DIY guide to winter snowblower maintenance

September 7, 2021

It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and it's only a matter of time before the first snowfall. However, you don't need to let Mother Nature take over your driveway — with these DIY tips for snowblower maintenance, you can stay ahead of the storm.

DIY guide to winter snowblower maintenance

[Photo Credit: Toncha]

1. Learn to identify the parts of a snowblower
The first step to snowblower maintenance is knowing what you're working on. While most snowblower models will be slightly different, there are a few parts that every one of them shares: the auger and impellers, discharge chute and deflector, engine or motor assembly (including belts and fans), and handles and control levers. Make sure that you know where each of these parts are located on your machine.

2. Gather the tools and supplies you'll need
Depending on which part of your snowblower needs attention, you'll need different tools and supplies:
●        Socket wrench with various sockets for removing bolts (most models will require an 11/16” or 19 mm socket)
●        Adjustable wrench to turn sockets
●        Utility knife or wire cutters to remove zip ties and other materials obstructing access
●        Screwdrivers for tightening bolts
●        Grease gun (if new gaskets are needed, you'll need grease)
●        Replacement parts as necessary. Make sure that the replacement items match your current model of snowblower.

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3. Common snowblower maintenance and repair tasks
Replacing spark plugs: If your snowblower doesn't seem to be working as well as it should, you may need to replace a spark plug. A faulty or damaged one can reduce power and smooth running (while increasing fuel consumption). Most models will require a flat head screwdriver or wrench to remove the top cover of your engine; this is where the plug wires connect. Gently pull them out, and replace your old plug with a new one.

Replacing the belts: If you notice that your snowblower isn't working properly or running smoothly, it's possible that something is wrong with the belts — they may be cracked or broken. First of all, make sure to unplug the machine. Then, detach all of the screws on top of your snowblower housing; this will give you access to the belts inside. Once you've removed all the bolts and taken off your housing top, inspect your belts for signs of damage. If they look worn down or cracked, it's time to replace them. Simply unhook both ends from their corresponding sprockets and roll out a new belt into place.

Replacing the discharge chute: If your snowblower's discharge chute is damaged or clogged with debris, it may be time to replace it. The process of removing this part varies by model — some require that you remove screws located on top of the housing, while others only need a few zip ties cut. Once you've removed your old chute, simply attach the new one using screws or zip ties (just make sure that it's securely in place before use).

Clean the fuel tank: A dirty or corroded gas cap can cause problems with the proper function and efficiency of your snowblower. Regularly inspect and replace it as necessary (if it's damaged in any way). If there is buildup on the inside of your cap, remove it with a toothbrush and some vinegar.

Clean the air filter: If there is dust buildup on the inside of your snowblower's engine housing — specifically near the air filter — it's time to clean your machine. Simply remove the housing and wipe the air filter with a clean rag. If your filter is severely clogged, it's probably time to replace it.

Before the first snowfall, be sure to check gas and oil levels, and change them as needed throughout the season. Inspect your snowblower after every use, checking for damage or corrosion from salt, water or other debris, and store your machine in a dry place during winter months, so it doesn't rust.

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