How to get the Sunday paper out of your snow blower

I’m interrupting the novelist stuff to share a practical tip today, because I couldn’t find the answer on Google myself. So I called the guy who tunes up my two-stage snow blower, and he told me what to do, because he knew today was a rare break in the frigid temps and he couldn’t get here. (Thank you, Lawnmower Guy!)

Has this ever happened to you?

newspaper-jammed snow blower auger

The Sunday Times Union and its wrapper, intimately involved with my snow blower’s auger.

First, a disclaimer: I am not a licensed expert and make no claims to be. This just worked for me. Do any of this at your own risk.

  1. It has just snowed, which means it’s cold and wet out, so put the clogged snow blower away and finish your job another way.
  2. Unless you have a heated garage at your disposal (lucky you), wait for the next warm, dry day (20’s and sunny counts as warm where I live) and put your snow blower in the sun (and in a dry spot) to thaw a bit.
  3. Make sure it is OFF. Completely off. And has been for a while. If you want to be extra sure, take the wire off the spark plug. I couldn’t find my spark plug, but I was assured that the auger wasn’t going to suddenly come to life and take my hand off as long as the machine was indeed fully off. (If it’s an electric machine, obviously UNPLUG it or remove its batteries.)
  4. If you can, lift the machine off the ground a bit. I used two bricks to support mine. If there isn’t any gas in it, you can turn it on its side. But of course there probably is gas in it — you were using it before you ran over the paper, weren’t you?
  5. If it’s not thawing fast enough, set your hair blow dryer on low and aim it at the clog. (Obviously, don’t do this if there is any question of the dryer or its cord getting WET.)
  6. Just start peeling away layer by layer, piece by piece.
  7. After about five or ten minutes of this, the remains of even the thickest Sunday paper will drop out with in a big, satisfying clump. You might even be able to rescue a few coupons, if you’re into that. (I’m not that into that.)
    Snow blower cleaned out.

    Yay, all done! It took me less than ten minutes. Note the purple blow dryer at the bottom, and the sheer pins in the middle of each of the blades’ axles. Also, note the bricks.


  8. Check to see if the shear pins have broken. If so, replace them, because that side of the machine will not function without them. (Everyone who owns a machine should know how to do this — keep spare shear pins on hand. Usually there’s a compartment on your snow blower to hold these for you.)
  9. Start it up again, run it enough to make sure it’s okay, and then put it away.
  10. Hoorah! You’re ready for the next snow. Which in my case is tomorrow.

From now on, I’ll do the front walk by hand, at least until I’m certain there’s not a newspaper under the snow.

By the way, the other great hazard for snow blowers, according to my lawnmower guy, is rubber doormats. I’ve also seen garden hoses mentioned online. So it might be worth making sure both of those are safely out of range before the snow starts.

The other big tip? Don’t let old gas sit in your snow blower for too long. Use fresh gas you’ve treated with STA-BIL® Fuel Stabilizer (or some other additive) to run it. (Put old gas in your car — it can handle it.) STA-BIL® and others like it keep the ethanol that is now part of our gasoline supply from doing bad things to your small engine, especially in the off-season. This is true of lawn mowers as well.

Yes, someday we’ll need those again. There will be grass. Have faith!