A snow blower comes in handy when deep snow traps you in your home -- until it jams up with packed snow or other debris. More often than not, you can quickly put the snow blower back to work after removing the jam, but you must follow some basic safety guidelines. Turn off the snow blower immediately to avoid damaging the equipment, and don't wade in with your bare hands to clear the jam or you could risk serious injury.
Blocked Output Chute
A jammed snow blower may continue to run but not throw snow from the output chute. If this happens, turn the snow blower off immediately and disconnect the spark plug. Use the handle of a shovel or rake to break up accumulated ice and packed snow from the chute. An output chute will jam if you push the snow blower too fast or if the snow is particularly slushy. To prevent this type of jam, slow down so snow blower only takes in as much snow as the impeller can move to the chute. Don't use a snow blower on wet, slushy snow or it will continue to jam.
A snow blower's auger will jam with ice if you are trying to blow snow that is too wet, or if you are moving too fast for the turning blades to keep up. Turn off the snow blower and disconnect the spark plug to make sure that the engine does not start accidentally while you're working on it. Use a shovel to break up the packed snow and ice around the auger blades. Never use your hands to clear the auger blades, even after you disconnect the spark plug. Once you have cleared the packed snow and ice around the blades, reconnect the spark plug.
You might run over a newspaper, small tree branch or even a child's toy in your driveway when using a snow blower. If your snow blower is jammed by a newspaper, turn off the machine and disconnect the spark plug. Use warm, soapy water to soften the newspaper and then use a long-handled tool, such as a rake handle, to remove the soft newspaper. Remove rugs and mats that get wrapped around the auger blades by cutting them away with long-handled shears. You can remove a small toy or a stone that becomes lodged in the blades by using a shovel handle or rake handle to pry it out.
One of the more serious problems you may find in a jammed snow blower is broken shear pins. The shear pins are small bolts that hold the impeller and auger in place. They are designed to break when a jam occurs to prevent the engine from burning out. Turn off the snow blower and disconnect the spark plug. Clear the packed snow and ice using a the handle of a shovel or rake -- never use your hands. Remove the auger belt and the pulley. Take out the bolts and then the bearings. Slide the auger toward one side of the housing and remove the broken shear pins. Replace them, reassemble the auger and reconnect the spark plug.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.