Winter is over – time to store the snow blower
By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Feature Article - posted Thu., Mar. 31, 2011
I’m not a meteorologist, but I think it is just about safe to say we can put away the snow blowers until next winter. Anything we get now can probably be moved or brushed aside by hand. Even if you don’t want to tempt fate quite yet, the day will come when you have to do that seasonal swap of that space in the garden shed or garage alternatively occupied by the lawnmower and snow blower.
No doubt you read the advice last fall that explained what to do with your lawnmower to get it ready for a long winter’s rest. So it should be ready to go, right? Here’s the alternative seasonal advice, then, on what to do for your snow blower to make it ready for next year’s visit from Old Man Winter.
I first suggest that you find your owner’s manual, and look for maintenance and storage procedures and hints. Those will be more specific than the cursory advice found here. If you cannot find the manual with a physical search, do a digital search of the manufacturer’s website, and download a copy. You will need the model and perhaps serial numbers of your snow blower, which are stamped or printed on a label – most likely on the back of the machine.
You will want to drain the fuel or, as some manufacturers suggest, treat it with fuel stabilizer. It’s your choice. If you like the stabilizer idea, follow the instructions on the packaging. Otherwise, put on some chemical-resistant gloves, get a disposable container that can hold gas, and get to it.
Close the fuel line valve if there is one. Take the fuel line off at the carburetor intake port, and direct it into your container. Try to get as much out as you can, with the assistance of a helper to tilt the machine if possible. Reconnect the line, open the fuel valve, start the machine, and let it run out of gas.
Remember, too, to check the normal maintenance parts, such as the air filter and hoses. Check these now, and order and replace the parts, so the equipment is ready to go at the first snow.
Tilt your machine back and check the shave plate and skid shoes. They get worn after many hours of scraping the pavement and eating snow. They take the brunt of the abuse, so the housing doesn’t have to. If they are badly worn, replace them.
Gain access to the drive shaft, and apply a coat of light oil to keep it from oxidizing in the summer humidity. Remember that oil will protect steel parts, but it is not good for rubber components and some aluminum parts. Wipe those clean of any stray oil.
Remove the shear bolts from the augur shaft, and service any grease fittings you find in the area. Turn the augur blades a few times, and align and replace the shear bolts. Check the augur paddles, and replace them if worn.
While in that area, check the drive belts for wear and cracking. You may not feel like replacing these now, but you will be really unhappy if you have to stop and do it during a snowstorm.
Of course, you will want to change the engine oil. How you do that varies with engine type and manufacturer. Your operator’s manual should include specifics.
Remove and check the spark plug. Chances are, if you didn’t detect any problems while using it, it should be okay. Replace the plug, when finished.
Clean off any dirt and salt residue that may have accumulated around the engine. Where paint or other coating has worn off, use a light oil to coat the bare or rusted surfaces. This will help to retard rust during its summer siesta.
Lubricate control levers with engine oil or a silicone spray where you can find the points at which they pivot. Apply grease to the worm gear that rotates your deflector hood, and the sprocketed flange it turns.
Finally, store the machine in an out-of the-way place, but leave it uncovered. Covers have a way of trapping moisture, and moisture leads to rust.