Having your snowblower go down in the middle of a snow storm is the worse time you can have your snowblower not work. If you can’t get your snowblower problem solved right away, you’re probably going to have to use that labor intensive shovel. There are several common problems that cause issues with most snowblowers that can be easily fixed.
The most common snowblower problems:
- Snowblower does not start
- Snowblower leaks gas
- Snowblower will not throw snow
- Snowblower does not move
- Snowblower leaves behind snow
- Snowblower auger will not turn
Keep reading for a list of items that can cause these most common snowblower problems and how to fix them.
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
|Snowblower Won’t Start||Incorrect Starting Procedure & Operating Procedure|
|Empty Gas Tank|
|Bad or Old Fuel|
|Fuel Cap Does Not Vent|
|Bad Spark Plug / Bad Ignition Coil|
|Fuel Filter or Fuel Line Blockage|
|Engine Needs to be Primed|
|Bad Electric Starter|
|Snowblower Leaks Gas||Leaking Carburetor|
|Cracked Fuel Lines|
|Old or Damaged Fuel Tank|
|Leaking Fuel Valve|
|Cracked Fuel Filter|
|Fuel Pump Going Bad|
|Bad Gas Cap Seal|
|Weak Primer Bulb|
|Snowblower Won’t Throw Snow||Snow Clogged in Snowblower|
|Damaged or Frozen Impeller|
|Damaged Auger or Loose Belt|
|Snowblower Auger Doesn’t Turn||Object Jammed in Auger|
|Broken Shear Bolt|
|Bad Belt or Belt Out of Place|
|Damaged Auger Cable|
|Snowblower Does Not Move||Bad Belt or Belt Out of Place|
|Bad Drive Disk|
|Damaged Drive Cable|
|Snowblower Leaves Snow Behind||Single-Stage: Worn Scraper Bar|
|Single-Stage: Worn Scraper Paddles|
|2-Stage or 3-Stage: Cutting Edge|
|2-Stage or 3-Stage: Damaged Auger Blades|
|2-Stage or 3-Stage: Damaged Wheel or Low Air Pressure|
Reasons Your Snowblower Won’t Start
Incorrect Starting and Operating Procedure
It’s the start of the winter season. It can often be hard to remember the steps to start your snowblower. Make sure these four items are correct before you start looking for other reasons your snowblower doesn’t start.
- Set fuel shut valve to the “on” or “open” position
- Make sure your ignition switch or toggle switch is set to the “on” position.
- Set to full choke
- Set your throttle to ¾ to full throttle.
If this doesn’t solve your starting problem, move on to checking the other items that can result in a snowblower not starting.
Gas Tank is Empty
An empty gas tank is often overlooked. Make sure your snowblower has a sufficient amount of gas.
4-Cycle Engines: Most current snowblower models use 4-cycle engines. Fill your snowblower’s fuel tank with fresh gasoline. Unleaded fuel with an octane level or 87 or higher with an ethanol content no greater than 10% should be used. Find more information on the correct fuel for your snowblower here.
2-Cycle Engines: Drain you fuel tank. Fill with an oil and gas mix following the recommended manufacturer ratio of oil to gas.
Bad or Old Fuel in your Snowblower
Did you know gas only has a shelf life of about 30 days before it begins to degrade? Old fuel can separate and leave behind a gummy substance that can cause your snowblower to run sluggishly or not at all.
Because snowblowers don’t typically get used frequently, it’s important to add a fuel stabilizer to the gas to stabilize it and make the gas last longer. I like a product called Sea Foam that reduces moisture in your fuel system and stabilizes fuel up to 2 years. You can read more about it in “The Best Fuel Additive for Your Snowblower”.
Bad fuel needs to be removed and replace with fresh fuel that includes a fuel additive.
Fuel Cap Does Not Vent
Your gas cap has a vent to allow air to vent out of the fuel tank. When the vent is plugged, the fuel tank forms a vacuum and restricts fuel flow.
You can try to clean the cap to open up the vent. If this doesn’t work, you must replace it.
Bad Spark Plug, Loose Connection or Bad Ignition Coil in Your Snowblower
Your spark plug may be the cause of your snowblower not starting. There may be a bad connection or your spark plug may be dirty or broken. Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup or a cracked porcelain insulator.
You will need to replace your old spark plug with a new one if your plug is too dirty or the porcelain insulator is cracked. Make sure to gap them according to manufacturer specification. It is always a good idea to check the gap even if you purchased the spark plug pre-gapped.
If you find your spark plug is fine, check to see if the fault of your starting issue is with the ignition coil. An ignition coil can be tested with a multimeter.
Blockage in the Fuel Line and Fuel Filter
Bad fuel that leaves gummy substance can cause clogs in your fuel line or fuel filter. These lines need to be replaced or the clogs need to be removed to allow fuel to flow. A dirty fuel filter must be replaced.
Check for blockage in sections of the fuel line by using fuel clamps to stop flow. Place the end of a section of fuel line in a container to collect gas. Remove the clamp to release flow to check for blockages.
If you find a section of fuel line is clogged, remove the line. Spray carb cleaner into the line to help break up the clog. Then use compressed air to blow the line to clear the clog. Replace the old fuel line with a new fuel hose if you are unable to remove the clog or the tube appears dry and brittle.
Engine Needs to Be Primed
Priming your engine moves fuel from the fuel lines into the carburetor. I find it best to try to start the snowblower without priming it first just in case you already have fuel in the carburetor. Sometimes the snowblower doesn’t need to be primed and adding more fuel to your carburetor by priming it will cause your snowblower to flood.
Clogged & Dirty Carburetor on Your Snowblower
The carburetor regulates the amount of fuel mixed with air to create a combustion. The carburetor and its components can get dirty and gum up causing your snowblower to stop running because areas of the carburetor can build up with deposits that don’t allow fuel to get to the jet.
Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carb cleaner to clean the carburetor including the float bowl and needle. Read the steps in this article to clean your snowblower carburetor: list article. You may need to replace your carburetor if it is excessively dirty or has broken components.
Bad Electric Starter on a Snowblower
You insert the key into your starter switch or flip the toggle switch to the on position and your snowblower doesn’t start or turn over. You could have a problem with the starter switch or motor. You can use a multimeter to test the starter switch. Replace the switch if bad.
Bad Recoil on a Pull Start Model
Some snowblowers use a recoil to start instead of an electric start. A bad pulley or spring in the recoil will prevent your snowblower from starting when you pull on the starter rope. You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged such as the clips or pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.
Reasons Why Your Snowblower Leaks Gas
Carburetor Is Leaking
There are several items on your carburetor that can fail and begin to leak. You need to inspect the following carburetor components when looking for a snowblower gas leak:
- Carburetor Bowl O-Ring: The o-ring appears to be similar to a rubber band and can be found between the base of the carburetor and the carburetor bowl.
- Stuck Float: The float regulates how much gas is stored in the bowl. A stuck float can cause allow too much gas in the carb that will begin to run out of the carb.
- Stuck Float Needle: The need allows gas to flow in the bowl along with the float.
For more detailed information on your carburetor and how to fix carburetor leaks read my article here.
Cracked Fuel Lines
Follow the fuel lines coming out of the gas tank. The fuel lines must be replaced if you find they are dry rotted or cracked. Look over the areas where the hose is held with a clamp and check for any damage to the hoses from the clamps.
If the style clamps used are a factory pinch style clamp you may want to replace these with a worm gear style clamp found on Amazon or at your local hardware store.
Old or Damaged Fuel Tank
Your fuel tank can be the cause of your fuel leak. If your snowblower is aged and has a steel fuel tank on it, inspect your fuel tank for a small rust hole.
If your snowblower has a plastic tank, check the seams where the plastic is molded together. Over time the seam can separate on a plastic tank or you can develop a hole in a steel tank due to rusting.
Leaking Fuel Valve
While looking at your fuel tank, inspect the fuel valve at the bottom of the tank. Some valves are plastic while others are metal. Both styles are prone to leaking. Not all snowblowers have a fuel valve.
Cracked Fuel Filter
Check out the fuel filter if it hasn’t been removed or replaced in some time. When gas sits in these plastic inline fuel filters for a while, the plastic will begin to break down and become weak and soft.
Don’t be surprised if you go to remove the filter and you crush the ends of the filter because they have become soft or if they appear to be melted. Bad gasoline can cause this to happen after a while.
That is why I recommend using recreation fuel in your snowblower. You can find more information on fuel types for your snowblower in “This is the Type of Gas Snowblowers Use“
Fuel Pump Going Bad
Just like the plastic in your fuel filter can break down, the plastic in your fuel pump can also begin to deteriorate due to fuel. Most fuel pumps used in snowblowers are plastic. The gas sits in the fuel pump for a number of years and it begins to rot from the inside out. The diaphragm will leak and the seams of the pump can begin leaking just like the seams in the fuel tank.
Bad Seal in Gas Cap
When the gas cap doesn’t seal correctly, gas can leak around the top of the tank where the cap is attached to the tank. If you continually smell gas, but can’t find the source, there is a good chance the problem can be your gas tank cap.
To identify a cap with a bad seal, shake the snowblower to get the fuel to slosh in the tank and splash around the cap area. If a wet spot appears around the cap, you need to replace it with a new cap.
Weak Primer Bulb
Some snowblowers have a primer bulb that may leak where the bulb connects to the fuel line. This bulb will become weak and brittle over time
Snowblower Won’t Throw Snow
Snow Clogged in Snowblower
Snow can become packed in the snowblower chute and augers. Snowblowing wet and heavy snow can make the likelihood of buildup in your chute worse.
Shut off your snowblower and use a snowblower cleanout tool to remove packed snow from your chute and augers. Never use your hands to clear snow. Severe injury can happen even with the snowblower in the off position.
You can help prevent your chute from clogging so quickly by using a non-stick spray to coat the chute. Blow snow when it is fresh and not after it begins to warm a bit and become heavier. Thick heavy snow is more prone to stick in your chute than light snow.
Damaged or Frozen Impeller
Two-stage and three-stage snowblowers use an impeller to propel snow out of the blower chute. Ensure the impeller is not broke and can still move freely. Impellers can freeze up from moisture buildup that freezes in the cold weather.
Damaged Auger or Loose Belt
When the belt is loose the auger will not spin fast enough to throw snow. You will also need to inspect the auger to check for damage that will also prevent the auger from picking up snow.
Snowblower Auger Doesn’t Turn
Object Jammed in Auger
It’s pretty easy to run into objects that you don’t see when you are snow blowing because they are covered in a blanket of snow. Check your auger for objects that may have gotten caught in the auger housing that is preventing your auger from turning. Remove any foreign objects and check for damage.
It is important to keep the area you are clearing free of objects such as rocks, sticks, and dog toys. Using brightly colored yard stakes to define your snow blowing areas can help you keep the area clean and staying within those boundaries when clearing snow.
Broken Shear Bolt
The auger is held in place with a shear bolt that attaches the auger to the drive shaft. Shear bolts are designed to be able to break when they hit impact. You should always keep extra shear bolts on hand so you are not stuck in the middle of a snowstorm with your snowblower broke down.
When a shear bolt does break, it can be tempting to find any old bolt and washer that will hold on the auger to finish the job. That could be a big costly mistake. If you happened to hit a rock or big piece of ice and the bolt wasn’t able to snap, you could cause extensive damage to the engine.
Replace any shear bolts you find missing on the auger as this will prevent the snowblower auger from turning.
Bad Belt or Belt Out of Place
Inspect your belts to make sure they are in place and in good condition. A worn belt that appears shiny in appearance or one that is cracked must be replaced. When your belts don’t work as they should, your auger can move slowly or stop.
Damaged Auger Cable
The auger cable allows you to depress the auger handle to engage the auger blade and impeller on a two-stage snowblower. Make sure your cable is keeping your belt tight against the pulley. Adjust the cable as needed.
When your cable is damaged, the auger will not turn when you press down on the handle. You will need to replace the cable if it does not allow the auger to engage.
Snowblower Does Not Move
Bad Belt or Belt Out of Place
Belts that appear to be worn, cracked or damaged must be replaced. A belt that is not working as designed can prevent your snowblower wheels from moving.
Bad Drive Friction Disk
The friction disk engages the drive and rotates the wheels. When the rubber on the friction disk wears away, the disc will begin to slip. The snowblower will no longer move the wheels. A bad friction disc will need to be replaced.
Damaged Drive Cable
The drive cable is designed to raise the friction disc to make contact with the drive system when the drive lever is depressed. The drive cable needs to be adjusted until the disc makes good contact. If the cable is broke and cannot be adjusted properly, the cable will need to be replaced.
Snowblower Leaves Snow Behind
Worn Scraper Bar or Cutting Edge
The term scraper bar and cutting edge is a term snowblower owners use interchangeably. On a single stage snowblower, the bar is a made of a hardened plastic or rubber material that is mounted to the bottom of the auger housing.
This scraper bar helps scrape snow and ice into the auger. Because this bar is meant to ride along the pavement, it wears down and gets gouges that will leave strips of snow behind. When this happens, it is time to replace the scraper bar.
Worn Scraper Paddles
The scraper paddles on a blower can cause your snowblower to leave behind snow when they are worn. Scraper paddles on a single-stage snowblower are designed to scoop up snow and feed it into the chute. When the paddles are worn, the paddles are not able to move as much of the snow into the chute causing some snow to fall back to the ground
Replace the paddles when they become worn. Many paddles have hole indicators. When the paddles wear to this mark, you need to replace your paddles.
Two-Stage or Three-Stage Snowblower
The cutting edge scrapes snow and ice into the auger. On a two-stage and three-stage snowblower, the cutting edge is set so it doesn’t scrape the driveway. Even though it doesn’t have constant direct contact with the ground, it will still wear, get damaged, and have to be replaced.
You will want to make sure your skid shoes are set at the right height so your cutting edge doesn’t wear out so fast. The cutting edge should be set at least 1/8” above the hard surface. It needs to be set even higher when using on a gravel driveway so gravel is not being scraped into your snowblower.
Never use a single-stage snowblower on a gravel driveway because the single-stage unit does not have the option to set your cutting edge height above the ground.
Damaged Auger Blades
Auger blades will become worn or can become damaged due to impact with hard objects. Inspect your blades and replace when needed.
Damaged Wheel or Low Tire Pressure
When a wheel is damaged or has low tire pressure, it can cause the snowblower to not sit squarely along the pavement. This can cause an uneven clearing height leaving snow behind.
Replace damaged wheels. Check tire pressure to bring pressures to those indicated on your tire. Make sure tire pressures are the same for both tires.
Components on Your Snowblower Can Freeze
Your snowblower needs to run in cold wet conditions. Many items on your snowblower can develop moisture and freeze in cold temperatures. You may be able to unfreeze clogged components and cables by thawing them out with a little heat. Using a low temperature grease to lubricate cables will assist with preventing the them from freezing up.