Getting your snow blower ready for the upcoming winter

Posted at: 11/14/2012 6:31 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2012 7:18 PM
By: Ray Levato

It isn't quite winter yet, but we all know that snow is coming sooner or later. And if you have a snow blower and didn't use it much last winter, or maybe not at all , you may have problems.

This turns out to be a question about ethanol. Ethanol is made from corn. When added to gasoline at the pump, it was supposed to help make America more energy independent. But News10NBC has heard that food prices are up because there's a shortage of corn for animal feed. And now, News10NBC has learned ethanol is not good for your small engines.

Can't get that snowblower started? The problem could be a clogged carburetor or water in the gas tank.

Mandel Green, owns snow blower, said, “They say I have water in the gas and I was trying to find out. I don't have water. I guess the ethanol in the gas breaks up.”

Mandel Green owns a snow blower. At times, he wishes he didn't.

Green said, “I have done that a couple times with my lawn mower and my snow blower. I guess what happens is it clogs up the carburetor. And every time I bring it out for that particular season, I always have to take it to the shop because they say I have water in the gas.”

News10NBC asked Dave Aurand, owner of Wilson Hardware on Monroe Avenue, to explain the ethanol problem.

Dave Aurand, Wilson Hardware, said, “We've got a small engine carburetor here and what we like to see when we take them apart is a nice clean bowl. This is the part that holds the gasoline. This one when we pulled it apart had a little bit of gasoline, and half of it is full of water. So one of the issues we see with gasoline today with ethanol is that it attracts moisture. So we're getting water into our gas. Engines can't run on water.”

Auto mechanic Paul Marone says most gasoline has contained 10 percent ethanol for years.

Paul Marone, East Ave. Auto, said, “Cars are built to handle it. We haven't trouble with cars much at all. But the small engines, the older ones are getting into trouble with this where the owner left the fuel in the carburetor and it sort of corrodes away some of the jets or plugs it up. And then you have to take it apart and clean it to get it to work again.”

Last winter was so mild people may still have gas left over in their snow blowers. Paul Marone of East Avenue Auto says the secret is to drain the small engine out as you shut it down for the season. Most of them have a small valve underneath the fuel tank to turn the fuel off , then run the carburetor dry.

A handful of stations sell non-ethanol gas. Wilson Hardware sells a version of non-ethanol for small engines. It's expensive, $7.99 a quart. But they say it's catching on and cheaper than a carburetor repair.