Get Your Snowblower Ready for Winter

There’s nothing worse after the first snowfall of winter than dragging out your snowblower for the first time in months, giving the starter cord a yank and… nothing. You pull again and again, but it just won’t fire up. 

The first snow is not the best time to find out whether your snowblower runs without problems. And that first snow accumulation is almost here—in fact it’s already arrived in some parts of the Midwest, including Northern Minnesota, where small engine mechanic Jason Clemmer runs Clemmer’s Metal Worx and Small Engine and Powersports Repair.  

Clemmer’s shop, located between the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park, is already servicing snowblowers. But the most common problems, he says, can usually be avoided through routine maintenance. He offers some tips for making sure your snowblower is up to task this winter, so you don’t get stuck shoveling.

Fuel First

“Ninety percent of the problems are bad gasoline,” Clemmer says. “Bad gas results in a dirty carburetor, a varnished carburetor, and tank rust or carburetor corrosion in older machines. Those are the main problems.”

Bad gas is usually old gas—fuel that is a month old or older, Clemmer says. He suggests draining a snowblower’s fuel completely before months of storage, or stabilizing it with Sea Foam Motor Treatment. When stabilizing, it’s best to treat fuel in your storage tanks right after filling. That way, you are only using stabilized fuel to fill your equipment. Making a habit of that is cheap insurance, even if you empty your snowblower every year. 

“Even if you drain your gas, or run your snowblower out of gas, there is always some gas still in the diaphragm or the float bowl, or whatever,” Clemmer says. “And every little drop is going to be stabilized. Because if not, small amounts of gas can turn to varnish and plug things up.” 

But even with stabilized fuel, Clemmer says, try to stick to the one-month rule. If 30 days go by without refilling your storage tanks, empty the old gas into your car or truck and refill the tanks to maximize fuel volatility.    

Oil, Spark, and Air 

Clemmer says to change the oil in your snowblower every year, using the oil specified in your owner’s manual. The spark plug should also be changed annually, as should the air filter, even though it might not look dirty. 

“Your air filter may look clean, but because of the gas fumes that go in there, it starts to break down the fibers and it won’t breathe as well,” Clemmer says.  

Mechanical Components

Check all of your snowblower’s belts for cracks and signs of wear and replace as needed, Clemmer says. He also says to check cables to make sure they aren’t stuck or stretched, and to lubricate them if necessary. It’s also a good idea to check the auger (always with the machine off) to make sure it doesn’t have any damage and isn’t hitting on anything. Lubricate the chute as well, so it turns easily. Lastly, if your machine has inflatable tires, make sure they have air. 

“People are spending a lot of money on these machines and maintenance is key to keeping them going for a long time.” 

– Jason Clemmer 

Sea Foam Motor Treatment in Your Snowblower:

  • Safely dissolves heavier petroleum residues and deposits that restrict fuel passageways and impair engine functions. 
  • Works fast to liquify softer hydrocarbon varnish from carburetor needles and seats, and clears out jets, float bowls and fuel nozzles.
  • Cleans deposits from intake valves, and cleans and lubricates upper cylinder and chamber areas.
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