Snowblower Won't Start After Sitting? (We Have a Few Fixes)

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

Being completely snowed in with a snowblower that won’t start because it hasn’t been used since the previous year’s snowfall can be extremely frustrating. If this happens to you, you have two simple options: Either do what it takes to fix it or pick up a shovel and start digging. But, what exactly do you need to do to fix your snowblower?

If you’re having problems getting your snowblower to start after not having used it for an extended period, the fuel in the engine might be stale. Before use, you’ll have to drain the tank to add new fuel and stabilizer. If the engine still doesn’t work, the next step will be ensuring the carburetor isn’t dirty. Also, check that the spark plugs are in good shape.

If you haven’t used your snowblower for some time, you should anticipate some problems. However, there’s no need to panic. The equipment just requires a few easy checks and fixes that can be done at home, without the need to take it to a repair shop. Now let’s go through the simple steps you’ll need to follow to troubleshoot and common issues. In most cases, they’ll get your snowblower working and doing the job you need.

Snowblower Won’t Start After Sitting

Snowblowers are notorious for clunking out when they aren’t used regularly. There may be a couple of years in a row where you won’t need to use your piece of machinery. So, when you need it, chances are it won’t work right away if it’s been sitting for a bit.

The above scenario is a primary example of why it’s good to run it to cycle the oil anyway. But, if you haven’t done that, there are several steps you can take to get your snowblower back in working condition.

Check If All Switches Are In The Right Position

The first thing to check is that all the switches and valves are in the correct position; otherwise, the motor won’t start.

  • Make sure that the throttle is set to “High.”
  • Fuel shut-off valve should be “Open.”
  • The choke: “Full.”
  • The run switch has to be “On.”

Remember to check that the ignition key is correctly inserted and positioned. If the snowblower also has a red toggle switch, it needs to be in the “Run” position. Although it may seem obvious, check that you have enough fuel in the tank. It’s surprising how often people forget to check this.

Change The Gas And Add Stabilizer

Degraded fuel is the most typical reason for snowblowers to have issues starting after not using them for months on end. Unless you took the precaution of adding a fuel stabilizer to the equipment before it was stored, it’s now crucial that the whole system is drained and refilled.

When fuel sits for months, it can become viscous, resulting in blocked lines when you try to use it. The solution is to remove the old fuel, either via the fuel line or by using a siphon pump. Once the tank has been completely emptied, add new fuel, plus a stabilizer.

A good quality brand, such as STA-BIL Storage, will dissolve any remaining gunk and help stop the fresh gas from deteriorating. If the motor doesn’t start straight away when you’ve done this, just leave the snowblower for an hour or so to give the stabilizer chance to work. Then, try again.

Prime The Engine

It’s also important to prime the engine at this point, especially if the snowblower has been sitting in low temperatures for an extended period.

To do this, pump a little fuel into the carburetor, so it can easily be ignited. Then quickly pump the rubber primer bulb three to five times and start the blower immediately. Do this a couple of times to get a cold engine to start after an extended period when it hasn’t been used.

Clean Your Carburetor

If the motor still won’t start after the fuel change and addition of a stabilizer, it’s most likely that old gummy fuel has blocked the carburetor. The way to address this issue is to clear out the clogs with a carburetor with a specialist cleaner, such as Gumout.

The first step, identify and access the carburetor. If you’re not sure where it is, use your owner’s manual or search online. It’ll be easy to find on Start by taking out the gas bowl to access the main jet and the emulsion tube.

Spray the carb cleaner onto the center’s opening and the main jet so that you unblock every small hole. Then replace all screws, ensuring they’re tightly in place. Prime the motor, and it should now start without any problems.

Check The Fuel Line And Filter

Another reason for problems starting your snowblower after it’s not been operated for a while could be that the fuel line is blocked or damaged. Check that your fuel line hasn’t cracked, isn’t leaking, and hasn’t become twisted so that the gas can’t move through it.

The fuel line should be flexible and easy to manipulate, so if it feels hard and brittle, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. Replacement lines are readily available online. At this point, check the gas filter. If it’s blocked or there are signs of damage, it will also need replacing to avoid ongoing problems,

Replace The Spark Plugs

If the motor still won’t start after these checks, the most likely cause is a faulty spark plug. Generally, spark plugs should be checked and changed each season. They are inexpensive and can easily be purchased online.

Start by disconnecting the spark plug wire so you can access the spark plug. Using a deep socket wrench, detach it. Check for carbon reside and attempt to clean it with carburetor cleaner. If too much carbon has built up, or the ceramic insulator shows signs of damage, it will need to be replaced.

Before installing the new spark plug, ensure that the space between the ground and the center electrode is appropriate for your model. This information will be provided in the owner’s manual. The gap is usually between .025″ and .030“. Use a tools-gapper to ensure that you adjust to the correct size.

Why Won’t My Snowblower Work After Summer?

As explained above, the most common reason for a snowblower not to start is stale gas clogging the carburetor, fuel filter, and fuel line. The best way to avoid this is to be proactive and add a fuel stabilizer at the end of the season and before storage. This will save you from having to drain the system. However, if it still won’t start, despite draining and adding a stabilizer, the likely culprit is a faulty spark plug.

What Causes A Snowblower Carburetor To Leak After Sitting?

The most common cause is that the carburetor bowl gasket has dried out and started to leak. Inspect the float and needle to see if they’ve become blocked with debris. Check that no gas has entered the float. Use a flashlight to ensure that no tiny pinholes have developed in the fuel bowl – they can appear slowly, over long periods.

When To Seek Professional Help

There should be no need if you put your skills to use and carry out some simple maintenance before there’s a problem. Typically, cold engines are a little ‘sleepy’ when they’re first used after a period of sitting. Just follow the steps we outlined above.

Ensure all switches and valves are in the correct position for starting the motor; add fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer; prime the motor; clean the carburetor with carb cleaner, then change the fuel line, fuel filter, or spark plug if damaged.

Related Questions

Why is fuel not getting into my snowblower’s motor?

The first thing to ask is whether the fuel is fresh, so you can exclude the possibility of sticky residue, resulting from stale fuel clogging up the carburetor. If this has happened, and it’s not possible to clean it, you may need to replace the carburetor,

Do I need to change the spark plug each season?

Replacing the spark once per year is good maintenance practice.  It will help to avoid issues arising now when you need the snowblower to work.An alternative is to change after the snowblower has been used for around 100 hours.  It’s a good idea to clean the spark plug after each 20-30 hours, so you can check its condition and ensure the gap is correct. Not only will you avoid problems from dirt build-up, but you’ll also see signs that it will need to be changed.

How often should I change the oil in my snowblower?

The short answer is at least once per year, preferably at the end of the snow season before storage. Never use oil in your blower for more than two years.  It is likely to cause problems starting the motor.

Wrapping It Up

All in all, the best piece of advice that we can give you from here on out is to run your snowblower at least once every three months for a couple of minutes. This will decrease the likelihood that it will fail to start when you need it. However, if your snowblower won’t start, by following the steps above, you should be able to get it back into shape in no time.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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