Snow Blower Not Starting? Try These DIY Fixes

When winter arrives and a blanket of snow covers the ground, the last thing anyone wants is a snow blower that refuses to start. Fortunately, there are a few simple do-it-yourself fixes that may solve the problem and save you from shoveling the driveway by hand. From checking the fuel to inspecting the spark plug, these troubleshooting steps can help get your snow blower up and running again in no time. It’s time to take matters into your own hands and tackle that stubborn snow blower head-on.

Check the Spark Plug

Inspect the spark plug

When your snow blower fails to start, one of the first things you should inspect is the spark plug. Over time, the spark plug can become dirty or damaged, preventing it from generating a strong spark. Examine the spark plug for any signs of wear, such as cracks or blackened deposits. If you notice any damage, it’s time to replace the spark plug.

Clean the spark plug

If the spark plug appears dirty but is still in good condition, you may be able to restore its functionality by cleaning it. Use a wire brush or a spark plug cleaner to remove any built-up debris, grime, or carbon deposits that may be obstructing the spark. Make sure to clean both the electrode and the porcelain insulator. Once cleaned, the spark plug should be able to generate a strong spark once again.

Replace the spark plug

If cleaning the spark plug doesn’t solve the issue, it’s time to replace it. Choose a spark plug that matches the specifications recommended by the manufacturer for your particular snow blower model. Installing a new spark plug can often solve starting problems, as it ensures a strong and consistent spark for ignition.

Examine the Fuel System

Check the fuel level

One of the simplest reasons why a snow blower may fail to start is due to insufficient fuel. Before diving deeper into the troubleshooting process, check the fuel level in your snow blower’s tank. If it’s low, refill it with fresh gasoline.

Inspect the fuel filter

A clogged fuel filter can impede the flow of gasoline to the engine, resulting in starting issues. Take a moment to inspect the fuel filter and ensure that it is clean and free of debris. If you notice any signs of clogging, replace the fuel filter with a new one.

Clean the fuel system

Over time, the fuel system of your snow blower may accumulate dirt, sediment, or other contaminants. Cleaning the fuel system can improve its efficiency and restore proper fuel flow. Use a fuel system cleaner designed for small engines and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it effectively.

Flush the fuel system

If cleaning the fuel system doesn’t solve the starting problem, it may be necessary to flush the entire system. This involves draining the fuel tank and removing any old, stale fuel. Replace it with fresh, clean gasoline and ensure that there are no blockages in the fuel lines.

Drain and replace old fuel

If your snow blower has been sitting idle for an extended period, the fuel may have degraded and become unusable. Drain any old fuel from the tank and replace it with fresh gasoline. Old fuel can cause starting issues and affect the overall performance of your snow blower.

Inspect the Ignition System

Check the ignition switch

The ignition switch is responsible for turning on the snow blower’s engine. If the switch is faulty or not properly engaged, it can prevent the engine from starting. Verify that the ignition switch is in the correct position and functioning correctly. If necessary, replace the ignition switch with a new one.

Inspect the ignition coil

The ignition coil generates the electrical current necessary for producing a spark. A damaged or malfunctioning ignition coil can result in a weak or erratic spark, leading to starting problems. Inspect the ignition coil for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice any issues, it’s recommended to replace the ignition coil.

Test the spark plug wire

The spark plug wire connects the spark plug to the ignition coil. It should be securely fitted and free from any tears or damage. Use a spark plug tester to check for continuity in the wire. If there is no continuity or if the wire is damaged, it’s crucial to replace it to ensure a reliable spark.

Ensure proper grounding

A proper electrical ground is essential for the ignition system to function correctly. Ensure that all connections are secure, clean, and free from corrosion. Improper grounding can disrupt the spark generation process, leading to starting problems. Clean any corrosion from the terminals and connections to maintain a solid electrical ground.

Evaluate the Carburetor

Clean or replace the carburetor

The carburetor is responsible for mixing the fuel and air in the correct proportions for combustion. A clogged or malfunctioning carburetor can prevent the engine from starting. Remove the carburetor and clean it thoroughly with carburetor cleaner, paying close attention to the small jets and passages. If cleaning doesn’t resolve the issue, consider replacing the carburetor.

Adjust the carburetor settings

Sometimes, improper carburetor settings can lead to starting problems. Refer to your snow blower’s owner’s manual for the recommended carburetor settings, such as the idle speed and fuel mixture. Use a small screwdriver to make any necessary adjustments following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check for clogged fuel jets

Fuel jets are responsible for delivering fuel to the combustion chamber. Over time, they can become clogged with debris or deposits, leading to starting issues. Carefully inspect the fuel jets and clean them with compressed air if necessary. Ensure that they are clear and free from any blockages.

Inspect the choke

The choke controls the amount of air entering the carburetor during startup. If the choke is not functioning correctly, it can restrict the airflow and cause starting problems. Inspect the choke mechanism and ensure that it moves freely and engages properly. If the choke is damaged or sticking, consider replacing it.

Verify the Oil Level

Check the oil level

Proper lubrication is crucial for the smooth operation of your snow blower’s engine. Check the oil level using the dipstick provided by the manufacturer. Ensure that the oil level falls within the recommended range. If the oil level is low, top it up with the appropriate type and grade of oil.

Top up or replace the oil

If the oil level is low or the oil appears dirty or contaminated, it’s essential to top up or replace the oil. Follow the recommendations outlined in the owner’s manual for your particular snow blower model. Regular oil changes are vital to maintain the longevity and performance of your snow blower’s engine.

Check the Compression

Test the compression

Low compression can result in starting issues and poor engine performance. Use a compression tester to measure the compression levels of your snow blower’s engine. Compare the readings with the specifications provided by the manufacturer. If the compression is significantly below the recommended levels, it may indicate a more substantial mechanical issue that requires professional attention.

Assess for leaks or low compression

During the compression test, also inspect for any signs of leaks or low compression. Leaks can occur from damaged gaskets, seals, or cylinder walls. Low compression can be caused by worn piston rings or cylinder walls. If you notice any leaks or suspect low compression, it’s advisable to consult a professional technician for further diagnosis and repair.

Review the Recoil Starter

Inspect the recoil starter assembly

The recoil starter allows you to manually start the engine by pulling a rope. Inspect the recoil starter assembly for any signs of damage or wear. Check for broken or tangled ropes, worn-out recoil springs, or any other component that may affect the proper functioning of the starter mechanism. Replace or repair any faulty parts as needed.

Ensure proper spring tension

The recoil starter uses a spring to retract the rope after pulling it. If the spring tension is loose or weak, it can prevent the rope from retracting fully and affect the starting process. Adjust the spring tension according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure optimal performance of the recoil starter.

Check the rope for damage

The starter rope is an important component of the recoil starter assembly. Inspect the rope for any signs of fraying, thinning, or other damage. If the rope is in poor condition, it may need to be replaced. A damaged rope can make starting your snow blower more challenging or even impossible.

Lubricate moving parts

To ensure smooth operation of the recoil starter, apply a small amount of lubricant to the moving parts. This will help prevent rust and corrosion while facilitating effortless pulling and retraction of the starter rope. Use a lubricant recommended by the manufacturer and apply it sparingly to the relevant areas of the recoil starter assembly.

Verify the Safety Features

Check the key switch position

Ensure that the key switch is in the correct position for starting. Some snow blowers have a safety feature that requires the key switch to be turned to a specific setting before the engine can be started. Verify that the key switch is in the appropriate position as indicated in the owner’s manual.

Inspect the safety switches

Snow blowers are equipped with various safety switches that prevent the engine from starting under certain conditions. Inspect these safety switches, such as the auger engagement safety switch or the drive control safety switch, for any signs of damage or malfunction. Ensure that they engage and disengage correctly to allow for starting the engine.

Examine the kill switch

The kill switch is designed to shut off the engine quickly in emergency situations. If the kill switch is engaged or malfunctioning, it can prevent the engine from starting. Inspect the kill switch and ensure that it is in the proper position. If necessary, replace the kill switch or have it professionally repaired.

Assess the Air Filter

Inspect the air filter

The air filter prevents dirt, dust, and debris from entering the engine. Over time, the air filter can become clogged and restrict airflow, leading to starting problems. Inspect the air filter and clean it if necessary. If the air filter is damaged or excessively dirty, it’s best to replace it with a new one to ensure proper engine performance.

Clean or replace the air filter

If the air filter is dirty but still in good condition, you can clean it using compressed air or by washing it with mild soap and water. Allow the filter to dry completely before reinstalling it. However, if the air filter is torn, damaged, or has been in use for an extended period, it’s advisable to replace it with a new one for optimal filtration and airflow.

Check for air blockages

In addition to the air filter, it’s essential to check for any other air blockages in the intake and ventilation systems. Remove any debris or obstructions that may be restricting the flow of air to the engine. Allowing a proper air intake is crucial for starting your snow blower and ensuring optimal combustion.

Consult the Owner’s Manual

Refer to the troubleshooting section

If you have exhausted the previous steps and are still experiencing starting issues with your snow blower, it may be time to consult the troubleshooting section of the owner’s manual. The manual provides specific guidance and troubleshooting steps tailored to your snow blower model. Follow the recommended procedures and suggestions to identify and resolve the problem.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Throughout the troubleshooting process, it’s important to consult and follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided in the owner’s manual. Every snow blower may have unique features and specifications, and adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines ensures that you perform the necessary steps correctly and avoid any further damage to your equipment.

In conclusion, when your snow blower fails to start, there are several potential causes to consider. By systematically inspecting and addressing each component of the snow blower, such as the spark plug, fuel system, ignition system, carburetor, oil level, compression, recoil starter, safety features, and air filter, you can often identify and resolve the issue. It’s always helpful to consult the owner’s manual for specific guidance and follow the manufacturer’s instructions throughout the troubleshooting process. With a bit of patience and these DIY fixes, you can get your snow blower up and running again, ready to tackle the winter weather with ease.