Snow Blower Summer Storage
By: Leon Rhodes
Are you worried your blower won't start next winter? Not sure if you should drain the gas or use fuel stabilizer? No problem, I've been fixing and maintaining small engines for over 30 years, this is what works best for me.
The most common reason a working snow blower won't start after being stored for the summer is gas degrading in the carburetor and damaging it or clogging it up. Properly preparing your snow blower for summer storage can prevent the need for time-consuming repairs the following winter.
Should You Drain The Gas and Run The Engine Dry?
Some people say yes while others prefer to add fuel stabilizer. From personal experience I can say that leaving gas in the tank of a snowblower for the summer has never caused any starting problems for me. Leaving gas in the carburetor however? That's not a good idea because it will eventually clog it.
Wait, what? How can you do both? Good question, these are the summer storage steps I take in preparing all of my small engines for seasonal storage.
Fill the tank and add stabilizer
Run the engine for 2-3 minutes
Shut off the fuel and run the engine dry
If your snow blower doesn't have a fuel shutoff valve
I fill the tank completely with ethanol free pump gas and I add fresh fuel stabilizer. I find that leaving fuel in the tank is not what causes corrosion issues, it's water vapor and condensation that happens in a partially filled tank that causes most of the corrosion I find.
By completely filling the snow blower tank with gas no room is left for air and if there isn't any air there can't be any condensation.
Next I run the engine for 2-3 minutes to allow the freshly stabilized gas to fill the carburetor. Adding fuel stabilizer to a snow blower gas tank won't protect the carb if old gas sits in it all summer.
While I like keeping my small engine gas tanks full during off-season storage I don't want any gas in the engine or carburetor. To drain the engine and carburetor of gas I turn the fuel shut-off valve to the off position with the engine running.
When the engine is starved of fuel it will shut off and be mostly empty. A small amount of gas usually remains in the carburetor float bowl but if you followed the steps above it will be ethanol free and stabilized and won't cause any starting problems next winter.
The two most common carburetor parts that get damaged or clogged by old fuel are the jets and the diaphragm, which will now be dry.
Not all snow blowers have a fuel shutoff valve. If yours doesn't you can clamp off the fuel line or, preferably, install one yourself. Manual fuel shutoff valves are incredibly cheap and easy to install on any fuel line.
I love small engines that have a fuel shutoff valve because they are easy to work on without leaking fuel everywhere. A pair of vice grips with the jaws covered by a piece of cut hose (to prevent them from damaging the fuel line) work well too. Except, you might want to use them for something else during the summer!
Protect the engine with oil
The piston and cylinder walls aren't immune to the effects of condensation. To prevent corrosion inside the engine remove the spark plug and squirt a few drops of oil through the spark plug hole. Next turn the engine over a few times to coat the cylinder walls.
When done make sure to re-install the spark plug to prevent air from entering the cylinder. Additionally, turn the engine over again until you feel some resistance. When you feel resistance the valves will have closed which will prevent air from reaching the cylinder through the valve openings.
Rustproof the snow blower
With the engine taken care of it's a good idea to spray the snow blower body, blades and moving parts with a good rust inhibitor. I prefer using a can of aerosol rust inhibitor made by Krown but there are several brands of lubricant to choose from.
I have had great results by spraying a small amount into a shop cloth and using it to wipe the blower body down to remove dirt and debris. Afterwards I spray a generous coating over the blades and interior passageways followed by a lighter coating on the rest of the machine.
If the snow blower has grease fittings I take the time to lubricate them as well before storage. All moving parts need to be lubricated so that they don't bind during the summer.
Protect the tires
Don't forget about the tires! Keeping the snow blower out of direct sunlight will prevent the rubber in the tires from aging and cracking more quickly.
You can also condition the tires with a good tire protecting spray. Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the tires before storage as they might damage the tire during the summer.
Invest in a good dust cover
I find that covering a snow blower with a good dust cover prevents dust from accelerating the surface oxidation process. When using a dust cover I like to make sure air can still flow up underneath it so that water can continue to evaporate. Placing the blower on a stand or wood pallet works well.
Best storage location
The best place to store a snow blower is indoors where kids and sunbeams can't access it and where it won't be in the way. A garage or storage shed works best.
Avoid leaving a snow blower outside in the elements all summer because, even if covered, it will be exposed to ground moisture and rodents and will rust more quickly.
Follow the manufacturers recommendations for model specific storage requirements, if any, especially while under warranty.
If you stored your snow blower properly and it still won't start after summer check for spark.
Before your next snow blower oil change learn more about the Best Small Engine Oil Types.