The auger blades are critical components that help cut and break up the snow for efficient throwing. Over time, the blades can become dull and less effective, requiring sharpening to maintain optimal performance.

Start by disconnecting the spark plug wire to ensure the machine is not accidentally started during the sharpening process. Locate the auger blades and carefully remove them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations or consult a professional to sharpen the blades effectively. It’s essential to ensure that the blades are sharpened evenly and properly, as uneven sharpening can cause imbalance and result in decreased performance or cause damage to the machine.

After sharpening the blades, carefully reinstall them according to the manufacturer’s instructions, making sure they are securely fastened.

Replacing the Shear Pins

Shear pins are designed to break under excessive force, protecting the auger and engine from damage. They are sacrificial parts intended to be easily replaced when needed.

Inspect the shear pins for any signs of damage or wear. If a shear pin is broken or worn, it’s crucial to replace it promptly to ensure proper operation of the snow blower and prevent damage to other components.

To replace a shear pin, start by disconnecting the spark plug wire to make sure the machine cannot start accidentally. Locate the shear pins on the auger shaft and carefully remove the broken or worn pin.

Replace the shear pin with a new one, ensuring that it aligns properly with the auger shaft and auger blade. It’s important to use the correct shear pin type and size recommended by the manufacturer to ensure proper functioning and optimum safety.

Storing the Snow Blower for the Off-season

When winter comes to an end, it’s important to properly store your snow blower to ensure its longevity and optimal performance when you need it next winter.

Draining the Fuel System

Before storing your snow blower, it’s crucial to drain the fuel system to prevent fuel from deteriorating and causing potential damage to the engine. Start by running the snow blower until the fuel tank is almost empty. Allow the engine to cool before proceeding.

Next, locate the fuel line and carefully disconnect it from the fuel tank. Position a container beneath the fuel line to catch any remaining fuel. Allow the fuel to drain completely, and then reconnect the fuel line securely.

To ensure that no fuel residue remains in the carburetor, it’s recommended to start the engine and let it run until it shuts off due to lack of fuel.

Cleaning and Drying the Snow Blower

Before storing your snow blower, it’s essential to thoroughly clean and dry it. Start by removing any snow or debris from the machine’s surfaces, including the chute, auger housing, and other areas.

Use a mild detergent solution and a soft cloth or brush to clean the snow blower thoroughly. Pay attention to areas that may have accumulated oil, dirt, or grease. Rinse with clean water and allow the machine to dry completely before storing it.

Removing the Battery (if applicable)

If your snow blower has a battery, it’s important to remove it before storage. Disconnect the battery cables, starting with the negative (black) cable followed by the positive (red) cable. Clean the battery terminals with a battery terminal cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water to remove any corrosion.

Store the battery in a cool, dry place that is protected from extreme temperatures. It’s important to periodically check the battery’s charge during the off-season and recharge it if necessary.

Covering and Storing the Snow Blower

To protect your snow blower from dust, debris, and moisture during storage, it’s recommended to cover it with a suitable protective cover. Ensure that the snow blower is completely dry before covering it to prevent the formation of mold or rust.

Store the snow blower in a clean, dry area that is free from extreme temperatures and humidity. Keeping the machine in a well-ventilated space helps prevent moisture buildup and potential damage.

Safety Precautions

While performing maintenance tasks on your snow blower, it’s essential to prioritize safety to prevent accidents or injuries. Here are some important safety precautions to keep in mind:

Disconnecting the Spark Plug Wire

Before performing any maintenance or inspection tasks, always disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental engine starting. This ensures that the machine remains inoperable and reduces the risk of injury.

Avoiding Loose Clothing and Jewelry

When working on your snow blower, it’s important to avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in moving parts. Loose items can become entangled, causing serious injury or damage to the machine. Consider wearing fitted clothing and removing any jewelry before performing maintenance tasks.

Using Proper Lifting Techniques

Snow blowers can be heavy and cumbersome, so it’s crucial to use proper lifting techniques to prevent strains or injuries. When lifting or maneuvering the machine, squat down, use your legs and core muscles, and lift with your knees rather than your back. If the snow blower is particularly heavy, consider asking for assistance.

Keeping Children and Pets at a Safe Distance

Ensure that children and pets are kept at a safe distance while you’re working on your snow blower. The machine’s moving parts and sharp blades can cause serious injuries if not used properly or if someone accidentally comes into contact with them. Always prioritize safety and work in an area that is inaccessible to children and pets.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Sometimes, despite your best efforts in maintenance, you may encounter common issues with your snow blower. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you identify and address these problems:

Engine Won’t Start

If your snow blower’s engine fails to start, it could be due to a variety of reasons. Start by checking the fuel level, ensuring that there is sufficient fuel in the tank. Check the spark plug to make sure it’s clean and properly connected.

If the fuel and spark plug are not the issue, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s manual or seek professional assistance to diagnose and fix the problem. It could be a more complex issue that requires expert intervention.

Blower Doesn’t Throw Snow Far Enough

If your snow blower is not throwing snow as far as it used to, it may indicate an issue with the impeller or auger. Check for any obstructions or debris in the chute or auger housing that may be impeding the snow discharge.

Inspect the auger blades for any signs of damage or dullness. If the blades are worn or damaged, they may need to be replaced or sharpened to restore optimal performance.

Snow Blower Vibrates Excessively

Excessive vibration during operation may be a sign of unbalanced or damaged components. Inspect the belts, pulleys, and other moving parts for any signs of wear, damage, or misalignment. Tighten loose bolts or screws that may be contributing to the vibration.

If the excessive vibration persists, it’s recommended to consult the manufacturer’s manual or seek professional assistance to accurately diagnose and resolve the issue.

Auger Doesn’t Rotate

If the auger fails to rotate, there may be a problem with the drive system. Inspect the belts and pulleys to ensure they are properly connected and not worn or damaged. Check that the auger engagement control is properly adjusted and engaging the drive system.

If the auger still doesn’t rotate, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s manual or seek professional assistance to diagnose and address the issue correctly. Attempting to repair complex drive system problems without appropriate knowledge or experience may cause further damage.

Additional Tips and Recommendations

To ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your snow blower, here are a few additional tips and recommendations:

Regularly Inspecting and Cleaning the Air Filter

An air filter that is clogged with dirt and debris can affect the engine’s performance and reduce efficiency. Regularly inspect and clean the air filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If the filter is damaged or excessively dirty, replace it with a new one.

Checking and Adjusting the Tire Pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is crucial for optimal traction and maneuverability of your snow blower. Regularly check the tire pressure and adjust it as needed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Proper tire pressure ensures safe and efficient operation.

Using Fresh Fuel

Using fresh fuel is important for the proper functioning of your snow blower. Avoid using stale or old fuel that may have accumulated moisture or become contaminated. It’s recommended to use fresh fuel each winter season and avoid storing fuel for extended periods.

Following the Manufacturer’s Manual

Always consult the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions and recommendations regarding maintenance tasks, parts replacement, or troubleshooting. Each snow blower model may have unique specifications and requirements that should be followed to ensure safety and optimal performance.

By following these maintenance tips and recommendations, you can ensure that your snow blower remains in top condition throughout the winter season. Regular inspections, cleanings, and lubrication will not only extend its lifespan but also guarantee efficient snow clearing, making winter chores more manageable and enjoyable.