Cleaning Snowblower Gas Tank?

Dirty or bad gas is a common complaint, removing grit from the fuel system can be a pain in the ass. Some gas tanks aren’t easily accessible and for those type situations, I have just the tool.

There are 3 common ways to clean a snowblower gas tank include:

  1. Drain the gas tank
  2. Removing gas tank
  3. Use syphon to clean tank

In this post you’ll learn how I drain gas tanks quickly and mess free in the workshop. But we’ll cover all the ways to drain the gas tank.

Mower gas cap

Vented Gas Cap

Draining Snowblower Gas Tank

Draining the gas tank isn’t the most efficient way of cleaning the tank but on the up side, it generally doesn’t require many tools and it’s pretty easy to do. Use the following steps to guide you through the process:

  • Turn gas tap off – Most snowblower engines are fitted with a gas tap. If your engine is fitted with a tap it will be located between the gas tank and the carburetor. Turning the tap cuts the fuel and that’s really useful when draining the gas tank. If your engine doesn’t have a tap fitted, use a clamp or gently pinch the gas line using a small grips.
  • Remove the fuel line from the carburetor and place the end inside a suitable container. Turn gas tap on.
  • Drain the tank completely, and add fresh gas to rinse through the line.
  • Check the tank for residue or rust particles.
  • Use a long screwdriver with grease on the tip to collect debris from the tank base.
  • Replace gas filter. Many engines use a bottle type filter which is easy to identify, however some engines employ a filter inside the gas line at the tank end. Remove, clean and refit if applicable.
  • Refit gas line to carburetor.

It is advisable to drain the carburetor bowl also, although all engines will have some type gas filter fitted, grit still makes it through to the bowl.

Mower gas tank

Winged & Threaded caps

Draining Snowblower Gas Tank

To clean the bowl follow these steps:

  • Turn fuel tap off
  • Located the bowl at the base of the carburetor
  • Remove the bowl fastener and have some rags handy for small fuel spill
  • Clean grit from the bowl and rinse with fresh gas
  • Position the bowl, careful not to pinch the bowl seal
  • Tighten the fastener, not too tight.

Turn gas on and check for leaks. If the bowl leaks, loosen and retighten the bowl fastener.

Old carburetor gaskets often leak after being disturbed, so if the leak persists, go ahead and order a new bowl seal and bowl fastener gasket.

  1. Dipstick – One of the easiest ways to identify a four stroke engine is the presence of an engine oil dipstick. Four stroke engines as you know require engine oil and that oil level needs to be checked. Identifying a dipstick means your snowblower is a four stroke and does not require mixed gas.
  2. Valve cover – Another typical identifying feature of a modern four stroke engine is the presence of a valve cover (OHV).
Vented mower gas caps

Vented gas caps

Removing Snowblower Gas Tank

Removing the gas tank to clean it is likely the most amount of work, but hey it’s a snowblower it’s not so difficult to work on. Nevertheless, you may need a few tools depending on how well concealed your gas tank is.

More modern snowblowers employ a ton of covers and so obviously they’ll need to be removed first.

Generally, in the workshop I don’t remove gas tanks unless there’s a problem. I find I can clean the tank pretty well with the tank in place. That said, I’ll describe the removal process briefly.

  • Clamp the gas line between the tap and the gas tank
  • Remove covers to access the gas tank
  • Remove the gas line from the tap (If fitted) otherwise remove it from the carburetor
  • Locate the gas tank fasteners usually 3 or 4Remove the gas tank
  • Drain the gas tank into a suitable container by removing the fuel line clamp
  • With the tank drained, rinse with fresh gas and shake upside down to remove debris
  • Refit gas tank in reverse order

As per above, it’s advisable to drain and clean the gas bowl to complete the fuel system repair.

Syphoning Snowblower Gas Tank

This is the preferred method, why? Because it’s so easy. The downside is, it requires a specialized tool – an oil / gas syphon. This tool isn’t expensive and if you do your own maintenance, you’ll find a ton of uses for it.

It just saves me a ton of labor and it’s mess free. It’s long flexible hose can fit around corners of gas tanks and reach into a crankcase to remove oil.

The process looks like this:

  • Open the gas cap and using just an LED light (no spark risk) and the syphon, I empty the gas tank. The syphon will lift grit and larger debris will stick to the syphon hose.
  • Add a small amount of fresh gas and repeat to rinse.

Easy right? I still need to clean the gas bowl though, some bowls do have a handy drain bolt, but I find it doesn’t remove the grit from the bowl. No substitute for removing and cleaning it.

Using Gas Stabilizer In Snowblower

I advise all my customers to use gas stabilizer. It is especially important to engines that spend a good deal of time sitting idle.

Blended gas is the issue. The ethanol blend tends to damage the rubber and plastic components of the fuel system in addition ethanol goes stale pretty quickly.

When ethanol goes off it gummies up the fuel system and that can be difficult and expensive to fix.

These type problems are easy to side step, but you’ll need to use a gas stabilizer. It’s a fuel additive specially formulated to protect the plastic and rubber components and also to keep the gas fresh.

Mixing is easy, remembering to use it at the end of the season is the hard part.

You can of course decide to use it all season and that’s fine, however most only use it before storing their kit at season’s end. It works great in all small engines 2 and 4 stroke.

How to mix gas stabilizer

Each manufacturer has their own ratio, I use a brand named Sta-bil. I mix 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of stabilizer to one gallon of gas.

l shake the can and add it to all my small engine kit. The engines do need to run a while to work the treated gas throughout the fuel system.

This stuff works, it only costs a few dollars but will save you time, money and stress. You can find the stabilizer I use here on the “Snowblower maintenance tools page”.  You’re welcome!


Auto Technician and Writer at Lawnmowerfixed | Website

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write "How to" articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of mechanical repairs, from lawn mowers to classic cars.