With winter safely in the rearview mirror for most of the country, it’s time to prep your snow blower for its summer hibernation. Just like with a lawn mower, failing to store your snow blower properly over the course of a summer can leave you in a lurch when the first snowfall hits the next winter.
Clear out the old fuel
Just like with lawn mowers, clearing all of the old fuel out of the system is the best thing you can do. Adding a fuel stabilizer is one option, but your best bet is to ensure that all ethanol-based fuel is gone from the fuel system. The first step is to siphon off as much fuel as is possible – and as long as you haven’t used any additives, you can use that fuel in your car. If you have used additives, or if it is combined fuel and oil for a two-stroke engine, you’ll need to dispose of the fuel at the closest hazardous waste facility.
After you’ve emptied it of as much ethanol-fortified fuel, run some ethanol-free fuel through to flush out whatever may be left. Once you run it completely dry, let the engine cool down, then open it up and remove the carburetor bowl, emptying that of whatever fuel may have collected.
Pick up spare parts
At the end of the season, home stores might be trying to get rid of all the snow blower parts lying around so they don’t carry stock for the next eight months. This is the perfect time to replace any spare parts you might have needed to use over the season, as well as pick up some extras for the future. Drive belts and shear pins are the most important spare pieces to have around.
Change the oil
Many snow blowers have separate oil reservoirs for easy oil changes. Drain the old oil and refill the reservoir with the type of oil specified in your owners manual.
Give a once-over
Check and tighten any loose nuts and bolts. They tend to loosen from the snow blower’s vibration over time. On two-stage models, adjust the auger’s scraper and skid shoes so the metal auger housing comes close to the surface without contacting it. While you are inspecting it, check your tires and make sure they aren’t flat – the owner’s manual will have the precise inflation rates for your snow blower. Not only should this be done before putting your snow blower away for the summer, it should also be done periodically throughout the winter.
Change your spark plug
This does not need to be done on a yearly basis, but every other year should do. It’s not a bad idea to remove the spark plug every winter and re-coat it with anti-seize compound to make it easy to remove time after time, but you need not buy a brand new one year after year.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your snow blower is ready to go with minimum preparation when the first snow hits in the winter. If the first snow is a surprise, you’ll be happy things were taken care of early.