Snow blower protection: Avoid damaging mistakes

Ruth to the Rescue: Snow blower mistakes to avoid this winter

By Tony Statz - Producer
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After the recent mild winters we've seen in Metro-Detroit, local snow blowers are much, much busier in 2014.

January officially became the snowiest month ever, so you've probably been cleaning your sidewalks and driveways again and again and again. Local professionals say many people are making some common mistakes with their snow blowers, and that means they need snow blower repairs.

"We've definitely been backlogged with snow blowers. We turn them around as quickly as we can for the customers," said Paul Holloway, owner of Livonia Small Engine Repair.

He's seen about 60 to 100 broken snow blowers each week this season.

The most common mistake he sees deal with old fuel. By now, many of you may have already made that mistake, but he has a tip that can help you avoid that problem.

"The number one, most important thing is the 30 day rule with fuel. There's a lot of higher ethanol content in fuel nowadays, and its creating moisture which freezes up in these units," Holloway told Ruth to the Rescue.

This mistake is most likely to come during that first snow, when you grab a fuel mixture from last winter, fill up your tank, and realize there's trouble.

Holloway says the standard fuel flush at his shop costs from $20 to $40. He also advises that you make sure you have the right fuel mixture for each machine. The proper combination should be written on the gas cap on each snow blower.

Holloway also urges people to use up any fuel in the machine toward the end of the season. He says you should not leave fuel in the tank until next winter for all the same reasons. Instead, he says fill up your tank sparingly, use what you need, and refill as needed. If you leave fuel in the snow blower that breaks down, you could be visiting his shop in Livonia.

Beware Debris and Don't Overdo!

Holloway and his employees also see the results of two other commons mistake. He says many people start plowing their snow and don't realize what lies beneath the flakes.

"Another one of the big issues we've been seeing a lot of is the newspaper that gets left at the end of the driveway, buried underneath the snow. You're going along, they next thing you know you've got an auger and belt issue," warned Paul Holloway, owner of Livonia Small Engine Repair.

With the heavy snowfall we've seen this year, other folks are making the mistake of trying to clear too much snow at one time. Holloway says most standard, household machines are built to handle just two to four inches of snow.

"The best recommendation is, obviously, to attempt to try to do it in stages. You know when you get a fresh dusting, you know the first two to four inches, get out there try to give it a good pass then come back in. Unfortunately, you're doing the job twice, but is the best for the unit," said Holloway.

If you care for your snow blower, it will take care of you!

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