With the extreme winter weather including record snowfall amounts in most of the USA this winter, I thought it would be a good idea to post about snow blower maintenance. Usually maintenance is done at the beginning or at the end of your snow blowing season. The extreme weather is causing people to use snow blowers more often and using them for extended periods of time. So to keep your machine in top condition and prevent premature wear on your expensive investment consider doing a mid-season tune up. Also, for safety purposes, before you attempt any sort of maintenance make sure you are doing it in a safe manner and according to the directions supplied by the manufacturer. If you are not comfortable doing it by yourself either have a friend or neighbor with small engine knowledge assist you, or take it into a small engine repair shop to have them give the snow blower a look over. Before attempting any sort of small engine repair unplug the spark plug to prevent any potential accidental engine starts. When finished plug the spark plug back in or you will have a hard time starting the snow blower the next time you need it. I feel the need to add this warning because snow blowers can cause significant hand and finger trauma. Neither I or Tools In Action wants to be responsible for any potential injuries!
While I can't know what every Snow Blower manufacturer recommends on their tune up intervals it's usually based on the number of hours you have ran the unit. My Toro Power Max 726 recommends oil changes every 25 hours of use. Like all things, this is a recommendation. It is a good idea to check your engine oil. Make sure your small engine isn't running low on engine oil, and also if the engine oil is looking dark and dirty it's time to consider doing an oil change. I know it is not fun changing oil in frigid temps, but if you can find a day with decent weather it's a quick thing you can do and one of the most important things to prolong the life of the unit. While you are changing the oil consult your owner's manual on how to change the oil, what type, weight and amount of oil to fill the motor with. If you are a fan of the TIA videos you know that Dan and Eric promote keeping your gas fresh and treated with fuel stabilizer. Bad gas causes most starting and running issues with small engines. If your fuel is getting more than a few months old either with a fuel stabilizer added or not it's time to consider getting new fuel for your snow blower. You can add small amounts of plain gas to your automobile engine so you're not wasting your money. If your snow blower is running rough, drain out the old gas with a fuel transfer pump and replace with clean treated fuel. I would also recommend adding some carburetor cleaner to the fuel in the gas tank. Also, check the spark plug to make sure it is in good condition. If it looks dirty, clean it or replace it. Spark plugs are not that expensive so personally I would just replace it if it looks worn.
WARNING IF YOUR SNOW BLOWER USES 2 CYCLE OIL AND THE GAS CAN HAS 2 CYCLE OIL IN IT DO NOT ADD IT TOO YOUR AUTOMOBILES GAS TANK!
While you're spending the time working on your snow blower it is a good idea to adjust the scraper bar and snow skids on your Two stage snow blower. If your scraper bar and snow skids are getting to the ground adjust them to compensate for wear they have received. If they are getting worn out put it on the list of things to replace for the next snow season. On single stage snow blowers check how your rubber paddles and scraper bar are wearing and if there is any damage to them. If damaged replace them, if worn put in an order of new ones to replace the worn ones at the end of the season. Also check that any linkages are operating correctly and adjust as needed. This is a good time to check the air pressure if your snow blower is equipped with pneumatic tires. You don't want to deal with a flat tire when you need to use the snow blower. Consult the owners guide to find the correct psi to inflate the tires.
There are a lot of makes and models of snow blowers available plus different types of engines. Considering that, you need to check your snow blowers owner manual for the exact items and tasks they recommend you check and at what intervals. The main reason I wrote this article is so that people give their snow blower a good look over, and working correctly before the next big snow storm. I just hope to prevent any hassles of a snow blower that is not running in peak condition. It's only the middle of February and we have at least the possibility of two or 3 months of snow producing weather for most people in the USA.