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How to Maintain a Snowblower

Man pushing snowblower

All outdoor equipment needs routine maintenance, just like your car and bike. Yet when the device is only used a few times a month and only for one season of the year, it’s easy to forget. When was the last time you thought about maintaining your snowblower? Of all the yard equipment, it’s among the easiest to forget about it right until you need it the most. Before pulling out your snowblower to deal with the first big snowfall of the year, consider these routine maintenance chores.

Replace or Flip the Shave Plate

Shave plate

This maintenance step is recommended for both types of snowblowers, single-stage and two-stage devices. Single-stage snowblowers allow you to detach the shave plate and flip it around to use the other side when it comes to the shave plate. Once both sides are worn, replace them. Two-stage snow blowers must have their shave plates replaced each time they wear out. The blades on two-stage snowblowers should last a few seasons at a time at least, but eventually, they need replacement, or they’ll leave snow behind on the surface as you work.

Inspect the Auger

Snowblower Auger

The auger that turns to move the snow and throw it out of the chute requires plenty of inspection before it's used each winter. Your snowblower should feature a cover or case that is easy to remove to give you access to it. Single-stage snowblowers use the auger to also scoop snow off the ground, so these rubber paddles wear rapidly and need replacement every few years. For two-stage models, the paddles should be metal and will only need cleaning and lubrication each year. Use a grease gun to pump lithium-based grease into the fittings on the auger. Also, check the shear pins that hold the auger to the shaft. If any have broken, replace them. Replace rusty or stuck pins as well. Keep plenty on hand since they’re sacrificial parts that break to keep the auger or paddles from snapping instead.

Give Gas-powered Models a Tune-up

Oil Change

Electric snow blowers can skip this step, but gas-powered models need a full tune-up before starting each winter. Put in fresh gas after draining out any fuel you forget to remove last fall. Give the snowblower an oil change too. It’s fine to start up the blower first for a few minutes to warm up the oil enough to encourage easy draining. Finally, give the spark plug a look, and replace it if it has dark or white deposits on the tip. You don’t want to deal with oil changes or spark plug replacements in the middle of a busy morning when you need your snow blower working.

Test the Belts

Small Engine Belt

All snow blowers, regardless of stages or fuel type, rely on belts to transmit the rotary power needed by the auger. These belts wear out over time, often developing tiny cracks in the surface that cause them to snap under pressure eventually. Take a good look at the belt’s surface and squeeze it with your fingers to see if it’s still soft and flexible. If the rubber is getting stretched, worn, cracked, or hardened, go ahead and replace the belt. This reduces wear and tear on the other parts.

Clean up the Skid Shoes

Skid Shoes

Two-stage snow blowers also have skid shoes or plates that help hold them the correct distance off the ground. First, look over these metal plates for general wear and rust. Give them a spray with an anti-corrosion oil if they’re looking rusty. If they’re badly worn or uneven, replace them. Next, check that they’re still adjustable if they’re made to operate that way. You may need to oil or clean up the adjustment mechanism if they stick or want to fall back into certain height settings.

Store the Snowblower for next Winter

Snow Blower Cover

When winter gives way to spring, do a little extra work to prepare your snowblower for the next winter. Clean off any mud or rocks that may be mixed up in the auger, especially in two-stage snow blowers. If needed, go ahead and change out worn shave plates and auger paddles to save you time next year. Finally, drain the fuel out or at least add a stabilizer. The more you do in the spring before putting the equipment away for the winter, the less you’ll need to do the next fall.

Snowblowers need at least at much maintenance as a lawnmower, maybe even more. Just make sure to check it for signs of wear at the beginning and the end of winter. That will ensure that the snowblower is always in good shape and ready to use in case of unexpected snowfall.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.