Snowblower Maintenance Tips on Caring for Your Snowblower
Snowblower maintenance should be given a lot of thought. Snow blowers are expensive investments, but when properly maintained, you can get several years out of them.
However, since these machines are only needed during the winter season, they spend quite a lot of time in storage. And if not properly stored, these machines can wear down faster than if you use them more frequently. So before you buy a snow blower, make sure you know just how much care it requires so you can prepare for the challenge ahead.
If you buy a snow blower from a good brand, chances are that you’ll have less maintenance and quality issues to worry about. But still, you need to provide basic maintenance for your equipment to keep it running nicely. And these maintenance checks should be carried out at the start of every winter season.
There are many steps required in a regular snowblower maintenance so you will be able to cover all the components of your machine.
First, check the drive belts to see if they’re still in good condition. The drive belts can get loose, worn, or frayed easily, and may need to be replaced.
Next, check the tires to see if they are properly inflated. To be sure, always re-inflate the tires every year. If they’re too worn out, you can also consider replacing them. Remember that the tires bear the heaviest brunt every time you use your snowblower, so they can get easily worn out. The same goes for the scraper bar, whose role is to scrape against the ground to get every inch of snow off. That kind of work will easily worn down even the most sturdy material, so do not neglect the scraper bar.
After that, take a good look at the auger. If you have a two stage snowblower, you also need to check the impeller. Make sure they are not damaged and that the drive mechanism is also well-lubricated before you start using your machine. You will also see a rubber on the auger; according to some, if you can fit your finger between the rubber and the snow blower housing, that is a signal that the rubber requires replacement.
After checking all the other parts, move on to the engine. Engine maintenance can be the most arduous snowblower maintenance task of all.
Conducting An Engine Tune Up
After storing your snow blower for a long time, you need to prep up the engine before the next winter season comes around. You can do this by conducting an engine tune up to make sure the engine is in good condition. Keep in mind that the engine, which are winterized especially for snowblowers, are different from other engines in some ways and that it requires more care than the rest of the machine.
Before conducting a tune up, double check what type of engine you have. Identify whether it is a 2 cycle or a 4 cycle engine. These are also called 2 stroke or 4 stroke engines.
A tune up consists of many tasks, which include the following:
Changing the oil
Checking the air filter and replacing it when necessary
Checking the head bolt torque
Adjusting the valves, especially in an OHV engine
Adding fresh fuel
Replacing the spark plug
It is also recommended that, when you do a snowblower maintenance, you also install a new spark plug every two years to keep your engine running smoothly. Don’t wait until you’re having problems to make the replacement. Prevention is key to extending your snow blower’s life span.
Here are some extra tips on caring for your snow blower engine:
Always have some fuel stabilizer on hand.
Always check if the engine is properly lubricated.
Do not use any kind of bolt to substitute for a shear bolt. Just to be sure, always keep some extra bolts on hand as well.
However, the best way to ensure that your snowblower engine will always be up for the job at hand, choose a snowblower with a good engine. Some good engine brands include Tecumseh, Briggs and Stratton, and Honda. Also, OHV or overhead valve engines are now more recommended for snowblowers than side valve engines, especially if you’re using a two stage snowblower. OHV engines are far more durable, and they are more capable of handling larger and heavier tasks.
On Fuel and Oil
Before adding fuel during snowblower maintenance, make sure to drain any remaining gas from the tank. The same goes for the oil. And if some gas is left in the tank after an entire session, add engine stabilizer so the gasoline will not solidify. A stabilizer will help keep your fuel fresh until the next use. However, if the gas is left over from last winter, do not use it. Always use fresh gas and oil every year.
For a 2 cycle engine, you also have to add engine oil to the gasoline for the snowblower to run. One gallon of gasoline will need at least one 2.6 oz bottle of engine oil. For a 4 cycle engine, just put regular gasoline in the gas tank and keep the oil in the crank case just like in a car. Most 4 cycle engines will need around 20 ounces of 5W30 oil, but it will be safer to check your snowblower’s manual for exact oil weight.
As a safety reminder, always fill the gas tank in an open area, not in a confined space, and make sure to do it with the engine turned off. Always allow the engine to cool down a bit before adding the gasoline too. If the gas spills onto a scorching engine, this can result in a fire.
On Electric Starters
Most gas-powered snowblowers these days come with electric starters. For those whose snowblowers are not equipped with a built in electric starter, electric starter kits are available and can be added to your machine. You then also need to include electric starters in your snowblower maintenance.
While these add-ons are extremely convenient as they allow you to get your machine going without the conventional manual recoil engine start, they are also quite vulnerable to problems. And since these electric starters have to get large engines going, they will also require a good amount of power to work.
To make sure your electric starter works properly, use an extension cord that is UL-listed and CSA rated safe and effective for outdoor use. It should also be a three-wire grounded cord, which is identified by its three prongs on the male side and three holes on the female side. You will then need a compatible power outlet. Your electric starter should have access to at least 13 amps of power. If you use an extension cord with a smaller gauge, you will most likely run into a problem and will shorten the life span of your electric starter.
Before using electric starters, check the capacity of your circuit breaker to avoid tripping it. If you have a 15 amp circuit breaker, you may install another 20-amp circuit breaker that controls the circuit you plan to use for your electric starter.
Electric starters are very vulnerable. When they get burned out, they cannot be fixed and will need to be replaced.
Finding Replacement Parts
If you need to replace a part of your snowblower, you can buy replacement parts online. As much as possible, you should be able to detect the parts that need replacement when you do your regular snowblower maintenance and tuneup. Don’t wait for problems to strike before making replacements to avoid compromising your own safety.
In shopping for snowblower replacement parts, you have two options. One, to buy a generic or universal part. Two, to buy from the same brand as your snow blower. It is always safer to buy from your snow blower’s manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues. When shopping, just take note of the exact model of your snowblower and try to get ahold of the specific parts number you’re looking for. Parts numbers are usually found in your snowblower’s owner’s manual.
Snowblower Troubleshooting and Repairs
If you’re having problems with your snowblower, immediately contact your manufacturer if your machine is still under warranty. If not, try to troubleshoot the problem first before calling for help. This will help you save money, especially if the problem is minor and can easily be resolved anyway. If you can’t repair the machine, that’s when you should start looking for snowblower repair shops in your area. Always do your research to check the reputation of a repair shop to be sure you’re leaving your machine in good hands.
Snowblower Maintenance for Your Safety
Snowblowers are very helpful equipment. However, if not properly maintained and used, they can also be dangerous. In fact, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC, almost 600 finger amputations and almost 6000 hospital emergencies involving snowblowers were recorded. So aside from maintaining your snow blower, make sure you’re also well prepared to use the machine.
Consumers are advised to wear warm, comfortable, and well-fitting clothes when using snowblowers. Make sure the clothes give you a good view and allow you to move with ease. Your shoes should in turn provide good traction.
Aside from that, always be mindful of where you place your hands and feet. If you need to unclog a snowblower, turn off the engine and use a long stick instead of your hands. In using snowblowers, always remember to put safety first.