Snow blowers can be a saving grace when winter rolls around, especially when you live in an area that commonly gets significant amounts of snow or if you’re located on a private road that isn’t maintained by a public plow. Since they are such handy and ultimately pricy toys to have in your garage, it’s less than ideal, to put it lightly, when you hear your trusty snow blower make a squealing sound.
Causes of a snowblower making a squealing noise include frozen machinery, a jammed impeller/auger mechanism, a damaged and/or disengaged belt, or a worn-out auger bearing.
Read on to learn more about each of these potential causes for a squealing snow blower, in addition to some simple troubleshooting steps you can take to hopefully resolve the issue.
Reasons Your Snow Blower Might Make a Squealing Noise
As a heavy piece of machinery that deals with an elemental extreme, it is not unlikely that you will experience some difficulties with your snowblower at one point or another during its use. Luckily, the machine making a squealing noise is not an uncommon occurrence. There are several reasons this could occur, including:
- Frozen machinery
- Jammed impeller/auger mechanism
- Damaged or disengaged belt
- Worn-out auger bearing
We will discuss each of these issues in further detail so that they can be remedied and potentially prevented. This will ensure such an unsettling sound does not reoccur and will guarantee the functionality of your machine.
It probably goes without saying that if you’re using your snowblower, it’s at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside or colder. Although this machine is built to function at such extreme temperatures for potentially long durations, it can still fall victim to the cold, resulting in a squealing sound.
Although snow blowers don’t have built-in heaters, it is not unlikely that the machine will heat up as you use it, especially if it is running for a long time. This heat could easily melt some of the snow that the blower is churning out, and once the machine is turned off and cools down, this water could freeze within some of the snow blower’s mechanisms.
The frozen liquid would efficiently inhibit the snow blower’s ability to rotate or function properly, and the hindrance would cause a squealing sound. The simplest way to troubleshoot this issue would be:
- Wait until the temperatures outside increase enough to heat up your snowblower, causing any frozen liquids to thaw. You could also place it in the sun to speed the process. Afterward, when you are sure any ice would have melted, try to see if the snowblower will run properly.
- Store your snow blower in a heated location, either a heated garage or your basement, and place a blanket or tarp over it to help the machine heat-up. Wait until any potentially frozen liquids thaw and then test the machine.
- Place boards or other stable equipment under the back tires to drain any melted liquids towards the front. Prepare a few buckets of fairly hot water and pour them down the chute over the back of the impeller/blower fan. This should melt any ice build-up on the backside of the impeller and housing. Afterward, run the auger with the engine running.
With any luck, the issue will be resolved after a quick thaw session, and your machine will be up and running.
Jammed Impeller or Auger Mechanism
The impeller and the auger mechanisms are essential to the snow blower’s functionality. If they are jammed, they will likely create a squealing sound that might also imply the mechanisms are being damaged.
In terms of their roles and locations in the snowblower, the auger is the blade mechanism located in the auger house (the mouth of the snowblower), which pulls in the snow to move up into the snowblower and out the chute.
As the auger pulls in the snow, it meets the spinning impeller at the center of the auger house, which pushes the snow up the chute to be discharged from the machine.
Without these mechanisms, snow cannot pass through and out the snowblower. One of the main causes the impeller or auger mechanisms could be jammed was actually discussed in our previous point. If you see large amounts of frozen ice locking the mechanisms in place, you’ll want to thaw the machine to remedy the situation.
However, these mechanisms could also be jammed by large chunks of ice, rocks, trash, branches, or other foreign objects.
Typically, if these objects are in the auger, you could remove them carefully by hand, but be sure to pull the spark plug wire from the plug for safety before attempting any of these troubleshoots by hand.
If the jam is in the impeller, try unscrewing the screws on either side of the auger house that fastens the auger mechanism so you can drop the auger enough to loosen and dislodge the foreign object.
For additional access, you could remove the chute piece and potentially reach into the snowblower from the top to remove whatever is jammed in the impeller.
Damaged or Disengaged Belt
If a snow blower has a damaged or disengaged belt, it is typically either the drive belt or the auger belt. Since the auger belt is closer to all the action, this is the more common piece to have significant wear and tear over time, so we suggest checking this belt first.
In order to check the auger belt for damage or improper location, you’ll need to remove the belt cover first. You’ll want to make sure you have the engine turned off, and you might need a helper to hold the auger handle down while you check the belt.
If you notice the belt isn’t tight when you test it, then you should adjust the belt tension to help prevent potential disengagement and improved functionality.
In addition to checking tension, check to see if the belt is intact. If you notice pieces coming off or the belt makes the same squealing noise during operation after you have checked if it engages and disengages with the auger handle properly, it should be replaced.
You can perform a similar process to check the drive belt. If you notice that when you start your snowblower, it makes a squealing sound at first or as the drive belt engages but dies down over time, it is highly likely that the drive belt has slipped or dislodged and needs to be corrected.
Worn-out Auger Bearing
In addition to a horrendous squealing sound, another sign your auger bearing is on its way out would be that, as you engage the auger, a great deal of vibration or oscillation will occur below the chute near the back exterior where the auger house meets the impeller, by the snowblower pulley.
Replacing the auger bearing is a hefty process, but it is absolutely essential to your snow blower’s longevity and functionality. If this bearing is truly worn out and you continue to use your snow blower with it attached, it could lock-up or seize and badly score the snowblower shaft or bearing carrier. Potentially, you could ultimately risk burning-up the entire belt.
These effects have their own pricy costs, so it is best to be proactive and replace the bearing before it causes further damage to your snowblower.
As we said, replacing the auger bearing is no small feat. If you aren’t familiar with your snow blower’s mechanical make-up enough to replace this piece yourself, take it to a professional repair company, and they can do this for you at a relatively moderate price.
It’s never a good sign when your snowblower that costs hundreds of dollars is making a high-pitched or consistent squealing sound. Luckily, some of the main causes of this sound can be easily remedied, while others might require more intensive work to replace certain parts.
Ultimately, if your snowblower is making a squealing sound, we highly recommend that you don’t use it until this issue has been remedied. Continual use of your snowblower after discovering it makes this sound, especially every time it is run, means you could potentially damage other pieces of the machine to the point that it is inoperable.
Therefore, it is best to ere on the side of caution and fix the issue before you take to the snow again.