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Snowblower Not Starting After Summer – Complete repair with pics

By: Author John Cunningham. Published: 2021/06/15 at 1:47 pm

That time of year again seems like no time ago since I put the snowblower away. Problems often arise at the start of the season. I’m a mechanic, and my customers usually say, “It was running fine when I put it away” Sound familiar?

A snowblower that won’t start after summer storage likely suffers from fuel system contamination. Draining the fuel system and refueling usually solves the issue. However, a carburetor cleaning may also be required.

In this post, you’ll learn the likely reason why your snowblower won’t start, and you’ll also learn what you can do to fix it right now.

Common Causes Of No Start After Summer Storage

The single most common cause of no starts after summer storage is, as you know, fuel system contamination. But what does that mean? You might ask. It means the gas in your snowblower has gone stale, and in severe cases, the stale gas congeals and gums up the fuel system, clogging the carburetor.

Stale gas is a simple repair, but gumming of the carburetor requires a little more work, but I’ve got you covered; we’ll deal with both later in this post.

Stale gas, although the most likely cause, isn’t the only possible cause.

I wrote about stale gas here in “Will a snowblower start with stale gas?”

Here’s a short list of other possibilities based on my experience, together with what we’ll need to do in order to repair them.

Oily plug

  • Fouled spark plug – remove, clean and gap, or replace.
  • Faulty armature (coil) – armature produces voltage to fire the plug, it lives under the engine cover. If a known good plug does not produce a spark and the on/off control switch is good, then go ahead and replace the armature, it’s faulty.
  • New coil

    Check out this post, “Snowblower no spark” which covers checking spark and fitting an armature, or check out this video.

    Valve stuck

  • Stuck open valve – commonly happens after an engine lays up for s time. If the valve is open after shut down corrosion can form on the stem and prevent it from closing fully. Remove the cam cover and free it by pushing on the valve spring. (see storage prep below to combat sticking valves)
  • Check out this video; it covers checking for stuck valves and how to fix them.

    Snowblower Fuel System Diagnosis

    Ok, so we suspect the problem is fuel contamination because it’s the most common cause of a no-start snowblower after summer. Checking is pretty simple; in the workshop, to quickly discover if I’m dealing with a fuel system issue or a spark issue, I pour some fresh gas down the carburetor.

    I attempt to start the engine in the normal way, and if the engine starts or makes a good attempt to start, I know the fuel is the issue.

    If, on the other hand, there is no change in the engine’s behavior, I’ll suspect one of the less common faults already listed above.

    I made a short video covering the gas shot test; you can check that out above.

    But if you don’t want to run a gas shot test, not a problem. The next test will also help confirm fuel system contamination.

    Follow these steps:

    Snow blower Gas off

    Turn the gas tap off (if fitted) or pinch the line gently with a clamp.

    Locate the gas bowl at the base of the carburetor. (May need to remove engine covers)

    Snow blower carb bowl
    Fit bowl

    Remove the gas bowl fastener.

    Check the bowl for cloudy-looking gas, grit, or corrosion.

    Dirty gas
    Jet and bowl clean

    Clean Jet and bowl.

    This whole process of cleaning the carburetor is covered in greater detail in this post “Why does snowblower make a popping noise? Or check out the video here.

    Fuel System Cleaning

    Cleaning the fuel system requires draining the gas tank, cleaning or replacing the gas filter (if fitted), and of course, cleaning the carburetor. For many, though, just draining the gas tank and cleaning the gas bowl is enough to fix the issue.

    I’ve covered carburetor cleaning in this post, “Why does snowblower make a popping noise?” or check out the video here.

    Storing A Snowblower Like a Pro

    Storing the snowblower correctly will ensure your machine starts next season’s first crank. Storage preparation isn’t difficult and only takes about an hour of your time. You may need to buy a few items to nail this procedure. You can find all the products you’ll need here on the “Snowblower maintenance tools page.”

    Check out this post, “How to store snowblower outside” or “How to store snowblower in garage.” Both these posts cover snowblower storage preparation in greater detail.

    Use Gas Stabilizer

    The gas stabilizer keeps gas fresh over the storage period. This is top of the list for a good reason. Blended gas, known as ethanol, goes stale quickly. When it goes stale, it can congeal inside the carburetor, causing damage.

    In addition to going stale, ethanol damages the plastic and rubber components of the fuel system. To protect your snowblower fuel system, add a gas stabilizer.

    Close Valves

    Valves open and close to allow gas in and exhaust gases out. After shut down, it’s normal for a valve to remain open. This isn’t an issue for short-term storage, but corrosion can enter the cylinder through the open valve over the longer term.

    This process is covered in a stepped fashion with pictures here in “How to store a snowblower in a garage.”

    To prevent this, add some engine oil, and we’ll place the engine at TDC.

    To close the valve, go ahead and:

    • Remove spark plug
    • Add capful of engine oil to cylinder
    • Place non-metallic blunt object inside the cylinder (pencil)
    • Turn over engine by hand until the pencil is pushed to the top of the cylinder (valves are now closed)
    • Refit the spark plug

    Clean Body & Protect

    Wash the machine thoroughly, allow dry, and coat it with Dupont coating. The Teflon coat helps guard against moisture, rust, and electrical damage. You can use WD40, but the Teflon works best. Safe to spray everything but belts.

    Use Breathable Cover

    Many people place a simple plastic sheet over the machine; this isn’t ideal. Plastic will trap moisture almost as bad as the machine sitting in the rain.

    A good quality breathable cover will allow trapped moisture to escape through the material.

    You can check out the cover I recommend here on the “Snowblower maintenance tools page.”

    You may also find the following posts useful:

    Will snowblower start with stale gas?

    How long do snowblowers last?

    When to change snowblower spark plug?