The price of fuel is soaring, and with it so are the prices of snow removal. This year we're seeing more and more people buy their first ever snow blower and are coming to us for advice and guidance. What is old hat to us in the industry is brand new territory for many buyers and we strive to give the best advice and service we can to make the process easier.
Every year we hold our breath during the first storm. By this point in the year we have so many units out in the field and if anything is going to go wrong, it will likely happen during the first big snow. Luckily many issues customers call us with are common, fixable issues without much technical background. Here's a few of our top issues and their solutions
Blower Not Starting
Getting your blower out for the first time in the season means you're already up to your ankles in the white stuff and don't have time for anything to go wrong. So when you pull it over and nothing happens, there's few things quite as frustrating!
Luckily there are a few things you can try to get it going.
CHECK THE FUEL SHUT-OFF
Not all snow blowers have a fuel shut off valve. If yours does, technicians recommend that people turn their fuel line off if they won't be using the blower for a while. If you bought your blower early in the season or over the summer, some technicians will start and test the blower then turn the fuel line off to burn through the fuel in the line. This stops fuel from sitting in the line and carburetor over the warmer months and going stale.
Has your fuel been in the tank all summer without stabilizer? This might be your culprit. Draining all the old fuel, filling it up again with premium grade and priming the engine may help fix your problem.
*TIP* - Gas station fuel goes stale in as little as 8-12 weeks.
A less common issue but a simple fix is checking your spark plug. Although spark plugs don't fault as much on 4-strok engines as they do with 3-stroke it can still happen. Check you spark plug for cracks, clogs or defects and replace it if necessary.
Auger has Stopped Turning
This one happens more often than you'd think and people often think the worst! Luckily this isn't as major of an issue as it seems.
Ever be blowing along, hear a large BANG then have your auger stop turning? Many people curse and swear at this point and fear the worst! Luckily it could just be your shear pins!
There are a few shear pins on your machine and they are made to do just that; Shear off! When you come up on a tough bunch of snow or snow mixed with ice and your auger is about to lock up, these pins shear off and stop the auger from spinning and potentially damaging the engine.
While this is frustrating for you as an owner, count yourself lucky that you don't have to replace a whole engine!
*TIP* - Extra shear pins come with all the machines we sell - as us where they're 'hidden' ;)
If you've taken a look at your shear pins and they're all in tact, the next place to check is your auger belt(s).
All snow machines have 2 sets of belts, one for the wheels (Drive belt(s)) and one for the auger (auger belt(s)). The drive belts will be further back (closest to the wheels) and the auger belt will be closest to the front of the machine - near the auger.
If you've got a belt that has snapped, stretched or worn bare with no traction left, it needs replacing. Belts wear based on usage. Some people have belts last 5+ years and other people replace belts every year. If you feel your belts are wearing sooner than they should, start looking at your usage.
Snow machines should chew their way through the snow at their own pace. If owners push, pull and force their machines through snow, belts will burn and wear prematurely.
Blower is No Longer Blowing Snow (or not as far)
A CLOGGED CHUTE (See below)
With any issue with a piece of machinery its important to rule out physical problems before tearing into the machine. Sometimes its as simple as a clogged chute that we'll talk about below.
AUGER BELT (See Above)
Once we rule out a physical problem, the issue then switched potentially mechanical. With this issue its most commonly a worn auger belt. Before an auger belt goes completely you may notice a reduction in throwing distance and force. Its one of the first indicators that a new belt is needed.
Snow is Sticking to the Inside of the Chute
The area that we're located is notorious for wet, heavy storms. This causes major issues when it comes to clogged chutes. That wet heavy snow sticks to the chut and can clog very quickly. Not only is this a complete pain but can also turn dangerous if you aren't careful!
CLEAN OUT THE CHUTE
Many blowers now come with a small shovel or 'clean out tool'. This is a 2-3' shovel that mounts to the bucket of your snowblower and allows you to clean out your bucket and chute without putting your hands and arms in harm's way.
*TIP* - NEVER put your arms or hands in the bucket or chute of your snow blower.
PREVENT CLOGGING IN THE FUTURE
They've come up with everything! This Snow-Jet spray we carry is an oil-based spray that you spray in your chute to prevent snow from sticking to the chute and throw further.
Snow Blower Speed issues or Lunging Forward
DRIVE CABLE ISSUES
Snow blower speed is cable-controlled. If you're having an issue with the speed of your machine, this cable can be adjusted simply and quickly. Check out the video below from our friends at Ariens showing you how to adjust cable easily:
DRIVE BELT ISSUES
Similar to auger belt issues, drive belt issues can also arise. Having a worn or broken drive belt will mean that you won't have much drive in the wheels and the machine may lurch forward as it gains and loses traction. Checking and replacing the drive belt may be an easy fix.
Snowblower isn't Taking enough Snow
We saved this one for last because often its a quick adjustment that users just don't notice they can take care of at home. If your bucket is raised too high and not taking enough snow, usually its because of the settings on your skid shoes. These are the two metal or poly 'feet' on the side of your bucket that raise the bucket off the ground.
People with gravel driveways often need to have their bucket raised high as to not take their gravel with all the snow they're blowing. People with paved driveways sometimes want skid shoes raised high to avoid scraping their pavement.
*TIP - Replace your metal Ariens skid shoes with these durable poly shoes to avoid scratching your driveway and garage floors.
We hope these tips have given you something to go on when trying to troubleshoot your machines this season! If not, feel free to talk to your local small engine center for further troubleshooting!