Midseason Maintenance

It is nearing midseason for this winter. Illinois had a milder winter so far than last year, with about half the snowfall compared to the 2013-2014 season. So far, so good, but we are not, as grandma used to say, “out of the woods” quite yet. There is still plenty of time for late snowstorms to hit. It is always good to have the right equipment in good repair necessary to deal with any of the winter maintenance chores that should be done.

The hope is that everyone followed the advice on how to pick a quality snow blower if they were in the market to buy one. For those who already own a snow blower, there is nothing more irritating than needing to use it and finding that it won’t start. Plenty of things cause this trouble.  Some of them are:

  1. Key – Check to make sure the key is in and the switch is turned to the "on" position. Also, some equipment has a safety switch, which needs to be turned on for it to operate.
  2. Bad Gas – Manufacturers recommend that when a snow-blower is put in storage for a long period of time, it is first allowed to run out of gas and any residual gas in the tank is drained.
  3. Fouled Spark Plugs – An over-rich mixture of air and fuel causes carbon to build up on spark plugs preventing the spark from jumping the spark gap. Sometimes simply cleaning the spark plugs gets rid of the problem. Usually, it also means the carburetor needs adjustment as well.
  4. Low Oil – If the oil has leaked out or the level is too low, this causes failed start attempts and, ultimately, complete engine failure.
  5. Snow and Ice – Be sure to clear any snow and ice from around the fuel cap.
  6. Engine Priming – Make sure to prime the engine with gasoline if necessary. 
  7. Poor Maintenance – Following a regular maintenance schedule avoids most problems.

Maintenance Checklist
Here are the ABCs of keeping snow blowers and other winter equipment in good working order:

     A. Always change the oil regularly.
     B. Buy new spark plugs and change them when necessary.
     C. Check the equipment to make sure it works before it is really needed. 
     S. Store the equipment properly – drain fuel, clean it completely, lubricate it, and change oil right before storing at the end of the season.

There is one more "S," which is: See the professionals at Ralph Helm for annual tune-ups and seasonal maintenance.

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