FALL / WINTER OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT PREPARATION
WRITTEN BY: LEAH JOHNSON
Chances are that if you’re out of middle school, winter in your eyes is less Magical Wonderland and more Freezing Wasteland. Slipping on the ice hurts a bit more when you have farther to fall, and frigid temps aren’t kind to achy joints. In the same way that you bundle up every time you brave the arctic tundra that your back yard has become, your power equipment needs some proper prepping too.
Good preparation can lead to an easy spring and an extended life for all of your tools, so it makes sense that improper maintenance and storage can lead to a frustrating spring and it can get very expensive very quickly. While some damage caused by the freezing temperatures can be fixed by a handyman with a general knowledge of mechanics, some of them are going to require an expert.
So unless your favorite pastime is rebuilding small engines, we recommend following a few easy steps to make your life a little easier.
Anything With a Gas Engine (leaf blowers, trimmers, chainsaws, etc.)
- Empty your gas tank or add a stabilizer — Gas left to sit can stiffen the plastic and rubber parts of the engine and draw moisture, which could cause rusting. It can also turn to varnish which is sticky and could leave a gummy substance in the system. Gas that has been sitting for a few months can make it hard to start the engine, causing it to stall and run rough.
- Service your engine — Change your spark plugs, fuel filter, and air filter and change the fluid and filter on your transmission.
- Service your engine and gas tank — see above
- Clean the deck — For best results you should be keeping your mower deck clean throughout the season, simply because they cut best when there isn’t a layer of dried grass in the way of the blades and the grass that’s getting cut. It’s especially important to clean it before Winter so the moisture from the grass doesn’t cause rusting.
- Get your blades sharpened — It’s also a good idea to give them a coat of oil to keep them from rusting.
- Disconnect your battery and spark plug.
- Store in a dry place — If it’s being stored on a concrete floor a tarp underneath can help keep the deck dry to prevent rust.
- See above for engine prep.
- Drain your pump — Ideally there shouldn’t be any water left in your pump. If it’s in your pump and ends up freezing it can cause a lot of damage to the internal parts.
- Use pump saver or anti-freeze — Running pump saver or anti-freeze through your pump is a good idea if there’s any chance of freezing temps where you live. It will give a little extra protection. (It’s also a good idea to use pump saver for extended storage, to prevent buildup from hardwater.)
- Make sure it is clean and dry before storing it — Making sure there is not grass or mud on the washer and storing it on a tarp can help reduce moisture and prevent rust.
- If you use your saw throughout the winter you’ll want to tune it up before you actually need it. Keep in mind that frozen wood is hard on chainsaws.
- Sharpen or replace the chain — You might also want to consider having extra chain on hand, just in case.
- Be sure to check your spark plug as well.
- Use a winter-blend fuel — If possible, it’s also helpful to store your saw in a temperature controlled area.
- Tune up your engine.
- Get extra shear pins — It’s a good idea to have a few extra shear pins on hand. It’s never fun if you have shear pin snap in the middle of the job, but it’s even less fun if you can’t finish it.
- Lubricate the drive and the chassis — make sure everything is moving smoothly.
- Make sure your tire chains are in good shape.
As a general rule it’s a good idea to check your owner’s manual in case there are any specific instructions for your unit, but if you follow those steps your power equipment will survive the winter. The ROP Shop has a wide selection of spark plugs, shear pins, tire chains, filters, pump saver, and blades. We’ll be happy to help if you aren’t sure what replacement you need for your unit so feel free to contact us. www.theropshop.com
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