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What Are the Most Common Snow Blower Problems?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 16, 2024
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Some of the most common snow blower problems include plugged intakes and plugged discharge chutes. Other problems are slipping transmissions and tire slippage or loss of traction. One problem that plagues many snow blower owners is the difficulty starting the machine in the cold of winter. Another of the more common problems is difficulty seeing, as the snow sometimes has a tendency to blow back into the operator's face. Other operator problems come in the form of fatigue and slipping while walking behind the machine.

A snow blower is a machine used for removing snow from a sidewalk, driveway or other surface. One of the most common snow blower problems is the plugging of the snow intake. Typically fitted with a horizontal auger, the snow is pulled into the second stage blower device, where it is the blown up and out of the machine. Snow, especially wet and heavy snow, can occasionally become plugged in the intake, rendering the machine useless. The operator must turn the engine off and dig the snow out of the front of the machine until the mechanism is clear and free once again.

Closely linked to the plugging of the intake area of the machine is another of the more common snow blower problems, a plugged discharge chute. The discharge chute is the banana-shaped device used to guide the snow up and out of the machine. As the snow is brought into the blower device of the machine, paddles that are spun by the engine throw the snow up into the discharge chute, where it is directed by the operator towards a direction that will not be in the way. Wet snow often builds up in the chute and creates a blockage, which must be removed by the operator for the machine to be used.

The typical fix for the plugged chute is to use a small pole or shovel and poke the snow down and out of the chute. Spinning tires are another of the more common snow blower problems. The easiest fix for this is the application of tire chains, which can give the tires additional traction and drive the snow blower ahead into the snow. Starting the engine of the machine is also one of the more common of all snow blower problems. The typical fix for this is to add an electrical starter onto the machine to do away with pulling a starter rope in sub-zero temperatures.

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Discussion Comments
By mobilian33 — On Oct 22, 2014

I had never thought of placing chains on my snow blower tires. I usually put down kitty liter or something to help the wheels gain traction as needed when they are spinning. Attaching chains sounds like a good idea. I'll have to give them a try next time we get snow.

By Drentel — On Oct 22, 2014

@Feryll - Difficulty firing up is a common problem with snow blowers, as the last paragraph explains. You should try installing an electric starter as recommended in the article.

I had a snow blower that would take forever to start even when I first bought the thing. Also, I bought it brand new out of the store, so a new one can be just as stubborn as a used one. Once I installed the electric starter I had few problems. To be honest, it still didn't start every time on the first try, but at least I wasn't wearing out my arm pulling on the rope starter.

By Feryll — On Oct 21, 2014

Until I moved recently, I didn't have to concern myself with moving snow very often. Most of the places where I have lived didn't get much snowfall during the winter. The little snow that I have seen has usually melted away on its own, and since it wasn't very deep it didn't cause any problems for me.

Anyway, I moved last year, and we got a good amount of snow. I bought a secondhand snow blower from a friend. I knew it wasn't in great condition, but I only needed something to get us through the winter, until we could buy a better one.

Well, what I ended up with last winter was a machine that took up space in my garage, a machine that might or might not work when I took it out after a snowfall to move snow. The first time I used it I had to spend almost an hour attempting to start it. By the time it was running and ready to go, I was exhausted.

The good news is that the snow blower only has problems starting when the weather is cold. Of course, the bad news is that the weather is usually cold when it snows.

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