GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many are firing up their snowblowers to clean out their sidewalks and driveways as we get a break from the snow for a couple days.
Meanwhile, repair shops around West Michigan are trying to keep up with those that found a few issues along the way.
A long line at Rylee’s Ace Hardware Repair Shop on Michigan Street Wednesday in Grand Rapids is an indicator that some snowblowers have been stopped dead in their snowy tracks.
“It will work for about 20 feet, and then it will get clogged,” said Eugene Shatz of Greenville, as he brought in a unit for repair.
“We probably have a foot on the ground, nearly 15 inches,” said Shatz.
His snowblower died in the middle of West Michigan’s last snowstorm.
“Considering my driveway is 120 feet long, very frustrating,” said Shatz.
Bob Firlit of Grand Rapids bought a snowblower as a present for his daughter, but it didn’t make the cut.
“It’s just not enough power, it bogs down,” said Firlit.
Terry Sytsma is a manager at Rylee’s Ace Hardware.
He explained some of the more common problems they see when they look at what’s happening with malfunctioning snowblowers.
Sytsma said one of the top issues is problems with fuel.
“Our fuel only lasts 30 days now and tends to attract a lot of water,” said Sytsma.
He said it’s wise to only keep a 30 day supply of fuel on hand.
Also, you should keep any fuel containers sealed so water can’t get into the machine.
If water gets in the carburetor, he said it won’t be able to burn the fuel, and therefore won’t start the engine.
If that happens, the carburetor may have to be drained along with the fuel tank.
Another common issue they see in the repair shop, worn belts.
“They will begin to fray and we call it glaze and it’s shiny and they tend to slip,” said Terry.
A worn-out scraper and paddle can also prevent the machine from throwing snow.
Another problem, worn skids.
Terry said skids keep the frame of the snowblower off the ground.
If the frame is sitting on the ground, the equipment won’t work properly.
“You see this one, it is completely worn off,” said Terry, pointing to a square piece of metal that was ground down to the frame.
Pull cords are also a problem item when they deteriorate and break.
“Usually break the cord,” said Bob Firlit. “Last snow blower she had, same thing, always pulling the cord.”
Shatz said he’s thankful the repair shop is so conveniently located near his workplace in Grand Rapids.
He said equipment repair goes hand and hand with the West Michigan winter experience.
Repair shop employees said the best time to take in your snowblower for a tune up is September or October.
However, if you’ve waited until the snow flies, they will still get you in for service.