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Snowblower Surging and Backfiring? Here’s What to Do


Causes of a snow blower surging and backfiring.

There’s no worse feeling that having your equipment fail just when you need it the most. So, if your snowblower is surging and backfiring, you need it to be fixed— and quickly.

If your snowblower is surging and backfiring, it’s most like related to carburetor issues, maintenance problems, or broken parts. All of these can seriously impact your snowblower’s performance and prevent it from working correctly.

Issues relating to the carburetor are the most common when it comes to surging and backfiring problems. Through a simple trial and error process, you can look for common causes and periodically check to see if the problem has been resolved. Keep reading for troubleshooting tips and tricks to identify the cause behind your snowblower issues and how to fix it.

What to Do If Your Snowblower Is Surging and Backfiring

There are a few different reasons your snowblower may be surging and/or backfiring. These include:

  • Running Lean – If your carburetor is running lean, this means your air-to-fuel mixture is off and that the engine isn’t getting enough fuel (source).
  • Cleanliness – Small maintenance issues can quickly escalate into performance problems if they’re not regularly addressed.
  • Broken Parts – If a part in your snowblower is broken, either inside or linked to the carb, then it’s likely affecting the performance.

It’s possible that you may be able to identify the problem from the list above. Once identified, you can look for specific solutions to that issue.

But in case you can’t identify the issue or the solutions for the identified problem aren’t working, here’s a list of what you can do to prevent future surging and backfiring.

Make Sure Your Carb Isn’t Running Lean

If your carburetor is running lean, then either the ignition chamber is igniting with too much air or too little fuel. This often happens when fuel is left in your snowblower for a long period of time, such as over summer.

Whether you did or didn’t leave gas in it, replace the gas with a fresh fill. Then, add a fuel stabilizer like Seafoam or Sta-Bil. Make sure to follow the instructions closely, although you can add a little extra for cleaning purposes.

Depending on how long your snowblower has been sitting, you may need to give the fuel stabilizer a few hours to break down old gas and become effective.

Then, to make absolutely sure your carb is cleaned out, you can try these options:

  • Close the choke and run the engine for a while. This will allow the fuel stabilizer to clean out gunked up passages and blockages in the carburetor.
  • Spray a carb cleaner down the carb throat. This will specifically focus on that area and similarly make sure it’s clear.
  • Check the fuel lines attaching the gas tank and carb. If these are hard, brittle, or broken, you’ll need to replace them. Similarly, check intact lines for leaks. 

Once this done and before you try turning your snowblower on, it may be a good idea to prime it first. This is especially true if your ‘blower has been idle for a long period of time. To prime it, press the primer bulb three to five times. This forces fuel into the carb, making ignition easier.

After you try these solutions, open the choke and turn on the snowblower. If it’s no longer surging and backfiring, success! If it’s still having issues, try these other solutions.

Check to See If Your Carb Is Clean

As one of the main components of a snowblower, a lot of issues can be traced back to the carburetor. So, if you’re still experiencing issues after making sure the fuel isn’t running lean and cleaning the choke and carb throat, it may help to partially dissemble and clean the carburetor.

Follow these steps to quickly and effectively clean your snowblower:

  • Turn off your snowblower and let it cool
  • Turn off the petcock
  • Drain, remove, and clean the fuel bowls
  • Remove and clean the jets
  • Spray the carb with a cleaner
  • Replace old gaskets
  • Blow away debris with compressed air
  • Remove rust using sandpaper
  • Check air filters and replace if necessary

Make sure to thoroughly check every part of your carb, even small parts such as nuts and bolts.

If you completely removed the carburetor to clean it, reassemble and reattach it using a carburetor kit. Use your snowblower’s instruction manual, if necessary, to make sure all of the necessary parts are present and correctly placed.

This YouTube video does an excellent job of explaining the breakdown, cleaning, and rebuild of a snowblower carburetor:

FIXING A Snowblower That Surges

Once your snowblower is completely cleaned and reassembled, start the engine to see if the problem has been fixed or if it’s still present.

Examine Snowblower Parts Commonly Linked to Other Issues

Once you’ve excluded your carburetor as a potential source for the surging and backfiring, you can move onto other parts also commonly linked to issues. These include:

  • Fuel Lines – We mentioned this one again, but it bears repeating. Make sure both the fuel lines and their connection points are still secure and intact.
  • Sparkplugs – Make sure your spark plug isn’t damaged. If you have one, use a spark tester to see if it’s still working correctly.
  • Ignition Coil – Similar to the spark plug, make sure your ignition coil isn’t damaged or otherwise not functioning.
  • Shear Pin and Bolt – If your shear pin and bolt are broken, your auger should be the primary victim. Even so, replace them if need be.
  • Cogged and V-Belt – Check the cogged belt and v-belt to make sure neither is suffering from excessive wear and tear.
  • Drive Disk – Make sure your drive disk isn’t broken, worn, or greasy. Replace it in the case of the first scenario; otherwise, clean it.
  • Control Cable – Check to make sure your control cable can move freely and is still intact; apply oil or lubricant to help with movement or replace if broken.

Independently, these parts haven’t necessarily been linked to surging or backfiring issues. However, they can cause a chain reaction that may be impacting your snowblower’s functionality.

Do Research and Check for Alternative Solutions

If you’ve tried all of the solutions above and your snowblower is still surging and backfiring, then it’s time to do some research.

Before you dive into this process, make sure to have some details handy. These include your snowblower’s make, model, the issue, and solutions you’ve already tried.

  • Check the manufacturer’s materials that came with your snowblower, such as the insertions and owner’s manual. If any other documentation was included, review that as well. Pay specific attention to sections about proper use, storage, and troubleshooting.
  • If your ‘blower is still under warranty, you may be able to take it to a local retailer or repair shop that the manufacturer partners with. Call the manufacturer or check your owner’s manual for how to take advantage of your equipment coverage policy.
  • In case you don’t have a warranty and can’t figure out the problem yourself, check to see if there’s a repair shop or technician near you that services snowblowers. To avoid financial surprises, ask about their rates or for an estimate range.

Another place you can check for solutions are online forums and blogs. The company may even have these directly on their website. Manufacturers often have troubleshooting pages, FAQs, and user help forums.

In case your search doesn’t reveal a solution and none of these ideas work, contact the company directly. Navigate to your manufacturer’s website and click on their ‘Contact’ page to speak to a representative.

Conclusion

The carburetor is almost always the problem when it comes to a snowblower surging and backfiring. But ultimately remember this: both surging and backfiring are symptoms that fuel and/or air systems are not delivering consistent amounts to the engine. Look for the reasons behind this and you will find the source of the problem.

Teddy Henderson

Teddy is always fiddling with small engines, picking up thrown-out string trimmers or tearing apart dirt bikes. He shares what he learns along the way. Hopefully, you'll have less headaches than he has had by learning from his mistakes.

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