Why doesn't my snow blower blow snow anymore?
February 9, 2010 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Why doesn't my snow blower blow snow anymore?

I have a 10+ year old Toro brand snow blower. (Model #501) This is a 2 stage blower, and has been fairly reliable in the past. The engine still starts on the first pull, and I've been fairly good about maintaining it.

I'm on the East coast, and last week we got hit with about 30" of snow. Tonight we're forecast to get another 18"+. My problem is that my snow blower is now getting clogged with anything more than about 1/2" of snow. That is, the chute which blows the snow out to the side gets plugged up at the bottom and snow stops coming out. The rotors in the front then grind to a halt and I have to clear the chute by hand before I can get things into motion again. The engine never stops running during all this, and doesn't even sound like it's struggling.

Anyone have any idea why this might be happening, or maybe have a trick to stop it?
posted by Eddie Mars to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Best answer: I'd spray the chute with something like PAM. That will keep the snow from sticking and hopefully make it an easy time. Snowblowers only really work with the powdery snow, if it gets icy/wet/slushy it's just a bad problem with them.
posted by PetiePal at 11:03 AM on February 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: for the love of god DO NOT CLEAR THE CHUTE WITH YOUR HAND WHILE THE ENGINE IS RUNNING. At least get a stick man. More people lost their arms this way than you can imagine.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

cosmicbandito is right.

posted by ged at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you checked the shear pins on the rotors? They break off as a failsafe if you try to blow something other than snow. They are relatively cheap and easy to replace.
posted by Widepath at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: Forgot to mention, that I always, a) cut off the engine before clearing the chute, and b) use a stick to clear it rather than stick my hand in there. Should have been more clear.
posted by Eddie Mars at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: My family is from farm country in Iowa. I've seen enough missing limbs to know to not go poking around in running machinery.

Good idea on the Pam, I'll try that.
posted by Eddie Mars at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: We had a sort of similar problem just this week with our snowblower. Turns out there's a belt with a tensioning bar that turns the auger/rotor, and on ours this belt this belt and bar had become loose. It was a simple adjustment to make -- just remove a pin and tighten by hand. I don't know if it will help in this case, since our problem was more that the auger wouldn't turn quickly enough to move the snow, but it might be worth checking.
posted by Janta at 11:44 AM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: I want to point out for future readers that the second stage rotor, if clogged, can remain under torsion even if the engine is not running. Once the obstruction is cleared the rotor may move and with considerable force.

A co-worker of mine lost 2 1/2 fingers this way. The engine was off and he reached in to grab the chunk of ice out of the chute...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:49 AM on February 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this is a classic symptom of a loose belt on the auger, often caused by more work during heavy snow. You may be able to get away with tensioning it, but that also usually means replacement soon too.

The other possibility is a slipping clutch, but that's less likely.

Needless to say, don't tension or replace the belt with the engine running either.
posted by bonehead at 12:07 PM on February 9, 2010

Sounds like a belt issue to me too. Went through this myself not long ago.

Echoing the above: NEVER REACH INTO A CHUTE, even with the engine off! You're better off splitting the blower mechanism from the motor first. It's just way too easy to lose useful body parts.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:13 PM on February 9, 2010

Everyone go back and read FuzzyButt's comment one more time. Save your fingers, please.
posted by megatherium at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all. It was a loose belt driving the auger. I tightened it up last night, and it's working like a champ. We had about 9 inches this morning, and I went though it without even slowing down.
posted by Eddie Mars at 7:54 AM on February 10, 2010

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