Before the snowstorms come and your front yard becomes a winter wonderland, it's a wise idea to pull out the snowblower and perform a bit of maintenance. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation with a foot of snow blanketing your driveway and a snowblower that won't start.
Basic snowblower maintenance involves inspecting and servicing the following tasks:
*Adjust or Replace Spark Plug
Cleaning and adjusting the spark plug or replacing the spark plug altogether is probably the most important task for ensuring an operational engine. A spark plug often becomes fouled over time and can cause the engine to run rough -- or not at all. With two-stroke engines, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that they burn a combination of oil and gas.
*Clean Air Filter
It is also important that the air filter is clean. A dirty air filter can effectively suffocate the engine, causing it to run poorly.
If the engine is a four-stroke, changing the oil is another major item that should be performed on the snowblower. Clean oil will help the engine run more efficiently, protecting it from wear and tear.
*Look for Loose Nuts and Bolts
Snowblowers have a lot of moving parts, and they tend to vibrate fairly dramatically when operating. Consequently, nuts and bolts can loosen over time. Verify that all the nuts and bolts are tight to ensure you won't have pieces of the snowblower falling off in the driveway as you clear your driveway or yard.
*Check Shear Bolts
Also check the placement of the shear bolts. They ensure the horizontal auger blade turns properly and protects the snowblower from damage in the event the auger blade gets jammed. Never replace missing shear bolts with standard bolts, as they could severely damage your snowblower if the auger were to get jammed.
*Check Auger Skid Shoes
Next, inspect the snowblower's auger skid shoes to make sure they are adjusted evenly and close to the level of the driveway. This will ensure you don't leave any snow behind when clearing a path from your home.
Look for rust on or around the muffler. Rust can reduce the effectiveness of the muffler, adding to the already loud snowblower. So it's a wise idea to use ear protection when using your snowblower, even with a muffler that works well.
*Inspect Pull Cord
Also make sure the pull cord is in good working order and that it retracts properly after pulling on it. Replace it if it looks frayed.
*Fill Gas Tank and Confirm Shut-off Valve Position
Next, fill the gas tank with gas -- or the appropriate gas/oil mixture if it is a two-stroke engine -- and make sure the gas shut-off valve is in the on position. Also add a fuel stabilizer to the engine so that the gas does not go stale during significant periods of non-use.
Finally, adjust the choke, and pull the pull cord. With any luck, your basic repair and maintenance efforts will result in an effective snowblower that will get you through the winter season.
Typically, user manuals explain the required maintenance. Only in the event of damage to the frame or auger blades or if the engine refuses to start will a visit to a repair shop be necessary. And don't delay; winter is coming!
Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.