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Save Money with DIY Snow Blower Maintenance





savemoneysnowblowerNewfoundland is sometimes known for its rugged beauty, friendly people, offshore oil and the weather.  More specifically about the weather, our winters are typically fairly mild averaging between +5C to -10C but mild weather can mean more snow.   I’ll be honest, we get a lot of snow.  It is very common here for a homeowner to own a snow blower because occasionally the snowbanks are simply too high for shoveling.  To me, owning a snow blower in NL is equivalent to the need of owning a lawn mower.

Having said that, while a snow blower helps save time (and my back), there is a cost involved with owning one.  There is the obvious upfront capital cost, but also an ongoing cost of fuel and maintenance.  My philosophy is to buy quality, but keep it for as long as possible, which in this case means regular maintenance is required.

When it comes to small engine repair and maintenance, due to my lack of experience, my first instinct is to hire someone to do the work.   Here is some of the costs quoted to me when I phoned small engine repair shops around town.

Cost of Snow Blower Maintenance at the Shop

  • $50-$70 for pickup/drop off + tax (my vehicle is not big enough for the snow blower);
  • $80/hr for technician;
  • Cost of oil, spark plugs and other required fixes; and,
  • 2-3 week lead time.

By my calculations, the annual maintenance cost would be $200 + tax/year which would increase significantly if any repairs were required.  $200/year in maintenance is a lot of money for a typical snow blower that costs $1,200.  I mean, I don’t pay much more than that for my vehicle!

So off I went to YouTube to check out the process required for a snow blower oil change, spark plug change and other maintenance items.  It turns out that changing the oil and spark plug on a snow blower is a quick and easy process (even for me) and definitely not worth the $200+ fee.  Even more complicated repairs like changing an impeller or drive belt, or fixing rough idling is very doable at home.  Here are some of the costs for do it yourselfers.

Cost of Do-it-Yourself Snow Blower Maintenance

  • No pickup required;
  • 1 hr of time;
  • Cost of oil: $5/quart (approximately a liter);
  • Spark Plug: $5;
  • Carburetor spray cleaner: $8;
  • Lube/Grease: $10; and,
  • Degreaser: $10 (sometimes required to clean the friction wheel).

When I went out to buy supplies, I picked up a quart of oil (check your manual, 5w-30 for me), a new spark plug, some carburetor spray cleaner, spray lubricant, and a degreaser.  The total cost to my credit card was less than $45.  Not only is that a significant amount of savings (especially over the years), there is the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

The How To’s

Rather than typing out instructions, I’ll show you some of the videos that helped me perform my snow blower maintenance.  For me, I had to change the oil and spark plug, and clean out the carburetor bowl to help solve the rough idling problem.  I also included an extra video below on how to change an impeller or drive belt that I used to help my father fix his aging snow blower (cost of two belts $70 plus 1 hour of our time, small engine shop quoted us $250 + tax).

What do you think of “FT’s Small Engine Repair Shop” as my next venture?

Changing the Oil

Changing the Spark Plug

Cleaning the Carburetor Bowl

Changing an Impeller and/or Drive Belt





12 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Congrats on the DIY repair job! We don’t own a snowblower but sometimes I wish we did, especially this winter. I try to do minor maintenance work on our car when possible and have found a ton of great content on you tube. It saves a lot of money and as you mentioned there is the satisfaction of getting it done yourself

  2. 2. Jared

    While I live in Ottawa so get less snow than Newfoundland, we found that paying for a snow service was very reasonably priced when taking into account the full cost of ownership of a snowblower. This assumed you were getting a snowblower in the $1200 range, as you mentioned, and that you consider snowblowing a chore and not an activity that you want to do. Meaning that one of the benefits is freeing up your time to do more interesting things.

  3. @Jared, for the snow service, is it a one time seasonal payment or pay as you go?

  4. @FT, I also live in Ottawa and have only found one time seasonal payment options for snow removal service here. However, in smaller towns in Ontario, such as where my mother lives, pay as you go is definitely an option. Myself and my siblings all chip in money at the beginning of the year for Mom’s snow removal and the account is drawn down according to how many visits the removal service needs to make. Last year we actually had a surplus at the end of the year, which carried over. This year, I fear we may need to top up the account before spring finally arrives. It’s been a snowy winter in Ontario. More headed our way today I hear.

  5. 5. Goldberg

    WOW! Go Ottawa!

    I have a townhouse so I have a small driveway. I plow it by hand… I usually plow my neighbors’ driveway as well… not just to have a good relationship with my neighbors but its my gym. Dress warm and have the right attitude, its a fun 30 mins. My 3 yr old daughter trying to help is usually of great motivation for me…

  6. Snowblower? $20 shovel and my 17 year old kid work just fine thanks.

  7. 7. Evan

    Snowblowers are a bit of a luxury out here on the prairies. We don’t get a whole lot of snow at once, and whenever we do get snow, it’s usually very light and fluffy. I can usually clear our sidewalks, both neighbours and the small driveway in 10-20 mins.

  8. 8. saveddijon

    I’ll third comments #2 and #4.

    Appleseed Snowblowing is only $250-$300 per year, no matter how much snow you get or how often it snows unless it’s much worse than average. The only time I paid an overage charge was the 2008 winter when we got 11 feet for the winter, and that was only an extra $50.

    It’s not worth buying a snowblower especially considering that you get up in the morning, and…. IT’S DONE. When the city plow comes around and creates the windrow, within a couple of hours Appleseed’s tractor is back to munch away at it. DONE.

  9. 9. Jared

    @FT, @saveddijon

    We do a yearly fee for our clearance that is definitely in the range of what saveddijon mentioned. I agree having them clear away for you in the morning and then ensure the city dumped snow in the driveway is removed as well, it a great benefit. I have heard that you can call some places and do a one time clearance if you wanted. We had friends who called a place the day before they were coming back from down south to have their driveway cleared for them since we had a couple of snow falls while they were away.

    I have also seen a few of our neighbours run out and give the tractor driver some money to do their driveway right then.

    We shovel our walkway to the house and that is enough excitement for the 4 year old and exercise for us.

  10. 10. Chris

    I also live in the Ottawa area and the blower services have one big problem. This year again, there have been issues where the services don’t show anymore due to it not being profitable enough when there is too much snow. Good for all the users that didn’t run into this problem yet. It is a case of “do your research before paying”.
    Snow blower, don’t pay $1200 for a new one. Kijiji will sell you a good one for under $250. Add a fuel shut off valve into the line so that the carb doesn’t sit full of fuel when not in use, especially in the off season. Add an electric starter to it, so it starts easy, definitely worth it when below -15C. And the biggest thing, have spare drive belts. If it breaks in the peak season, one may be out of luck finding one…speaking from experience here.
    The next thing is, after the season, grease the machine and make sure the shear pins will work. Meaning that the impellers spin free when the pins are removed, test this again before the winter. I had an impeller rusted onto the driveshaft and when I hit a frozen newspaper in the driveway, the blower literally exploded on me. Not pretty.

  11. Good comment Chris. When i’m finished clearing the driveway, I normally shut off the fuel supply to let fuel in the carb burn off prior to storage.

    Another tip is to put fuel stabilizer in your gas can.

  12. 12. saveddijon

    Chris,

    Appleseed is the way to go, if they serve your area. Call them in August. Seriously. You’ll need to sign up in *AUGUST* otherwise you may not get a spot. They are that busy. Why? Because they are reliable, and their customers know it.

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