A RUGGED SNOWBLOWER'S PRESEASON CHECKLIST
WRITTEN BY: KATE HUFFMAN
Whether you have a snow blower or a snow thrower, it’s wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and that usually means snow. It doesn’t matter if you’re removing it from your driveway or sidewalk or making your parking lot or roadway safe for use, it’s important to make sure your rugged snowblower gets the maintenance it needs to keep up the hard work. Here’s our list of tips and tricks for keeping your equipment running at its best.
- The best time to maintain a snowblower / snowthrower is before putting it into off-season storage. If you didn’t service your equipment at last winter’s end, make sure you perform the needed maintenance as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want a weather front to catch you unprepared.
- Inspect the shave plate and skid shoes. The shave plate (also known as the scraper bar) skims the snow off the ground into the auger. It’s important to check it frequently; if it wears down too far, it can damage the blower housing. For single-stage or snowthrowers (which do not have discharge fans) if the plate/bar is worn, you can reverse it and keep using the same one until that edge is also worn. With a two-stage or snowblower (which does have a discharge fan), the shave plate can’t be reversed. If it’s more ragged than rugged, it must be replaced. Skid shoes (the adjustable pieces which allow you to set the auger height) only come installed on two-stage units. If yours look beat up, try flipping them. Most are reversible. Just be sure to replace them the following year.
- Keep spare shear pins on hand. Shear pins are a safeguard. Though they attach the auger and gear case, they’re designed to break to protect the auger if it encounters too much strain. If you plan to do a lot of snowblowing this season, make sure you have plenty of backups in the event of heavy storms and ice.
- Give your spark plug a good look. It’s important to do this every season, or every 100 working hours for gas-powered units. Detach the lead from the plug, removing the plug with a socket wrench. You can use a wire brush to remove any light deposits, but if there are heavy deposits, scrapes, or other damage, it needs to be replaced. When re-installing the plug or putting a new one in, make sure it’s secure but not too tight.
- Examine your belts. You might need to check your owner’s manual for the location of the belt cover. Once you’ve found that and removed it, snap a picture of the belt locations for reference. If the belts show cracks or other signs of weakening, they should be replaced. Keep in mind that a belt will stretch over time. Installing replacements can be tricky; the new belt will be tighter than the old one. Whether you’re leaving the old belts on or swapping them for new ones, don’t forget to check your pulleys to make sure you’ve got proper tension.
- Maintain the fuel and oil systems. Small engines have developed a whole new set of issues since the addition of ethanol to fuel. Due to this, it’s vital that the fuel be drained from your tank and carburetor before storing your unit at the end of the season. If this isn’t done properly, varnish can form in your fuel system or cause rubber and plastic parts to stiffen. When using your snowblower, fill it up with fresh gas and make sure to use a fuel stabilizer. This will help prevent clogs and will keep the gas fresh longer. As to the oil system, check your owner’s manual and verify you have the recommended oil before starting. First, check your oil level. If in running range, start the engine and let it warm up to allow the oil to flow more easily. You can then turn off the engine, pull your drain plug, and let the oil drain into a catch container. Once all the old oil is out, replace the plug and tighten it, checking for a proper seal. Follow your user’s manual to refill using the proper amount and recommended weight of oil.
If you’re looking for replacement parts for your snowblower, The ROP Shop might just have what you need. Not sure what part to buy? Have questions about our snowblower parts and accessories? Give us a call or shoot us an e-mail! We’d be glad to lend you hand and help keep your rugged equipment running.
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