Two Feet of Snow in Flagstaff, AZ!

This Thanksgiving break, Flagstaff, Arizona was covered in two feet of snow with more on the way. You pull out your snow blower to clear the snow, but your snow blower is either not working or not running the best it could. In the last couple of days, we have had many customers stop by and ask the HomCo technicians how to get their snow blower up and running or just running right. HomCo reached out to Marc Braatz our lead Ariens Technician and asked him to give us some common problems and possible solutions with snow blowers to help our customers troubleshoot and fix their snow blowers.

What are the Common Mistakes That Lead to Problems to Your Snow Blower?

One of the biggest mistakes is leaving gas in the tank in the off season. By leaving gas in the tank, the gasoline degrades over time and leads to several problems, ranging from hard starting to rough running, or even, not starting at all. If you often have long periods of time between the uses of your snow blower, you will want to add some fuel stabilizer to the fuel you put in the fuel tank. This will keep water from building up in your tank and minimize the impact of the ethanol fuel damage on your system. In addition to using fuel stabilizer, before you put your snow blower away, you can shut off fuel and let the snow blower continue to run until it stops. This removes fuel from the carburetor and the fuel lines. If your snow blower is still not starting, you can drain the old fuel from the tank by disconnecting the fuel line between the fuel tank and the carburetor, then drain the gas into a drain pan and properly disposed of it. Any residual fuel in the carburetor should be drained by removing the carburetor float bowl. Clean the bowl and replace the bowl gasket. If not cleaned out properly, it can lead to clogged ports in the carburetor which will prevent the engine from starting. If your snow blower is still not starting the carburetor may be clogged, if this is the case you will need to clean it with carburetor cleaner and if that does not work, then you will need to rebuild or replace the entire carburetor.

Use Quality Fuel 

Using poor quality or old fuel that hasn’t had fuel stabilizer added to it, can also lead to problems like not starting or an under powered poor running condition. Make sure you are not grabbing a gas tank with poor quality or old fuel. For snow blowers, it is recommended that you do not use fuel with high ethanol content. Standard gas station fuel in Arizona will have about 10% ethanol content which is fine for snow blowers. Most users find that 87 octane fuel is sufficient for a snow blower, and the more expensive, higher octane fuels are unnecessary. If you can find gas with no added ethanol in your area, pick it up, this is ideal for small engines, since Ethanol can gum up your machine and cause many problems. 

Avoide Driving Over Solid Objects 

Another problem could be driving into newspapers, sticks, ice, and any solid objects. This can break the shears pins and the gearbox could be damaged. If the impeller inside of your snow blower will turn, but the auger will not, then it is possible that the shear pins that connect the augers to the drive shaft are broken. Shears pins break as a safety mechanism if the auger or impeller encounters anything that can cause it to suddenly stop. Luckily, it is easy to replace a shear pin, but you should always replace the shear pin with shear pins that meet the manufacture specifications. Shear pins are designed and to break at specific torque. Using a pin that breaks at a higher torque can cause damage to your machine components.  If all the shear pins are in place and the impellor won’t spin freely (this can be checked by shutting the machine off, and rocking the impellor by hand) but the augers still will not turn, then you may have an issue within the gearbox which is most likely stopping the auger from turning.  

Tire Pressure

Not having the right tire pressure will cause some problems. Make sure you have the tire pressure that is specified on the sidewall of the tires or what is specified in the operator’s manual as the proper pounds per square inch. If just one tire is low or deflated, then the snow blower will be lower one side, or drive in a continuous turn. This also causes uneven clearing height. If both tires are low, which can happen over time, this will make it harder to maneuver the machine and you will notice less traction.

Adjust Your Skid Feet Properly

If your skid feet are not adjusted properly, you will wear out your cutting edge faster. It will be harder to operate as you will hit every bump and crack in the concrete or asphalt, and you may pick up gravel. Adjusting the skid feet allows you to choose how close to the ground you will be clearing snow. The height of the skid feet are set by loosening the two nuts on each side of the auger housing on your snow blower, pushing them down to the ground, and tightening the nuts. Depending on the surface you are clearing, you can use a lower clearance height on paved surfaces that are clear of loose stones and cracks. As for gravel driveways, there is no set clearance height, so it is will take some experimentation to find the right clearance height to clear the most snow while not picking up the gravel on your driveway. It is always better to start high and work your way down on the clearance of your skid feet when it comes to gravel driveways.  

Something to mind when preventing the friction disc from prematurely wear out when operating your snow blower is only shift up in the gears while moving. If you need to go to a lower gear, you will need to stop and then move to a lower gear. When you downshift while moving, you are putting increased pressure on the rubber surface of the friction disc, this will cause it to wear out prematurely.

Visit Homco Lumber & Hardware for all you snow blower needs and questions!