It may not seem like it but it'll soon be safe to put away your snow blower. But if you just shove it in the shed and forget about it, you might be sorry next winter. Do a little snow blower maintenance now and next season your snow blower will start right up, no problem. Here are the steps to take.
Siphon out as much of the gas as you can. (You can add it to your car’s fuel tank.) Then start the snow blower and run it dry. Since a bit of gas remains in the fuel lines, consider adding a few ounces of ethanol-free fuel, sold in Sears, home centers, and some outdoor-gear dealers. Then run it dry again. After the engine cools, drain the carburetor bowl. And when you fuel up next winter, use only fresh gas to which you’ve added stabilizer.
Change the oil. Today’s snow blowers have a separate oil reservoir like those in cars, and larger models have a bolt you loosen. Tip the machine back, and you can easily drain the old oil into a container. Once you’re done and you reattach the bolt, refill to the desired level. Your owner’s manual will list the proper type and grade of oil to use.
Swap out the spark plug. This is what ignites the fuel so the engine can start and run properly. If you didn’t replace it before winter, do it now. (Your owner’s manual may recommend a more specific frequency.) Coat the plug’s threads with anti-seize compound, and the plug should be easier to remove next year.
Stock up on spare parts. Two-stage snow blowers have shear pins that protect the engine and transmission by breaking if the auger hits something too hard. Keep extras on hand and resist the urge to swap in an ordinary bolt and nut. Also keep extra drive belts; you’ll typically need one for single-stage machines and two for two-stage models. This is also a good time to check for fraying in your pull cord.
Tighten fasteners. Check and tighten any loose nuts and bolts, especially on control linkages, which tend to loosen from the snow blower’s vibration. And on two-stage models, adjust the auger's scraper and skid shoes so the metal auger housing comes close to the surface without contacting it.
Check the tires. Snow blowers get the best traction with the right amount of air in their tires; owner’s manuals typically recommend 15 to 20 pounds per square inch (psi). Your owner’s manual will have the precise specs for your machine; it’s also on the side of the tire. Be sure to check tire pressures even on a fairly new snow blower, since many are shipped with over-inflated tires to reduce the chance of damage on the way to the store.
Take care with batteries. If you have a cordless-electric model, follow manufacturer recommendations (check the owner’s manual) to be sure they’ll last as long as possible. Recharging batteries, for instance, should be avoided in freezing temperatures.
Taking care of old fuel and picking up spare parts are things you should do now on gas models. Seasonal snow blower maintenance ensures you will have a snow blower that will perform when you need it next winter.
For more information on maintenance for snow blowers, contact J&J Small Engine Clinic.