Troubleshooting a Snowblower that Won't Start
Heavy overnight snowfall can transform your world. You wake up in what is a mini ice age. Snowdrifts encircle your home.
However, you’ve done the prep for this. You put a wedge of cash down on a first-rate gas-powered snow blower. You’re confident you will make the walls of snow vanish in no time at all. And have the rest of the day to yourself.
But your hopes are suddenly dashed. Your snowblower refuses to start. No matter what you do, it won’t spark into life.
It’s all too easy to forget essential snow blower maintenance when it sits quietly in the corner of your garage most of the year. You overlook it because you only use it a few times each snow season.
But like any machine that’s powered by gas, your snowblower needs TLC and regular maintenance to be good to go when you need it.
7 Reasons Your Snowblower Refuses to Start
This article is for you if you need to troubleshoot a snowblower that won’t startup. Here are the steps to take before resigning yourself to buying a replacement.
It’s a troubleshooting checklist to eliminate various common culprits. You will be able to identify the cause and fix it yourself. And have saved yourself a heap of cash, frustration, and time.
You’re out of gas
In your determination to get going with snow clearing, it’s easy to forget it needs gasoline. You won’t be ripping through any snow without the gas to do so. Before attempting to start up your blower, always check the oil and fuel levels. Ensure the machine has fresh gas.
If you do have fuel, be sure it’s not old and dirty. Over time, old fuel leaves a varnish-type coating in the carburetor, so check that too.
Old fuel is only usable if a stabilizer has been added before it went into storage. Without a fuel stabilizer, that gas begins to break down.
If you do have bad gas in the fuel tank, drain it all via the carburetor. You can now add fresh gasoline and a fuel stabilizer to get snow clearing once more.
Depending on how waxy the gasoline has become, a replacement carburetor may prove necessary if there is heavy contamination.
The same applies to all the fuel lines and fuel filters the gas passes through. These can quickly become clogged up if not maintained correctly. You can get both of these replaced at a pro workshop.
However, prevention is always much easier than cure. And could have been avoided entirely with a battery-powered snow blower.
You didn’t open the shut-off valve
Simplest of all, you forgot the ignition sequence. The fuel shut-off valve is still in the off position. All you need to do is slide the switch to the on position and you’re all set. This small but important detail is easy to forget if you are more used to battery-powered equipment.
The safety switch has been activated
If none of these suggestions work, the next step is to consider whether the blower has gone into safety mode. Typically activation and deactivation are via the safety key switch. Alternatively, it may be via a red toggle switch. Some models use both. Regardless, check that the key is inserted fully and the toggle switch is at Run.
If one or both of these are in the correct position, the snowblower will disable the ignition by design. Worse still, if you went ahead and tried to start the engine, it may be flooded with fuel. Therefore, always check both before attempting to fire up your blower.
You forgot the choke
Any engine starting up in cold weather – including snowblowers -needs a little extra help. Check that the choke is on. The choke works by restricting the airflow to the engine. This results in a richer fuel-to-air mixture. With more fuel getting to the cylinders, it is easier to start and keeps the engine going while it heats.
You forgot the throttle setting
If your snowblower has a manual throttle, set it to a minimum of three-quarter speed for starting.
Your spark plug is dirty or wet
If you are still out of luck, you need to delve a little deeper. Remove the spark place and check if it is wet. If so, the plug’s hole has become flooded with fuel. You need to clean and wipe the spark plug dry. Before refitting the spark plug, turn the engine over a few times. This helps clear the fuel flooding.
Before refitting the spark plug, check its gap. The arcing gap between the electrodes has to be exact. If the distance is off, the spark plug will not fire efficiently or at all. Adjust the gap if it appears to be misaligned. A feeler gauge will help you set the correct distance.
Finally, check the spark plug’s body for signs of damage or cracking. If there’s damage, you will have to order a new spark plug to get your snowblower to start. If all looks okay, replace the existing spark plug.
Your starter is dead
If your blower is still uncooperative, it could be the snowblower’s starter to blame. While the machine remains in good working order, it won’t spark into life with a faulty starter.
Most modern gas-powered one-stage snow blowers have an electric start.
These are super-handy but can break after heavy use. It’s easy then to be fooled into thinking you need to replace your snowblower. However, you can save yourself a ton of money by taking the blower to your local shop for inspection. If the button is the culprit, they can easily fit a new one.
Snowblowers are a thing of beauty. If looked after well, they can easily last your lifetime. Most of the issues we have outlined here can be avoided by simply knowing how your blower works. Moreover, checking it during the long off-season is a smart move. Make sure it’s not getting gummed up with old fuel.
Remember, if it has you stumped, take your blower in for repair. A professional inspection and fine-tune is way cheaper than forking out for a brand new machine.