Snowblowing Tips

getting your snowblower ready for winterLooking for ways to make snowblowing less of a chore? Wish you didn’t have so many problems with clogs? These tips will help you use your snowblower more effectively, so you can spend less time outside clearing your driveway and more time indoors staying warm.

Inspect Your Snowblower

While your owner’s manual will tell you what you need to do to get your snowblower out of storage, there are a couple more things you should check before you use your equipment:

– Remove the shear pins and make sure the auger moves independently of the axle. If these parts rusted together during storage, a jam may bend the axle instead of breaking the pins.

– Check the engine manual for oil recommendations based on temperature. You may need to use a lightweight or synthetic oil to keep the engine lubricated when temperatures are below freezing.

Prepare the Area Before Your First Snow

Chains, rocks, toys, and other obstacles can hide in the snow, causing serious damage. Add some snow, and these objects become invisible. Clearing the area now will prevent breakdowns in the future.

Thick snow will obscure boundaries between turf and pavement. Placing tall reflectors along the edges of driveways and sidewalks will help you keep your machine on the asphalt.

Dress for Cold Weather

Reduce skin exposure as much as possible. Cuffed coats, long gloves, and balaclavas all help your neck and wrists. Dress in layers instead of depending on heavy clothing items. This lets you remove clothing as you warm up, preventing sweat and condensation that can freeze.

If you’re working on snow, you’ll probably need to walk over some ice. Cleats will help your shoes grip slick surfaces, while ankle-high boots will keep your ankle from twisting if you start to slip.

Consider getting a snow cab. It may be little more than a plastic bubble, but it’s effective at deflecting wind. This can have the same effect on your body as increasing the temperature by 15-20 degrees.

Keep the Fuel Fresh

It may be a few days or a few months before you need your snowblower again. This makes it easy to forget about fuel, letting it go stale and clog the fuel system.

Always add a fuel stabilizer when purchasing gas for your snowblower. This will extend the life of the fuel for up to three months. If the fuel is still in the gas tank after three months, drain it out and replace it with new fuel.

Let the Engine Warm Up

Carburetor-equipped engines need to be warm to use the right air/fuel mixture to produce maximum power, and that can take a few minutes in cold weather. Don’t start clearing snow until the engine idles smoothly with the choke off.

Look for Objects that May Clog Your Machine

While you’re waiting on the engine, check the area for loose items, particularly newspapers. They can easily jam your snowblower’s auger if you run over them.

Adjust for Snow Density

If you aren’t getting enough throwing distance, change how you’re picking up the snow. Increase the engine speed, move forward more slowly, and add more overlap to your passes.

Stay Safe When Fixing Clogs

Of the 6,000 or so snowblower-related injuries that happen each year in America, nearly all of them involve an operator trying to clear a jammed impeller.

Start by shutting off the engine and letting the augers come to a complete stop. Use your blower’s clear out tool to remove the clog. If it didn’t come with one, use a shovel or a broom handle to break up the snow. Never use your hands. Auger blades are sharp, putting you at risk of a cut, even if the machine isn’t running.

You can prevent clogs by keeping the inside of the auger housing and chute waxed. Snowblower-specific waxes are available, or you can use synthetic car wax.

Need to Refuel? Take a Break!

Trying to pour gas next to a hot engine is a good way to start a fire. Instead, you should go inside and warm up for a few minutes while your engine cools down.

After refueling, move your snowblower a few feet away before starting. This way you won’t ignite the vapors coming off of the gas tank.

Keep Spare Shear Pins and Belts On Hand

Shear pins and belts are sacrificial parts. If you get a major jam, these parts will break, protecting expensive components from being damaged. Have a few spares on hand, so you make immediate repairs and get back to work.

When you need parts or service for your snowblower, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We have a large parts warehouse, so we probably have what you need in stock. Looking for a new snowblower? We carry several major brands of machines and attachments, including Troy-Bilt, Honda, Woods, and Multi-One. We also ship parts and accessories for these brands and more across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit us online at

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