Ultimate Snow Blower Maintenance Guide
How to Tune Up Any Style of Snow Thrower
No matter what kind of snow blower you own, eventually it’s going to need some maintenance to keep operating at peak performance.
This snow blower maintenance guide will outline the basic steps you need to take to maintain any style of snow thrower and keeping it running for the long haul.
To jump straight to the maintenance tips you need, click on one of the links below:
- Electric Snow Blower Maintenance
- Single-Stage Snow Blower Maintenance
- Two-Stage and Three-Stage Snow Blower Maintenance
- Tips to Extend Snow Blower Life
Whether they’re cordless or corded, electric snow blowers and snow shovels are known for being incredibly low-maintenance tools. Most manuals even state that lubricating moving parts such as their rotors isn’t necessary, the way it is for large gas-powered blowers.
Prevention is one of the best ways to maintain them—for example, running an electric snow blower for a few minutes after clearing snow with it is a great way to prevent its rotor blades from freezing up.
Still, an electric blower has parts that you should inspect regularly and possibly replace if they show signs of wear:
- Drive belt
- Scraper blade
- Battery (for cordless snow blowers)
- Extension cord (for corded snow blowers)
Parts like the blower’s drive belt and scraper blade generally get replaced on an as-needed basis. The scraper is more likely to need replacement due to the contact it makes with the ground. Some manuals recommend changing out a scraper blade after every 20 hours of use (always follow the maintenance schedule recommended in the product manual).
Often, removing a worn scraper blade is as simple as unfastening the screws that attach it to the machine.
For cordless snow blowers, one of the most important components is the battery. Always charge your battery to full capacity before using your blower, but never store a battery fully charged after use. This keeps your battery in a stable condition that won’t damage its internal parts.
Corded snow blowers draw their power through a specialized cold-weather extension cord. Check before every use for fraying and damage to or bending of the plug’s prongs. If you need to replace your cord, choose one that’s an appropriate length and gauge for the power draw of your snow blower. In general, a 12-gauge cord that’s 50-100 feet long will safely handle equipment using 10-15 amps of power.
All gas-powered machines have certain parts and components in common that will need to be maintained in similar ways. A single-stage snow blower is no exception, even though you might need to check these parts on a schedule that’s specific to your blower. Again, always consult your product manual for advice on when to inspect and replace the following components:
- Spark plug
- Drive belt
Additionally, single-stage snow blowers have two parts particular to them that will need maintenance: the paddles and the scraper blade (also called the shave plate).
Unlike the rotor blades on two-stage snow blowers, the paddles on single-stage snow blowers make direct contact with the ground. This means that they will wear down over time. Check your paddles after every 10 hours of use; if they’ve been worn down to the indicator hole you’ll find near each paddle’s edge, it’s time to replace them.
Remove the paddles by loosening the bolts that secure them to the auger. For even use, always replace the paddles in pairs.
When fastening the new paddles to the auger, make sure they’re positioned so that they don’t scrape the auger housing.
The scraper blade is attached to the bottom of the auger housing; it scrapes up any especially dense snow that the softer rubber paddles might leave behind. Like the paddles, it will see some wear from making contact with the ground.
Check your scraper bar for wear at the same time you check your paddles (every 10 hours). You can lower a worn scraper bar so that it makes better contact with the ground by loosening its bolts and adjusting its position. Eventually, though, you will need to replace it to avoid damaging the auger housing.
Again, always consult the product manual’s maintenance schedule, but a good general guideline is to check the oil level before every use, change the oil every 25 hours of use, and check and replace the spark plug every 100 hours of use.
Once you open the drain plug, oil will flow more freely if you drain it while it’s still warm after running the engine.
Unless your snow blower is an older model with a two-stroke engine, use an oil that’s specifically designed for four-stroke engines. Also, be sure that your oil is a lighter weight oil designed for cold-weather use; oil that’s too thick risks gumming up your engine in low temperatures. Many snow blowers use a 5w30 weight oil—check the manual for your product.
The spark plug can be removed by disconnecting the boot and using a spark plug wrench or socket.
Once it’s been removed, check the size of the gap—if it is larger than the manufacturer’s recommendations, it’s time to replace your spark plug.
Another part that two-stage and three-stage snow blowers have in common with their single-stage cousins is the shave plate or scraper blade at the bottom of the auger housing. Inspect this every 10 hours of use, and consider replacing it if you see a thin layer of snow left on the ground after you run your snow blower over it.
Two- and three-stage snow blowers have parts that will need to be lubricated with the manufacturer-recommended lubricant at least once every season:
- Gear shaft
- Auger shaft
- Chute directional control
They also have two specific parts that you won’t find on single-stage snow blowers: skid shoes and shear pins.
Unlike the rubberized paddles on single-stage snowblowers, the metal blades on a two- or three-stage blower’s auger scoop up snow instead of scraping it off the ground. To keep the metal auger from making contact with a hard surface, skid shoes lift the auger housing off the ground, allowing the snow blower to glide smoothly.
Metal and non-abrasive composite skid shoes are the two types most commonly available; roller skid shoes offer a third option. Composite skid shoes can be removed by loosening the bolts and rotated 180 degrees for extended use if one side shows too much wear.
Shear pins or shear bolts are designed to prevent damage to your snowblower even if it encounters an obstacle. If your snow blower passes over a rock or a landscaping fixture that would create enough torque to damage the auger, the shear pins simply snap, jamming the auger in place.
Because of the way they function, you should have to replace your shear pins only when they break. Your brand-new snow blower should include an extra set of shear pins in the package that contains the product manual. If it didn't, or if the pins have been misplaced, extra sets of shear bolts can be purchased separately.
To remove them from where they connect the auger to the auger shaft, use a wrench to turn the shear pin while using another wrench to hold the nut that secures it in place. Unscrew the pin and insert the new one, taking care to tighten the nut. On many models, you also can simply remove and reattach the clevis pin.
Tune-ups are a part of owning any piece of power equipment. However, even beyond the tasks mentioned above, there are steps you can take to reduce the need for some maintenance and make regular maintenance easier:
- Add fuel stabilizer every time you refill your snow blower’s gas tank
- Drain the fuel tank before storing your blower away at the end of the season
- Coat the auger and the inside of the snow blower chute with a non-stick spray
- Wipe salt and other materials off your snow blower with a warm, wet cloth after use
- Cover your snow blower to protect it from the elements when it’s not in use (yes, even if you keep it in the garage)
- Prevent snow from melting and creating puddles by storing your snow blower on a garage mat
A little bit of regular upkeep can keep your snow blower running for a nice, long time.