One winter morning you may awake to find that the world has entered a new ice age. Walls of snow have trapped you in your home. However, you’ve prepared for this moment. Months of upkeep and a major investment in a good gas powered snow blower have left you confident that you’ll have it all cleared out before the afternoon.

However, as soon as you step outside, you’re shocked to discover that your snow blower won’t start. No matter how hard you try it won’t sputter to life.

It’s incredibly easy to forget about basic maintenance when it comes to something like a snow blower. It’s only useful a few times a year, so it sat in the garage or tool shed without so much as a second glance.

However, you would know that like any gas-driven machine, they need regular check-ups to stay in shape.

The following article is a troubleshooting guide for when your snow blower simply won’t start. There are several steps you can take before you’re forced to replace it. It should act as a clear checklist for narrowing down the problems. Hopefully, by the end you’ll have fixed the issue and saved yourself a ton of time and money.

7 Reasons Why you Snow Blower Won’t Start

1. Empty Fuel Tank

It’s all too easy to forget that your snow blower needs fuel. You want to just rip through the snow, but you have to make sure it’s got the juice to run. Before getting started, check your fuel levels and your oil. Make sure the machine is full of good, clean gas so there are no issues from the beginning.

If there’s fuel in the tank, make doubly sure that it isn’t dirty or old. You can tell by nothing if the fuel leaves a varnish-like coating in the carburetor. Furthermore, old fuel is only really useful if a stabilizer has been added before storing it away. Without a stabilizer it will have lost most of its volatility.

If you’ve got bad fuel in the tank, drain it all through the carburetor. You can then add fresh gas and a stabilizer to get things rolling again. If that expired or dirty gas has been sitting in the carburetor for long, it may have significantly dirtied the system and a replacement carburetor might be necessary.

The same goes for all the lines and filters that the gas has to pass through. These can get filthy and blocked up if not properly maintained. In either case, a professional should be able to replace all these at a shop.

However, this could all have been avoided if you had a battery powered snow blower from the start.

2. Fuel Shut-Off Valve

Even simpler, you may have just forgotten to flip the switch on the all-important fuel shut-off valve. All you need to do is flip to the “On” position and you are all set to go. If you’re not used to gas-powered equipment this too easy to forget.

3. Safety Switch

If these steps don’t immediately work, then your snow blower might be in safety mode. These are often activated and deactivated via a safety key switch and/or a red toggle switch. Check that the key is fully inserted, and the red toggle is set to “Run.”

If either of these aren’t in their proper positions, then the snow blower will not start by design. Worse yet, if you forgot about these completely but were trying to start-up, your engine may have flooded. Thus, make a point to properly adjust them every time you try to fire up.

4. Choke

When starting any engine up from cold whether it’s on a motorcycle or a snow blower, you will probably want to flip the choke on. The chock ensures that only a limited amount of air is flowing through the engine and that there is a comparably high amount of fuel in the cylinder. This helps keep the engine running while it warms up.

5. Throttle

If you have a snow blower with a throttle, make sure that it’s turned to at least three quarters speed.

6. Spark Plug

If all these steps haven’t solved the problem, then it’s time to get a little more technical. In this case, you will want to remove your sparkplug and investigate.

If you notice that the plug is wet, then fuel has flooded the plug hole and it all needs to be cleaned. Clean and wipe your sparkplug and then turn over the engine several time before reinstalling it. This will get all the fuel out of the hole before you replace the plug.

You may also need to check the sparkplug gap. The gap between the central and side electrodes of a sparkplug must be an exact distance apart. Anything less will mean the plug is firing off inefficiently or not at all. If it’s misaligned, then adjust it to fix the issue. You’ll likely need a feeler gauge to do this right.

Lastly, if the porcelain portion of your plug is cracked or damaged then you will need a new one in order to start up the snow blower.

7. Starters

However, if after all this, the snow blower remains dormant, then it may be the starter itself. The machine is in perfect working order but the one thing it needs to actually fire up is dead. Most modern,single stage gas-powered snow blowers have an electric start button.

These are handy but are liable to break after a lot of use. They can sometimes trick people into thinking the whole machine is kaput. However, you can avoid buying a whole new blower if you take it into the shop and just replace the button.

Troubleshooting Conclusion

A snow blower is a beautiful thing. If properly maintained, it can last a lifetime. You can avoid most of these issues by making sure to familiarize yourself with how your blower operates. Furthermore, check on it during the off-season and make sure it’s staying clean and isn’t gummed up with old, dirty fuel.

If you still find yourself at an impasse, then don’t forget to take it in for repairs. Getting a professional tune-up can save you from spending a fortune on a new machine.