Time: 45 minutes
Winter means heaps of snow cover your driveway, walkways, deck, car, house, and pretty much everything else you own (or don’t). You scrape, you brush, you shovel — each task feels more daunting than the last. Enter your trusty snow blower — it roars to life and turns dreary shoveling into a flurry of fun. But what happens when it doesn’t work? Change your snow blower’s spark plug to get it winter ready.
What's in it for you?
- Keep your machine running reliably
- Maintain your snow blower’s engine
- Troubleshoot a common starting issue
Change Your Snow Blower’s Spark Plug to Get it Winter Ready
Find the spark plug. Pull out your snow blower and check the back of the engine. You’re looking for an L-shaped cap (it’s called a spark plug boot, in case you were wondering) with an electrical cable leading to it. Don’t see it behind the engine? It’s probably covered with a plate you’ll need to unscrew before beginning.
Double check to make sure your old spark plug needs replacing. Remember the spark plug boot? Pull it off (no need to be gentle, people) and check the spark plug for damage or grime — things like a cracked or chipped insulator or dirty metal parts on the end are sure signs you need a spark plug replacement. Grab a spark plug wrench (a special tool with cushioning to keep from cracking the fragile insulators) and turn it lefty loosey until the old spark plug comes off. Oh — if you’re thinking of just cleaning your spark plug and calling it a day, don’t bother. It won’t help your snow blower one bit.
Fit the new spark plug to your snow blower. Head over to your local hardware store with the old spark plug and get a replacement spark plug and a spark plug gap tool. Once home, open up your snow blower manual to the section on spark plug maintenance. You’re looking for instructions on how large the gap between the electrodes should be — probably around 0.03 inches or 0.76 millimeters. Pick up your spark plug gap tool, choose the blade or wire matching the measurement you found in the manual, and check the gap between the electrodes. The tool should fit closely between the metal nib at the end of the plug and the L-shaped piece of metal bent over it. If it doesn’t, use the spark plug gap tool to widen or narrow the gap.
Install the new spark plug. Thread the spark plug in the spark plug hole with your fingers so it fits like the old one did. Grab the spark plug wrench and righty tighty till the plug is snug. Don’t tighten it too much or you’ll break the plug. Snap the spark plug boot back on and, bang, you’re done.
Replace the fuel. That new spark plug isn’t going to do much if you till have last year’s gas sloshing around in your snow blower. Old gasoline breaks down and gunks up snow blower parts. If you have less than half a tank of gas left, just fill the tank with fresh gas and you’re good to go. If you have more, you’ll need to drain the tank. Use a fuel siphon — or a turkey baster if you don’t have a fuel siphon on hand — to drain most of the gas into a gas can. Top off the snow blower’s tank with fresh fuel. Easy!
Pro Tip: Grab some fuel stabilizer the next time you’re at the hardware or auto parts store. Follow the instructions on the bottle and add the correct amount to your fuel tank. It’ll keep your gas fresh for the long run.