You have a limited season to use your snowblower, so you need a snowblower you can rely on to start and run. Running into a problem may mean you have to rely on removing snow with the traditional snow shovel.
Depending on the amount of snow you have to remove, it can be a very labor-intensive task. Getting your snowblower up and running is your best option.
A Craftsman snowblower won’t run when it isn’t getting the air, fuel, or spark it requires. This can be due to an incorrect choke setting, clogged fuel lines, bad fuel cap vent, dirty spark plug, dirty carburetor, faulty electric starter, or bad recoil.
Keep reading for additional items that can cause your snowblower to not start. You will find information on finding and fixing your starting problem. Remember to remove your spark plug wire and wait for all parts to stop moving before performing any repairs.
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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, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
Reasons Your Craftsman Snowblower Won’t Start
1. Incorrect Starting and Operating Procedure on Your Craftsman Snowblower
Because you only use your Craftsman snowblower for the winter season and store it most of the year, you could have missed a step to the starting procedure causing it not to start.
Make sure you have completed these 4 steps to starting your snowblower before you move on to looking for other reasons preventing it from starting:
- Set the fuel shut-off valve to the on or open position.
- Make sure the key is inserted into the ignition switch and turned to the on position. If your snowblower uses a toggle switch instead of an ignition switch, make sure it is flipped to the on position. Some snowblowers use a safety key that must be inserted in order to start.
- Set the snowblower to full choke.
- Set the throttle to ¾ to full throttle.
- Once started, adjust your choke to allow more air so your snowblower continues to run.
2. No Gas in Your Craftsman Snowblower Fuel Tank
You know you need gas to run a gas-powered snowblower. This is an obvious problem that I only mention because it can be easily overlooked out of frustration.
Running out of fuel with your snowblower could easily happen when you don’t use your snowblower on a regular schedule. You could have lost track of the last time you refueled the snowblower.
You may also be going through more fuel than normal if you developed a fuel leak or your fuel gauge may have stopped working correctly.
Inspect the fuel system to identify any fuel leaks or faulty fuel gauge. Repair or replace any faulty items.
Fill the fuel tank with fresh fuel for your type of engine. Don’t make the mistake of using 2-cycle fuel in a 4-cycle engine or 4-cycle fuel in a 2-cycle engine. Read more about the fuel to use in your Craftsman Snowblower here.
- 4-Cycle Engine: Fill with fresh gasoline with an 87 octane or higher. Choose a gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%. Find more information on the correct fuel for your gas snowblower here.
Most current Craftsman snowblower models use a 4-cycle engine. You will have a fill port for oil and a separate fill port for fuel. Refer to your operator’s manual if you are unsure what type of engine is on your snowblower.
- 2-Cycle Engine: Fill with an oil and gas mix following the recommended manufacturer ratio of oil to gas. An indication you are running a 2-cycle engine is a single fill port for both oil and fuel.
You may find the fuel-to-oil mix ratio listed on your fuel cap or you may have to refer to your operator’s manual.
3. Bad or Old Fuel in Your Craftsman Snowblower
Old fuel in your Craftsman snowblower can play a significant role in causing fuel restrictions and fuel component failure. Gas begins to break down and becomes less effective as soon as 30 days after purchase.
Most types of gasoline available at your local fuel station contain ethanol, a corn-based alternative fuel added to make fuel a little better for the environment. Ethanol is not good for a small engine like the one on your Craftsman snowblower.
Ethanol attracts moisture from the air. This ethanol and water moisture leaves behind a varnish that gums up and corrodes the fuel system including the fuel lines and carburetor.
Because of this, always choose unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 and a maximum ethanol content of 10%. The lower the ethanol content, the better.
Stay away from gasoline sold as E15, E30, and E85 as these have ethanol contents of 15%, 30%, and 85% respectively.
Consume fuel within 30 days. If you purchased more fuel than you are able to consume within this time, add a fuel additive to stabilize the gas and reduce moisture.
I always choose to add a fuel stabilizer with each tank of fuel to help protect my fuel system and engine. I’m never really sure how quickly I’ll go through a tank of fuel because I can’t forecast how much snow is going to fall.
Adding a fuel stabilizer prevents me from having to drain my tank and refill it with fresh fuel when it gets a little old.
- Remove the old fuel using a fuel siphon. Add fresh fuel with a fuel additive to help clean the fuel system and remove moisture.
- Sea Foam is a good product to add especially after running old gas through your snowblower. To learn more about the advantages of using Sea Foam in your engine, read my article “The Best Fuel Additive for Your Snowblower“. Another good alternative is STA-BIL.
4. Bad Fuel Cap on Your Craftsman Snowblower
Your gas cap has a vent so the atmospheric pressure equals the inner fuel tank pressure. When this vent gets plugged, the fuel tank forms a vacuum preventing gas from moving through the fuel lines to the carburetor.
Your snowblower is starved of fuel and won’t start when it is unable to pull gas through the fuel lines due to improper venting of the cap.
A good way to test this is to loosen or remove the fuel tank cap and start the snowblower. If it starts and runs fine, but begins to run sluggish or quit after reinstalling the cap and allowing it to run a while, there’s a good chance your fuel cap is not venting properly.
- Replace the fuel cap on your snowblower.
5. Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection on Your Craftsman Snowblower
Another reason your snowblower won’t start may be due to a bad spark plug connection. You can have a bad connection when the spark plug is excessively dirty or damaged.
It can also be caused by a spark plug that isn’t gapped correctly or the spark plug wire is not securely attached.
- Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup or a cracked porcelain insulator.
- Replace with a new spark plug if the plug is too dirty to clean with a wire brush, the porcelain insulator is cracked or the electrode is burnt.
- Make sure to gap them according to manufacturer’s specifications. It is always a good idea to check the gap even if you purchased the spark plug pre-gapped.
6. Blockage in the Fuel Line on Your Craftsman Snowblower
Old fuel and dirt can leave behind deposits that clog the fuel lines restricting fuel flow. Without sufficient fuel, your Craftsman snowblower will not start and run.
- Check for blockages by clamping a fuel line to stop fuel flow. Remove one end of the line from your snowblower and place it in a container placed lower than the fuel tank. Remove the clamp and check for fuel flow.
- If you find your fuel line is clogged, remove the other side of the line so the line is off your snowblower. Don’t forget to prevent fuel from leaking on your floor by using clamps or the fuel shut-off valve to turn off the fuel. Some snowblowers will have a fuel shut-off valve.
- With the fuel line from the snowblower, spray carb cleaner into the tube and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is free of debris and gummy residues. Repeat as necessary.
- Replace with a new fuel hose if your hose remains clogged or it is becoming dry and brittle.
7. Clogged & Dirty Carburetor on Your Craftsman Snowblower
The carburetor is essential to your snowblower running because it regulates the amount of air mixed with the right amount of fuel to create a combustion.
The carburetor and its components can get dirty and gum up causing your snowblower not to run.
Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carb cleaner to clean the carburetor including the float bowl and needle.
Solution: Steps to Cleaning Your Craftsman Snowblower Carburetor
- Spray carb cleaner to minimize carbon buildup. Spray some carb cleaner in the air intake. Start the engine to see if it will run. If your snowblower fires up and still won’t stay running then we need to get inside the carburetor.
- Gather pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and ratchets so you don’t destroy parts while taking the carburetor apart.
- Take a photo for reassembly. These days most people have a handy camera on their phones. It’s a very good idea to take a picture of the carburetor so you can refer to it if you don’t remember how to reassemble it after tearing it apart. You will want to make sure you get a photo showing how the linkage and springs go back on the carburetor.
- Remove the throttle cable and choke cable if your snowblower has one.
- Slowly remove the springs so you don’t stretch them out too much. You may have to twist the carb a bit to get the springs off. Also, watch the gasket at this point so you don’t tear it. This is the gasket located between the engine block and the carburetor.
- Remove the bottom screw from the float bowl. The float bowl is where gasoline is stored inside the carburetor. It should have gas in it so have a rag ready to catch the gas.
- Remove the bowl being careful to not damage the o-ring around it. Caution: Do not get any carb cleaner or any other chemical on the o-ring. It will stretch out and you won’t be able to reuse it.
- Inspect the stem for clogged holes. This stem hangs down from the center of the carburetor and has holes in it. If these holes get plugged from old fuel it will not draw fuel up to the jet.
If the holes are plugged, take a thick wire to clean them out. It’s easier to see what you’re doing if you use a flashlight. Once you get the holes clean you can rinse them with carb cleaner.
- Inspect the carburetor for hard crusty white buildup. This white buildup is fuel additives including ethanol. You need to try to get as much of the white power material out as you can. It’s nearly impossible to get it all out.
- Reassemble the carburetor now that the carb is clean. Put it back together in the reverse order you took it apart. Remember to refer to the photo you took of the carburetor when reassembling so all parts are reinstalled in the right places.
- Add fresh fuel that contains a fuel stabilizer before you start your snowblower. Pour the fuel into the tank and give it a chance to fill the bowl of the carburetor. Start your engine.
If you are starting with a pull cord, give the rope a yank. It may not start on the first pull, but it should start after several pulls and continue to run.
8. Bad Electric Starter on a Craftsman Snowblower
You insert the key into your starter switch or flip the toggle switch to on 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.
9. Engine Needs to Be Primed on Your Craftsman Snowblower
For Craftsman snowblower units without an electric or battery start, 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.
Sometimes it doesn’t need to be primed and I don’t want to flood my snowblower by priming and adding too much fuel to the carburetor if it isn’t needed.
- If your snowblower doesn’t start without priming, give the engine a little help by pressing the primer bulb a few times to get fuel into the carburetor.
- Do not over-prime your engine by placing too much fuel in the carburetor as you could end up flooding your engine.
10. Bad Recoil on a Pull Start Craftsman Snowblower
Some Craftsman 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.
Don’t Use Starter Fluid to Start Your Craftsman Snowblower
Most people will immediately reach for the starter fluid when their equipment doesn’t start. I do not recommend this at all. In fact, I don’t like starter fluid so much because of the damage it can cause to the engine, I don’t allow it in my repair shop.
Starter fluid is a very dry chemical. Because it is so dry and doesn’t have any lubrication ingredient to it, the dry chemical can cause internal engine damage.
I recommend using carburetor cleaner to start your snowblower. I explain why carburetor cleaner is preferred along with how to use it in “Don’t Use Starter Fluid on a Snowblower: Use This Instead.”