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Snow Blower Won’t Stay Running: Causes and Solutions

Snow Blower Won’t Stay Running: Causes and Solutions

In the aftermath of a snowstorm, the last thing you want is a snowblower that won’t stay running. The story is all too familiar, the snowblower worked the last time you used it, but now, when you start it up, it stalls. Before you run to the service repair center, there are a few causes and solutions that can get your snowblower working again. 

For a snowblower that won’t stay running, one of the most common causes is a clogged carburetor. A carburetor that is clogged or gummed-up doesn’t deliver the needed fuel to keep the snowblower running. Cleaning the carburetor will, in most cases, result in a long-running snowblower.     

The good news is, many of the common problems that cause a snowblower to stop running, including a clogged carburetor, can be solved at home. Read on for a breakdown of the problems your snowblower may have and how to fix them. 

What Makes a Snow Blower Stop Running? 

Don’t let the use of a snowblower fool you into thinking it isn’t a delicate piece of machinery. Several things can affect the performance of your snowblower, including: 

  • Cold temperatures
  • Long periods without use
  • Poor cleaning techniques 

There are a number of different parts, valves, vents, and lines that can become clogged on a snow blower, resulting in the machine stalling out. Additionally, engine oil or fuel can be the culprit, causing your snow blower to stop running. 

While working through these snow blower solutions, we find it very helpful to have your owner’s manual nearby for reference. Since every snow blower is different, where you will find the valves, switches, fuel lines, etc., will vary. We’ll get into the most common causes and how to fix them in the sections below.

The Carburetor May Be Clogged 

In many cases, it is the carburetor that is the cause of a snowblower that won’t stay running. 

When the carburetor gets clogged, the engine of the snowblower dies because enough fuel cannot be delivered to keep it running (source). Fuel left in the snowblower for a long period of time becomes sticky and clogs up the carburetor. 

How to Fix It

The good news is the solution for a clogged carburetor is open simple and something you can do yourself. 

Clean the Carburetor

Using a carburetor cleaner like Gumout (link to Amazon) can rid your snowblower of the sticky fuel and result in a well-running machine. If the carburetor cleaner doesn’t work, you may need to clean and rebuild the carburetor or replace the entire carburetor. 

Replace the Carburetor

A carburetor repair kit can allow you to clean and rebuild your carburetor at home. The type of carburetor repair kit you will need will depend on the model of snowblower you have. Be sure to check your snowblower owner’s manual for more information on buying the proper carburetor repair kit. 

Switches May Not Be in the Proper Positions 

It may seem like a simple step, but it is always helpful to make sure that all of the snowblower switches are in the correct position. In the hustle and bustle of a snowstorm, switches and valves on the snowblower can easily be switched into the wrong position. In this case, it may be a simple fix to getting your snowblower running again. 

I had a buddy who was throwing a fit over a small engine starting then dying. It turned out he has the gas turned off. Simple fix so don’t overlook the obvious.

How to Fix It

The user manual that came with your snowblower should indicate where the switches should be set to. Most likely, this includes: 

  • Throttle in the “High” position.
  • Fuel shut-off valve in the “Open” position.
  • Choke in the “Full” position. 
  • Run switch set to “On.” 

Fuel Cap Vent May Be Clogged

In order for a snowblower to properly, air must be able to enter the tank as the fuel level in the tank lowers. If air cannot enter the tank, a “vapor lock” is created, which prevents the engine from being able to run properly. 

How to Fix It

Checking the fuel cap vent for clogs is easy. Simply slightly unscrew the fuel cap and start the engine; if this allows the engine to stay running, then the fuel cap vent needs to be replaced. 

Snow Blower Fuel May Be Old

Over time, the fuel in your snowblower can become a problem. When fuel sits without being used, it can become sticky or gummy, which prevents your snow blower from running properly. 

How to Fix It

Draining and replacing the fuel in your snowblower can help remove any sticky or gummy fuel and replace it with fresh fuel. With the help of a small siphon pump, gas can be easily removed from the tank of the snowblower. Fill the tank with fresh gas and see if your snowblower stays running. 

Spark Plug May Be Worn or Damaged

If the spark plug of your snowblower shows signs of wear or damage, it can be the cause of your snowblower not running properly (source). This is usually going to cause issues with the engine starting more than it staying running but make sure there isn’t an issue so that we can check it off the list.

There are several scenarios that can result in a spark plug that isn’t working properly, including a cracked insulator, a burned electrode, or buildup at the electrode. In all of these cases, the remedy is to replace the spark plug. 

How to Fix It

Using a spark plug tester (link to Amazon) can be a simple way to determine if your snowblower has a defective spark plug. While using a spark plug tester, a spark should appear on the tester when cranking the engine; if it doesn’t, it is time to replace your spark plug.

Engine Oil May Be Overfilled 

Engine oil, while necessary, can cause problems in excess. Overfilled engine oil can leak into the carburetor and cause the snowblower engine to stop running. 

How to Fix It

If the engine oil of your snowblower is overfilled, the carburetor will need to be removed and cleaned, following the steps above. Finally, you will need to ensure that the engine oil is filled to the proper level before restarting the snowblower. 

When to Call a Service Technician for Your SnowBlower

If none of these solutions fix your snowblower, it might be time to call in the professionals. A snowblower repair technician can help diagnose and solve the source of your snowblower problems. If your snowblower may still be under warranty, remember to check the user manual for instructions on how to proceed. 

On average, snowblower repairs can cost between $50-$350, depending on the cause of your problem. Depending on the original price of your snow blower, and its age, it can make more sense to replace rather than repair your snowblower. 

Maintain Your SnowBlower Year Round

Once you get your snowblower in great working order, you’ll want to take steps to avoid future machine problems. Routine maintenance and care throughout the year can make the difference between a snowblower that starts up and runs and a stalled-out snowblower. 

Maintenance Checklist:

  • Always use fresh gas with a fuel stabilizer. 
  • Change the snow blower engine oil regularly. 
  • Regularly inspect, tighten, and replace parts as necessary
  • Lubricate the moving parts of your snowblower. Always consult your owner’s manual first to ensure you use the right lubricant. 
  • Keep extra shear pins around for quick replacement.

These simple tips can get and keep your snow blower ready for the next blockbuster storm.


With proper upkeep, you should be able to ward off many of the snowblower issues discussed above.  However, if you do find yourself with a stalled snowblower, now you know what to do. If you want to be ahead of the game, check for these issues before the snow hits the ground!