Winter is here, and that means it’s time to get your snowblower out and use it to keep your driveways and sidewalks clear. However, after months of storage, it’s probably not ready to use. Here’s what you need to do to get it ready for the season, from getting it running to preventing future breakdowns.
Before you move your snowblower, air up the tires. This will keep them from rolling off of the rim when the machine starts rolling. Check the sidewall for the correct pressure.
Struggling to get a tire back on its wheel? Wrap a tie-down strap around the tread of the tire. Tightening the strap will push the sidewalls out, making it easier to get them to seat on the rim.
Inspect the air cleaner. Foam and paper air filter elements are a common target for rodents.
Remove the spark plug and check for any damage. Poor storage conditions can lead to rust.
Check the oil level. If you didn’t change the oil before storage, do so now. Acidic compounds left by combustion will break down the oil over time.
Disconnect the spark plug before doing any more maintenance. This will keep the engine from kicking over and starting while you work on the rest of your snow thrower.
If you’ve lubricated the cylinders before storage, expect to have some black exhaust smoke when you start the engine. This is just the oil burning off.
Apply fresh grease to the auger shafts, spacers, and bushings. On some models, you may also need to apply grease to the wheel bearings or axles.
Two-stage snowblowers have an auger gearbox that requires some form of lubrication, whether it’s grease, anti-seize or oil. Check your owner’s manual for information on the correct lubricant and instructions on application.
Operate the controls to make sure everything is moving freely. If you have a sticking cable, spray a penetrating oil into the cable housing and work the controls. Once the cable is free, apply silicone lubricant or non-detergent oil to protect the cable. Replace the cable if it’s frozen or crimped.
Apply wax to the inside of the auger housing and chute. You can use either car wax or special purpose snow wax. This keeps the snow from sticking to your machine, preventing clogs.
Belts stretch with use and degrade over years of exposure to temperature and weather changes. If you see cracks in your blower’s belts, or you find that they’ve stretched too far to transfer power, replace them.
These plates on the side of the auger housing control how high the main auger sits during use. Keeping the auger low helps it scrape off snow on pavement, while a higher setting keeps the auger from picking up gravel and soil when clearing out unpaved areas. To set the auger height, support the auger housing on blocks. Loosen the nuts on the skid shoes, slide them up or down, and tighten the nuts. Lower the auger and make sure it’s sitting level.
If you have a two or three-stage snow thrower, it will have a shave plate. This plate at the front edge of the auger housing scrapes up the bottom layer of snow to get a clean finish.
Place your machine on a flat, paved surface. Raise the skid shoes to their highest position. The edge of the plate, the wheels and the skid shoes should be flat against the ground. Adjust the position of the plate if you see a gap, or it’s lifting up the snowblower. Replace the plate if it’s bent, worn or cracked.
Clean Out Tool
If your machine came with a cleanout tool, make it’s on the machine. There will usually be a mount for it on the back of the auger housing.
While you may have a consistent lawn care schedule, snow can be unpredictable. Snowblower manufacturers universally recommend using gasoline treated with a stabilizer. This keeps the fuel fresh for up to three months, so you’re unlikely to have starting problems if it’s been a while since the last snowstorm.
Stock Up on Parts
Sheer pins and belts are both sacrificial parts. They’re designed to fail in the event of a clog, protecting more expensive parts of your snowblower. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep some spares on hand, so you can make repairs and get back to work.
When you need snowblower parts, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We have a massive parts warehouse, so we have common parts for most major brands in stock. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or order from us online at www.shankslawn.com. We ship across the U.S. and Canada.
Need a new snowblower? We carry stand-alone machines and attachments from several major brands including Honda, Troy-Bilt, Woods, and Multi-One. We also service the brands we sell, so we can help you get your snowblower back in working order.