Winter is setting in for much of the country and many of us are putting away mowers, string trimmers, and leaf blowers until spring. How do you ensure that your equipment is going to fire right back up in a few months? Here are 8 simple winter maintenance steps you can take to preserve the life of your machine and its integral parts.
What to do with lawnmower fuel?
There are many opinions on this subject, but a general consensus is centered around adding fuel stabilizer to a tank of gas before putting the machine away for the winter. You can drain the remaining fuel in your mower and put in fresh gas with stabilizer mixed in, or simply add a bottle of stabilizer to the leftover gas.
Fuel stabilizer keeps the gas from breaking down and creating gum or varnish.
Many also include a rust inhibitor and help keep carburetors, fuel injectors,
and the fuel line clean.
Check for worn parts
There are some common parts that see the most wear on your power equipment. Upon inspecting your equipment prior to storage, you may notice missing screws or nuts; make note of these and replace before spring.
Another important piece is the o-ring that helps seal the gas tank and prevent dust or moisture from entering. These are on the underside of your gas cap, and if yours are worn or cracked, it’s time to replace them before storing.
Change the fuel filter
This Old House has a great tip for cleaning your fuel filter: they recommend using a 6” length of metal coat hanger, then reaching it into the gas tank to snag the fuel line. You’ll see the filter dangling from the end of the fuel line, and you can pull it off and install a new one.
Clean spark plugs
Spark plugs are a key part of any gas-powered machine, and they get dirty as you use them. You can remove them with a socket wrench and either clean it with brake cleaner or replace them. Your owner’s manual should tell you which model of plug to use.
Drain excess oil
Oil leftover in the tank can turn into sludge and gunk. Your engine will then run less efficiently and with less overall performance. Be sure to drain your oil into a catch pan and dispose of it at a waste facility or recycling center.
It sounds simple, but your machine should be clean when you put it away for the winter. Dirt and other debris can keep moisture against the metal and cause rust. If you have rust beginning to develop, some can be scraped off and the surface sprayed with rust inhibitor.
Inspect the air filter
A dirty air filter makes your equipment heat up and run harder than it should. An air filter can either be cleaned or replaced depending on its condition.
Lubricate moving parts
Parts that move work best with as little friction as possible, so lubricating these hinges and moving pieces is key to extending their life.