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Don’t Use Starter Fluid on a Snowblower: Use This Instead

Sometimes do-it-yourself repairs can be well worth the time and effort. You may want to tackle trying to start your snowblower when it will not start.

Many believe the best simple fix is to use starter fluid on your snowblower, but we highly recommend using carburetor cleaner to minimize long term damage. We advise using this method for emergencies only until you can get your snowblower repaired.

Carb cleaner should be used in place of starter fluid to start a snowblower. Starter fluid is a very dry chemical that can damage your engine. Starting fluid does not have a lubrication value to it so using too much of the substance or using it too often can damage the internal components of the cylinder.

We will walk you through the five steps to using carb cleaner on your snowblower to get it started, and it is surprisingly easy! Let us dive into the five steps to using carb cleaner. 

Snowblower engine

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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.

How to Start a Snowblower with Carb Cleaner

1. Spray the Carb Cleaner into the Snowblower

For a snowblower, there are two places you can spray carb cleaner. However, you have to be careful when using carb cleaner because it is a very flammable material. 

To spray your carb cleaner into the snowblower, you can spray:

  • Directly into the intake port – Spray the carb cleaner directly into the chamber.
  • Into the spark plug port – To find this port, review your snowblower’s manual. The location varies by machine.

Once you have located the intake port or the spark plug port, you only need to spray the carb cleaner for two to three seconds. A little carb cleaner goes a long way!

If you do use starter fluid, spray the fluid on a rag and hold the rag up to the intake port. Do not spray direction into the intake port.

Too much carb cleaner in the intake port or spark plug can cause more damage to the engine. You do not need a lot of carburetor cleaner to get your snowblower running again.

2. Get Ready to Start Your Snowblower

Now that you have sprayed the carb cleaner into the snowblower, it is time to put your snowblower back together. But first, you need to test that the amount of carb cleaner you sprayed into the carburetor was enough to get your snowblower started. 

The following is a checklist for the steps to take as you prep your snowblower to start:

  • Set engine speed to its midpoint, if possible
  • Set the choke to the full position, sometimes also referred to as a closed choke
  • Press the priming switch a few times. 

Now that you have your snowblower set correctly, it is time to move on to the next step. 

3. Test Out the New Starting Fluid

The final step to using carb cleaner is to start up your snowblower. Now is the time to pull the starter string or turn the electronic start key. 

Your snowblower should start right up. You are now ready to get moving!

If the problem continues in the future, you can always repeat the process, but it might also be worth having a professional inspect the machine.

If you need to use carb cleaner every time you start your snowblower, seek a professional’s advice so you do not inadvertently cause more damage. 

If the snowblower does not start up, even after a few pulls or turns of the ignition key, you can repeat steps one through four. If the process still does not end up with your snowblower starting, it is time to call a professional. 

What Is Causing Your Snowblower to Not Start?

If you are the do-it-yourself type and love to take on the challenge of learning new things. You can try to diagnose the issue with your snowblower yourself.

In the case of your snowblower still not starting, you could have a few problems happening, including the following:

  • Bad spark plugs
  • A bad carburetor 
  • Bad fuel

Sometimes it is as simple as the carburetor needs cleaning. This is true if your snowblower starts for less than five seconds and stalls. Read “5 Reasons Your Snowblower Runs and Then Dies“.

If the snowblower starts, and then after about 30 seconds, it stalls or stops, you probably need to replace the fuel. The fuel may have gone bad or have become water-saturated. 

Make sure you are using the right type of gas and a fuel stabilizer to reduce moisture. We explain this in depth: “This is the Type of Gas Snowblowers Use” and “The Best Fuel Additive for Your Snowblower“.

Quick Overview: When to Use Carb Cleaner to Start Snowblower?

Carb cleaner is great for carbureted engines that are having difficulty starting. Using carb cleaner to start your snowblower only takes five simple steps.

Now that you know how to use starter fluid, let us quickly cover why you might need carb cleaner and a few tips for using carb cleaner. If you don’t have carb cleaner available, you can use WD40 when in a bind.

The following is a list of times when it is advised that you should use carb cleaner:

  • You notice that starting up your snowblower is more difficult than usual 
  • Your snowblower needs a new part to start, but it is not sold anymore. Try using carb cleaner before junking it.
  • You are trying to identify an engine problem, using carb cleaner can rule out issues with the carburetor 
  • Maybe you are trying to start your snowblower during colder than usual temperatures

The following are times when you should not use carb cleaner:

  • If your snowblower has a diesel engine
  • If the snowblower has a 2-cycle gasoline engine
  • If you are having difficulty identifying the problem with your snowblower

The following is a list of places where you can buy carb cleaner to give your snowblower a tune-up:

  • Home improvement stores
  • Automotive stores
  • Big-box stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Amazon

Now you know how to use carb cleaner, when to use it, and where to buy carb cleaner.

It is that simple! Hopefully, your snowblower starts and stays running after your first try at using carb cleaner. If it does not, there could be a larger issue at play requiring you to do some further investigating that may result in you taking it to your local repair facility.

Your Snowblower Starts and the Dies

If you are able to get your snowblower started and then it dies, you may have another problem. Read our article to see if you may have a dirty carburetor or another problem.