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Snow Blower Troubleshooting-How to Fix Common Problems

No one wants snow blower problems when the first flurry of snow arrives. But unfortunately, snow blower troubleshooting at the start of winter is a familiar scenario for many homeowners. It starts snowing, and they get the snow blower out of the garage to clear their driveway before the snow builds up. But the machine won’t power up, leaving them in the cold.

Snow blower troubleshooting

Now they’re left with a choice — try and fix the snow blower problems or get the snow shovel and clear snow by hand. But hey — who wants to start shoveling snow when they’ve already bought a snow blower?

The most common problem with a snow blower is the auger not turning. But unfortunately, a snow blower is a complex machine with many moving parts. So, there could be several reasons why the snow blower auger won’t turn. And getting problems fixed promptly can help you avoid expensive repairs down the road.

Let’s examine how to troubleshoot eight common snow blower problems. For each issue, you will find reasons for the malfunction and suggested solutions to resolve the problem.

8 Common Snow Blower Problems

Troubleshooting common snow blower problems is typically divided into two categories. First, issues with the motor not starting. This could be a faulty cord or bad fuel. Second, the blower isn’t throwing snow effectively. It’s either getting stuck in the chute, or the snow blower is leaving the snow behind.

1. Snow blower not starting — Snow blower troubleshooting electric start

The most common snow blower problem is when it fails to start. Many gas-powered snow blowers have an electric starter to make it easier to start in freezing temperatures. But an electric start snow blower can fail to get going for several reasons.

Reasons Snowblower not starting include the following:

  • Too much current has triggered the safety mechanism, cutting power to the snow blower.
  • The extension cord is faulty.
  • There is a buildup of old fuel in the engine.
  • A defective spark plug.
  • The battery connections are corroded.

Solution: To resolve this issue, the first thing should be to check the electrical connections. For example, do other appliances work from the outlet or the extension cord? Next, check the battery connections if you think the power outlet and cord are fine. Dampness or improper storage of your Snow Blower can cause connections to corrode.

The next step to troubleshoot the snow blower problem is to check the fuel. Gas stored for over a month in the tank can cause a moisture buildup. Therefore, you will need to drain the gas and refuel with a fresh gasoline mixture.

If the electric start gas-powered snow blower still doesn’t start, you may have a clogged carburetor. In this case, you’ll need to clean it with a carburetor cleaner and fill the gas tank with the correct fuel.

2. Why does the snow blower start and then stop

A frustrating problem with a snow blower is when it starts fine but then dies. Unfortunately, this usually means that you’re in the middle of clearing snow, and there’s a blizzard blowing. So what are the quick fixes to avoid resorting to using a hand shovel?

Sorry to say, there is usually no quick fix when the snow blower starts and stops. This is because the reason is likely to do with your fuel mix. Here are the common reasons for a snow blower stopping and starting:

  • The wrong fuel mix if you have a 2-stroke snow blower
  • Stale fuel
  • Blocked or dirty fuel filter
  • Dirty carburetor
  • The crankcase has too much oil in it
  • Dirty spark plug
  • The fuel cap is broken

Solution: It will take some troubleshooting to locate the source of the snow blower problem. However, the best way to prevent issues with the machine starting and stopping is to change the fuel every 30 days and never store fuel in the gas tank for longer than a month. Additionally, pre-winter maintenance can ensure the carburetor is clean and ready for the winter.

3. Snow blower not blowing snow

Three problems with a snow blower can cause it to stop throwing snow. These are a clogged chute, defective impeller, and worn rubber paddles.

The first issue to troubleshoot with the snow blower is a buildup of snow in the chute. This problem usually occurs when throwing large volumes of heavy, wet snow. So, switch off the machine and unclog the chute if necessary.

If the chute is clear, then the problem with the snow blower is probably with the impeller or auger. Sometimes, stones or rocks can damage the mechanism that throws the snow. If it is broken, you will need to replace it.

A word of warning: before handling the auger or impeller, unplug the cord, remove the battery, or turn off the gas engine.

Sometimes some snow exits the chute, but not as much as expected. If you face this problem, you may need to replace the scraper bar or paddle. Paddles have wear indicator holes, so you know when to replace them. If the paddles are worn, the chances are that the scraper bar needs replacing as well.

4. Snow blower oil — Gas leak troubleshooting

Smelling raw gas when clearing snow is a sign that the snow blower is leaking fuel. A gas leak can happen due to wear and tear, corrosion, blocked fuel valves, a stuck float, or cracked fuel lines. After troubleshooting the cause of the leak, you will need to make appropriate repairs.

Solution: The first thing to check is that the bottom of the carburetor and the bowl gasket are not damaged. The most straightforward resolution is to replace the gasket. If the gasket has been replaced and it is not leaking any gas, then check the connection between the fuel tank and the fuel pump. If the connection between the fuel pump and the fuel tank is broken, replace the parts.

5. The Snow Chute is blocked up and not Shooting out Snow

Although wet, heavy snow is the primary reason for a snow blower chute blockage, there are other reasons why clogs happen. These problems can range from a foreign object stuck in the blower or a serious malfunction with the auger or fuel lines.

Here are some tips on troubleshooting a blocked snow blower:
  • Hidden objects: The most common reason for a chute blockage is a wet newspaper, dog toy, or landscaping material caught in the machine. If possible, ensure the areas to be cleared are clear of any objects. You can also mark pathways, driveways, or planters to avoid going off course.
  • Heavy, wet snow: Single and two-stage snow blowers are prone to clogging if snow is wet and heavy. Wet snow packs together and freezes to surfaces, resulting in a clogged discharge chute. Try clearing snow before it becomes too damp and compacted to prevent clogging.
  • Clearing too much, too fast: As a general rule, only clear half of the auger’s housing width on the first pass. This will prevent too much snow from getting thrown and minimize the risk of a blockage.

When cleaning a snow blower chute, it is vital never to use your hands. Instead, use a broom handle to release the blockage, even if you’re wearing gloves.

According to medical reports, there are nearly 6,000 snow blower-related injuries yearly in the US. The most injured body part is the finger, then the hand. Fractures, lacerations, and amputations were the most common finger injuries.

6. Snow being left behind by snow blower

Snow being left behind is just as frustrating as the snow blower not blowing snow in the first place. What are the most common reasons why this happens? There are several reasons for snow being left behind. Here they are:

  • A worn auger on a single-stage snow blower
  • Broken shear pin
  • Clogged chute
  • Trying to clear too much snow on one pass
  • Slipping belt

Once you have identified the cause, you can resolve it — either by replacing the broken or worm part or unblocking the chute.

7. Having trouble with the snow blower lurching forward and being hard to maneuver

It can be difficult enough trying to maneuver a heavy snow blower in the ice and snow. Therefore, the problem of a snow blower lurching forward can be especially dangerous. It could result in losing control of the machine or slipping and injuring yourself.

The reason for lurching forward is connected to the cable line that powers the wheels. Over time, the cable needs adjusting to stop the jerking motion.

Here is how to tighten the cable and resolve the problem:

  • Remove the cable from the handle and adjust the threaded cable attachment thread blower’s base
  • Reattach the clip and test the movement.
  • Tighten again if needed until the jerkiness ceases.
  • After tightening the wires, spray lubricant at the pivots of any moving parts.

8. Why are the wheels on the snow blower not turning?

Another frustrating snow blower problem trying to clear snow is when the wheels fail to turn. To troubleshoot this issue, find out if it’s a problem with the cable control, V-belt, or drive disk.

Snow blower problems

The first thing to check is the clogged belt and V-belt. These two parts connect the gearbox and engine. Therefore, if the belts are broken or damaged, the wheels won’t turn. So, you will need to consult the manufacturer’s instructions to replace the belts.

If the belts are still in good condition, then it’s necessary to check the drive disk. The drive disk consists of an inner rubber coating that helps grip and turn the drive plates. If the drive disk isn’t working correctly or the surface is greasy, the wheels won’t turn. If the drive disk is defective, you will need to repair it.

Other Issues When Troubleshooting Snow blower Problems

Snow blowers are useful power tools to clear snow from driveways, paths, and sidewalks. However, problems can arise with the blowers if you fail to maintain them. After all, snow blowers must work in intense weather conditions. They are subject to cold, ice, water, and salt.

The most common problem to troubleshoot with snow blowers is starting them in freezing temperatures. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to service the machine before winter arrives. This way, you can clean the carburetor, remove any old fuel, and check the fuel lines.

Another helpful tip to avoid snow blower problems is to have a set of spares handy. For example, belts and shear pins can snap unexpectedly. So, if you have these spare parts on hand, you can repair the blower quickly and avoid having to clear your yard by hand.

Snow blower Troubleshooting — In Conclusion

Troubleshooting snow blower problems can be frustrating because several things can go wrong. However, many fixes are relatively straightforward when you identify the cause.

When a snow blower fails to start, the problems are usually connected to the fuel lines or gas mix. But suppose you have issues with the blower not throwing snow. In that case, you should check the chute for a blockage and ensure the auger is working properly.