Troubleshooting a snowblower, repair and maintenance tips

If you pull out your snowblower for the season only to be greeted with a host of maintenance problems, don't immediately run to the repair shop. Basic problems can sometimes be solved at home. Many basic replacement and repair jobs aren't that complex, and dong the work can save you both money and frustration, especially if you don't realize it until after the first big snow. 

Gas doesn't have a long shelf life. So if the snowblower doesn't start, starts and then dies or sput-sput-sputters, check the gas. Assuming you have drained out the old gas, ensure you're using the right fuel for your particular model of snowblower. Check the owner's manual to find out what the manufacturer recommends. Also, pay attention to the oil weight recommendation.

If you're having snowblower problems and everything is in proper order when it comes to the fuel and oil, check the sparkplug. A bad sparkplug can make the snowblower difficult to start or run poorly. To change one, you'll need a replacement sparkplug, wrench and gapping tool. If you don't have the owner's manual handy to know which snowblower repair parts you need, take the old plug with you to the store.

Pull off the sparkplug boot, and unscrew the plug using the socket wrench. Insert the thread of the new plug into the socket, and hand turn for a few turns. Finish tightening with the wrench. Put the sparkplug boot back on, and you're done. 

Deposit buildup in the carburetor

The carburetor mixes the fuel with oxygen before sending it to the sparkplug for firing. Deposits in the carburetor restrict the process. If you feel comfortable doing so, check the owner's manual to find out how to remove the carburetor. If not, take it to a reliable repair shop. Sometimes a carburetor just needs adjusted, not replaced; the same rule applies.

The combustion process relies on oxygen. If the snowblower shuts off for no other reason, then check the air filter. It needs to be replaced periodically. Remember to change the fuel filter regularly, too. These will not only keep your snowblower running smoothly, they will save you gas in the long run.

If you've taken all of the troubleshooting steps recommended by the manufacturer, it's time to consider taking the snowblower to a repair shop. See if the repair shop that you've used for other machines, such as your leaf blower, also repairs snowblowers. Find a reliable professional, especially if you need snowblower engine replacement. Troubleshooting before going to a repair shop will save you money.

Often if your snowblower's not working it's because of a lack of maintenance. If you didn't perform some simple maintenance at the end of last winter, you'll likely experience problems this winter. Properly care for your snowblower at the end of each season should head off major problems. Remember to drain out all the gas and oil after winter. To drain the gas, you can simply turn it on and let it run until it runs out of gas. If you didn't, do so before the first use this season. Replace the spark plug before winter hits. Check the belt or belts for cracks and other signs of damage and replace as needed. For a final sweep, tighten nuts and bolts, and give all your handiwork one last pass.

Many small repair and maintenance problems can be taken care of with just a few tools and a little elbow grease. Before you run off to the repair shop, take a few steps to see if you can handle the work yourself.  

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