How to Maintain Your Snow Blower
Generally, the larger the blower, the more involved the maintenance will be. Electric models will require very little maintenance, if any, while gas models will require specific annual maintenance. A perfect time for maintenance is at the end of the winter season. Think about it – if you should winterize your lawn mower, doesn’t it make sense to “summerize” your snow blower? Maintaining the snow blower before you put it away in the Spring will help it last longer and perform better in the fall when you get that early snow storm you didn’t expect. As always, specific models will have unique requirements, so please refer to the owner’s manual for details.
Maintenance of the snow blower will be focused on control elements, operation of the turning parts (the bail system), and the gas engine. Depending on the model, maintenance may include:
How to Maintain Your Snow Blower
Controls – different snow blowers will have different control mechanisms. Any involving cables may require periodic tightening or replacement. Turning elements (cranks) may require a little lubrication.
Belts – usually, the engine will use a drive belt to turn the auger and impeller assemblies. Some people may refer to this as the drive system, others the bail system. Either way, it probably involves a belt and pulleys. The belt is susceptible to wear and probably needs annual adjustment and even replacement every few years.
Blades – this is probably the area where maintenance may vary the most across different brands and models. Some snow blowers use metal blades, others rubber, and some may even use plastic. Rubber blades (may also be called rotors or scrapers) will be designed to be replaced, and may even include some mechanism to show wear. Plastic impeller blades may be chipped, worn, or cracked. Metal auger blades can be bent or otherwise damaged. Inspect and replace as it seems prudent or recommended by the manual.
Stabilizing the fuel – before putting the blower away for the summer, you may consider adding fuel stabilizer into the fuel tank, fill it, and run for a few minutes.
Changing the oil — oil needs to be checked regularly and changed probably annually. Refer to the owner’s manual for the proper kind and weight of oil. Dispose of the used oil properly for your city or county.
Replacing your spark plug – the spark plug should be changed annually. Insure to gap it properly as specified in the owner’s manual. Before putting it back in, put a couple squirts of oil (use an oil can) into the spark plug hole and then put the hand crank or turn the motor with the starter a couple of times to coat the cylinder heads and valves with oil. Replace the plug to the owner’s manual torque suggestion (usually hand tight and then half a turn).
Lubrication – a snow blower may contain several bearing assemblies, and these may require periodic lubrication. The owner’s manual will specify if lubrication is necessary, and will advise where the grease fittings are. You’ll probably need a grease gun and Number 2 grease.
You can probably take the blower to a specialist for this kind of maintenance. I’ve seen rates run from -160. But, honestly, given the effort and time to transport it to the shop, you’re probably better off trying to learn how to do it yourself.
If you use your snow blower a lot, then you may want to keep a log showing hours of use. The maintenance schedules for these machines will be in hours and you may need to do some maintenance activities more than once during the winter season.
A new gas snow blower will need to be broken in. After so many hours of use, you will probably need to change the oil, make certain adjustments, and do some lubrication.
Electric snow blowers may need very little maintenance or none. Again, refer to the owner’s manual. Some lubrication may be necessary, and you may need to replace auger blades. They usually have some type of method to show wear – Toro, for example, has a wear indicator hole. Some more complicated electrical models may have adjustable control cables. You should inspect the electrical cord and ensure it is well secured to the snow blower and not cracked or worn; you should also check your extension cord. By following the manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations, and doing a little bit extra to “summerize” a gas snow blower, you’ll get many years of safe, productive use out of your snow blower.
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