Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

Snow Blower FAQ

Snow Blower FAQ

Selection and Purchase 

  • What is a three-stage snow blower?

This type of snow blower operates to remove snow in a three-step process. During the first stage, the snow is crushed and picked up by the auger. During the second stage, the snow is processed by an accelerator. The accelerator mashes the snow and pushes it up to the impeller. During the third stage, the snow is blown out of the chute by the impeller. The machine’s wheels are powered.

Basically, the three-stage snow blower works in a very similar way to its two-stage counterpart. The difference comes from the accelerator which can speed up snow removal by as much as ten times. The three-stage models are preferred for very large areas. They have primarily commercial application.

  • Which is the best type of snow blower for gravel pathways?

The two-stage machines are preferred for gravel surfaces. They are self-propelled as their wheels are powered. They are also equipped with special skid shoes. As a result, the auger does not touch the ground during the snow removal process. In this way, it cannot pick up pieces of gravel and expel them through the chute.

This makes two-stage snow blowers perfectly safe for gravel surfaces compared to their single-stage counterparts, which are typically auger-propelled. In general, it is possible to opt for a single-stage machine as long as the auger can be elevated for cleaning gravel surfaces.

  • Which is the best type for hilly terrain?

A self-propelled snow blower will save you time and effort in this case. You will benefit from selecting a powerful unit which can operate at different speeds. The track-driven machines can reduce the workload as well, especially if the area gets considerable snowfall during the winter months. This is because they have a larger contact surface with the ground compared to wheels. As better traction is created, the work will be done more quickly and efficiently.

  • Why is the machine’s throw distance important?

This measure reveals how effectively the snow is discharged from the chute. The larger the throwing distance is, the better. When the snow is blown further away from the cleaned area, you will not be forced to clean it again. Furthermore, when it starts melting, the risk of it flooding the pathways will be reduced to the possible minimum.

There is no need to worry about the distance being too large to create issues on your property or with your neighbor. You can control the direction of the chute to get the snow blown where you want it to be.

  • Which extra features are really useful?

Each of the snow blower features which are traditionally considered to be extras can be of great use depending on the needs of the operator, the cleaned area and the weather. The chute deflector keeps the flow of snow concentrated and reduces the risk of it being blown back onto the pathways by the wind. The chute remote control enables you to adjust the direction of the discharged snow without having to stop the work. The headlight allows for clear visibility in places which are not well lit.

  • Will any model clean any type of snow?

Theoretically, the answer to this question is yes. However, the effectiveness of the different types varies considerably. Single-stage snow throwers with smaller capacity and cleaning path will need much more time for the removal of wet and heavy snow compared to a more powerful two-stage model which can pick up and remove a larger amount of snow per minute. Besides, the risk of the smaller machine getting clogged will be much higher. Given all this, it is best for a model to be selected based on the winter weather conditions in the area.

  • How loud is the typical snow blower?

The amount of noise which a machine makes depends primarily on its engine. The snow throwers with electric motor tend to be the quietest. The machines which use gas engine are louder. In general, the two-stroke gas engines are louder than their four-stroke counterparts. Despite these general, differences there could be variations in the loudness of one model compared to another based on the design of the engine. Excess noise can also be caused by metal parts which are not well lubricated. It is best if the noise production of each model is evaluated individually.

Maintenance and Care

  • Where should I store my snow thrower?

It is best to store it in a room which is dry, cool and well-ventilated. This is important since moisture can cause considerable damage to metal parts. Excess heat can cause thermal damage. The machines with gasoline engine, in particular, must not be stored in places where there are appliances and other items which can create a spark in case of malfunctioning. This is crucial as the spark can ignite any gasoline fumes present in the air and cause fire.

  • Do I need fuel stabilizer for my gas snow blower?

The addition of stabilizer to the fuel can help to keep its original chemical composition intact for longer. The job of this compound is to slow down the deterioration of fuel to the highest degree possible.

It has been found that once fresh fuel is added to the tank of a machine or poured into a storage container, it can begin to deteriorate in as little as one month. When deterioration occurs, it has an adverse impact on the performance of the machine. Starting, in particular, can get slower and more difficult. When fuel stabilizer is added to the poured fresh fuel right away, it will do a good job in preserving its quality and properties.

  • Will winter-grade fuel improve performance?

In general, the difference between winter and summer fuel is not very large due to the environmental laws. Still, the winter variety traditionally has more volatile organic compounds. These work to make the start of the snow blower’s engine quicker and more dependable as well. These are important benefits to have in cold weather. It is important to note that winter-grade fuel is generally cheaper compared to its summer counterpart. The most important thing is for it to be fresh when added to the tank.

  • Can I use ethanol-based fuel for my machine?

This depends on the requirements of the manufacturer. Most modern gas snow blowers have engines which can work with fuel that contains up to 10% ethanol, but this is not a general rule. The problem with this alcohol is that it can deteriorate the fuel and even leads to the clogging of the carburetor. In order to slow down the deterioration process, fuel stabilizer should be added when the gasoline is still fresh. If you prefer to skip this extra step, you can purchase and use ethanol-free gas.

  • Should I paint the snow blower’s metal parts?

Paint can provide protection to the external metal parts and especially to the ones which get in direct contact with the snow such as the auger, the chute and the scoop. It will reduce the risk of rust and corrosion to a great extent. Furthermore, it will make the surface of these parts more slippery and make the snow removal process smoother and faster. It can reduce the risk of clogging considerably.

You have to use special paint in order to get the desired result. Graphite-based paint works very well. External-grade oil-based paint can also do a good job. Check the recommendations of the machine’s manufacturer as well.

  • Can I add an electric starter to my gas snow blower?

This will depend on the design of the engine and on the design of the machine as well. Some machines can be fitted with an electric starter while others cannot. You have to check with the manufacturer of the machine and that of the engine as well. Find out if and how the warranty may be affected. Even if this is an option, you have to obtain a compatible starter. Some engine makers like Briggs & Stratton provide special kits, but many do not. The installation should not affect the safety and performance of the machine.

  • When is scraper replacement required?

This part of the snow blower is set under the auger or between the wheels of a two-stage snow blower. Its job is to pick up the snow and to deliver it to the auger. It is typically made from plastic or rubber and it gets worn out naturally over time. It has to be replaced when it has got very thin and dull. It is time for a new scraper if the machine leaves a thin layer of snow behind during the cleaning process.

  • How often should I change the fuel?

It is best if freshly added fuel stays inside the snow thrower’s tank for no longer than a month. It has been estimated that deterioration can begin after this fairly short period. If you cannot keep this requirement, you should consider adding fuel stabilizer which can preserve the fuel in good condition for longer. In general, you have to drain all the fuel remaining inside the machine before you put it away after the end of the winter season. Old fuel can have an adverse effect on the starter and cause damage.

  • Which snow blower parts require lubrication?

As a rule of thumb, all moving metal parts of gas snow blowers require lubrication in the points where they come in contact with other parts. Typically, the auger and the chute have specific fittings to which lubricant has to be added. The piston and cylinder area and metal controls require lubrication as well. The parts which do not require it include drive and friction disks and the grooves of pulleys. In your owner’s manual, you will find a detailed diagram of the machine with the points requiring lubrication. You have to use the lubricant recommended by the manufacturer.

Use and Operation

  • What type of cord should I use with my electric snow blower?

The cord must be designed for outdoor use. It should be able to withstand low temperature as well. The amperage of the cord must correspond to the machine’s amperage so that it can handle the electrical current. Given this, it is best to check what the manufacturer of the unit recommends. You can also consult an electrician. Generally, the cords in the market have gauge rating. Both the gauge and the length of the cord determine the amperage which it can handle.

  • How do I clean heavy snow with a smaller snow thrower?

In this situation, it is best to take less than a full pass at the time. In this way, it will be easier for the machine to remove the snow without the auger getting stuck. You will also benefit from using drift cutters. These are set at the top of the scoop and help to cut through deep snow and to direct it into the auger. The snow is removed instead of falling on top of the unit. If drift cutters are not included in the package, they can be purchased separately.

  • How do I pick the optimal position for the chute and deflector?

The chute must be set so that the cleared snow is blown away to the side the pathway. Adjust the chute so that the snow is not discharged in the direction of buildings, other facilities, parked or moving vehicles or people. You should aim for the edges of your property. You may want to reset the chute in the opposite direction during the cleaning process so that there are roughly equal amounts of piled snow on both sides of the pathway. The deflector should be set so that the snow is discharged not too high up and not too close to the ground.

  • Can I use the machine for cleaning snow which has fallen from the roof?

This is perfectly possible as long as there are no big and tough chunks of ice in the snow. Bigger and more powerful two-stage machines with larger and tougher blades may be able to break smaller and thinner pieces of ice. However, you have to keep in mind that ice may cause serious damage to the moving metal parts. Besides, there is a higher safety risk when solid pieces of any material are discharged from the chute.

  • Is my snow thrower safe for cleaning a wood patio deck?

A wood patio deck which is in good condition and does not suffer from decay or loose planks can be cleaned with a snow blower. The lighter two-stage machines are the safest for the purpose as their auger does not touch the ground. It is also possible to use a single-stage unit. You just have to ensure that there are no chunks of ice which penetrate deeper into the wood surface and which the auger can pick up. It is best to set the auger at a higher level, if possible. Alternative, you can keep the machine slightly off the ground.

  • Can I clean chunks of ice with the snow blower?

This is not recommended as these pieces are solid and very tough and may cause damage to the internal parts of the machine or an accident when discharged from the chute. However, if the auger blades are sufficiently strong and the machine is quite powerful, it may be possible for it to break and dispose of not particularly large pieces of ice. If you have a bigger two-stage or three-stage unit, you should check whether it has such capability.

Problems and Troubleshooting

  • Why is my snow blower slow to start?

If the machine takes longer time to start, but it begins to work eventually, the issue is most likely with the fuel. Fuel which has remained inside the tank for too long without appropriate stabilizer added to it will have lost many of its volatile organic parts which are responsible for proper ignition. The other common cause of this problem is a frozen metal tab behind the recoil starter. This issue can be avoided with proper lubrication during the preparation of the machine for the winter season.

  • Why isn’t the auger turning?

There could be several causes to this problem. Most often, when the engine is working fine, but the auger is not turning this is due to a broken shear pin which connects the part to the drive. Pin replacement will resolve the problem. Alternatively, the issue may be due to lose or worn-out drive belt. Again, replacement of the ineffective part is the best solution. If there is no pin or belt damage, the problem may be due to malfunctioning gear case. This component must be checked and fixed by a professional.

  • What causes the machine not to move forward?

The unit may be stuck due to ice or heavy snow. In this case, you simply need to push it forward slightly. You should check the wheels and skid shoes and remove any snow stuck in them. You should inspect them for damage and replace them if required.

If there are no obstacles or stuck snow, but the machine still does not go forward this could be due to a worn-out cable. Another cause of the problem is improperly adjusted drive clutch cable. A more rare cause of this problem is damage or breakage of the friction wheel.

  • What causes the chute to be stuck in place?

The most common cause of this problem is a pebble or twig stuck in the system for adjusting the direction of the chute. Any such object has to be removed after the machine is stopped. If there is no blockage, you have to inspect all components of this system including controls, gears and cables for damage and breakage. A broken component has to be replaced timely to enable the proper functioning of the snow blower.

  • Why is the snow discharge smaller and slower?

Usually, this problem occurs when the snow thrower has to remove snow which is deep, heavy and wet. The best way to resolve it is to make smaller passes. If sow gets stuck in the chute and the process is slowed down, you must stop and clean it. You also have to ensure that the engine runs at full throttle. If there are no obstacles to the machine, but it still performs poorly the issue may be due to improperly adjusted or worn-out belts or improperly functioning motor. In such cases, repair will be required.

  • How do I troubleshoot clogged auger?

You must stop the machine and disconnect it from its power source so as to ensure that it will not get started accidently. Then you need to take a sufficiently long and thin object to remove the stuck snow. A tough plastic snow scraper should do a good job. Alternatively, you can use the top part of a broomstick. In order to prevent clogging, you have to ensure that the auger blades are not worn-out. It is best if you cover them with slippery protective paint such as graphite-based paint as well.

  • How do I repair a damaged tire?

You need to inspect the tire surface to see where air is leaking from. Then you need to seal the gap with an appropriate product following the instructions of the sealant’s manufacturer. Once the gap is sealed, you need to inflate the tire and go on. If the damage is more serious and sealing does not help, tire replacement will be required. You should inspect the rim for damage as well. If it is not in proper operating condition, it will have to be replaced as well so that the machine can work normally.

  • Where can I find snow blower replacement parts?

Spare parts are available from authorized dealers. Depending on the brand, they may be available directly from the manufacturer as well. It is also possible to find replacement parts in brick-and-mortar and online stores which specialize in the retail of such products.

In order to obtain the correct parts, you must have the model name and serial number of your machine. These are written in the owner’s manual. They are located on the unit as well, but their precise place varies from one manufacturer to another and from one model to another.

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2 comments

  1. Maite

    How can I unstuck an electric cord that was stuck in the inside of my snow blower when I was using it

    1. admin

      Hi Maite,
      Thanks for your question.

      I afraid that you might need to open up the machine to retrieve the cord, but I would not recommend you do it yourself, please seek professional help, maybe you would like to get the people from the shop where you bought the snow blower.

      Best regards.

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