Tips For Maintaining Your Snow Blower and Operating It Safely

Check out these important tips for using a snow blower and getting it prepped before a heavy snowfall.

It could probably be said for any number of tools in my workshop, but this week,the snow blower is the tool that changed everything. (Learn more about what features to look for in a snow blower in this post.)

It was a worthwhile investment, that snow blower, and something I would always recommend for driveways that are daunting in any way (and also for people that never see shoveling as fun… <waves>). As much as I strive to keep our home warm and energy efficient during the winter months, we also work hard to keep this tool in good health in the hopes that it serves us well at a moments notice, and for years to come.

If you have, or are looking to buy a snow blower, remember that seasonal maintenance is important, and there are things you’ll need to do before, during, and after each use that contribute to your own safety:

Be aware of the basics

These tools are not maintenance-free, even with a warranty. Gas-powered and electric models vary slightly in their needs, but both require some degree of upkeep. Plan on replacing spark plugs and air filters every year. Monitor tire pressure, oil level, gas level, lubrication, and the condition of the rubber paddles and rubber belts. If your tool is electric, make sure the cord and any extension cords are in good condition (and be wary about accidentally running it over while you’re plowing).

Always check for loose bolts and pins.

This type of machine reverberates constantly during use, which will loosen fittings over time. I wouldn’t say that loose nuts and bolts are a manufacturer’s defect, as much as they are something you are responsible for maintaining yourself. Familiarize yourself with all of the bolts and pins, so you can easily identify if one is missing. Before and after each use, give all exposed bolts a twist with your hand; if they feel loose, tighten them up. If they are loose when you start your tool, the reverberations may be just enough to jostle the screw completely free, causing potential injury, or just making your tool stop working mid-job. (We just dealt with this – real bummer! Had to find a replacement bolt to get it working again.)

Know how to unclog the chute

The chute on the snow blower may get clogged at some point, and it usually when you’re powering through heavier snow, like that dense stuff left by the plows at the foot of your driveway. Always remember to chip away at the heavy snow slowly, and if the chute does get clogged, turn off the tool entirely (let the blade stop spinning), and use the clean-out tool to remove the blockage. Don’t risk using your hand. If you need to buy a clean-out tool, here’s a standard model to check out.

Always clean the snow blower after use.

Your machine will be covered in snow after its use, and if you leave it like that, you risk the snow and ice hardening around the auger and impeller while it’s stored in your garage or shed. Build up of this snow and ice may impede its ability to function next time you need to start it up. Once it’s turned off (go ahead and unplug it or loosen the spark plug for extra safety) use a long handled brush and the clean-out tool to clear off snow and ice that’s both inside and outside the machine.

Know your tool – Read the manual!

There are protocols for specific models that I can’t cover for lack of depth in knowledge. Read that manual front to back, and if you bought used and it didn’t come with a manual, do a quick search online by referring to the make and model number, and find one provided by the manufacturer. If you can’t find one digitally, call the manufacturer directly for more information.

Next Up

Tips for Snow Blower Shopping

Learn features to look for when buying a new snow blower based on your own home's specific needs.

12 Things to Know Before You Start Your Snow Blower

Check out these tips for using a snowblower so you'll be ready when the next storm hits.

5 Ways to Survive Your Snow Day

Don't get bored on a snow day. Here a few suggestions on how to use the extra time wisely or just have fun.

Tips for Insulating Your Home During a Cold Spell

Make sure your home is well-insulated to save on utility costs and to keep you and your family comfortable.

Fall Gardening, Planting and Lawn Care Tips

The gardening season isn't over when the weather gets cooler.

Tips for Cold-Weather Travel (With Kids!)

Family road trips require special planning and patience. Layer on the unpredictability of winter weather, bulky layers, and the need for special automotive preparedness, and there’s so much more to consider.

Tips For Feeding the Birds and Squirrels During the Snowy Months

Don't forget the backyard wildlife during the winter months. Check out these easy recipes for suet and dried corn, plus find more tips for feeding birds and squirrels.

5 Quick Cleaning Tips + Tricks for the Summer Season

Get your house and yard summer-ready with these easy cleaning hacks. 

26+ Tips for Combating Seasonal Allergies

If you're sensitive to tree, grass and weed pollen, these natural remedies and tips can help reduce symptoms. 

Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

Learn how to clean and maintain your charcoal grill so it'll last for years. 

What We're Loving Now

More From the Archives

Browse through our archives to discover "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" projects, cool hacks and  genius DIY ideas.

Read Our Previous Posts

Meet the Team

About the Team

Get to know the crafty, creative writers and editors behind DIY's Made+Remade blog. 

Go Behind the Blog