Proper Winterization for Power Equipment

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When it comes to storing a piece of power equipment, folks are always asking us what is the proper way to do so. Over the years, there have been a lot of changes in the industry. The primary change is something none of us have control over which is the gasoline we buy. In nearly every gas station, the product we purchase contains ethanol. Ethanol as we have heard of, is a man made grain alcohol that is blended into fuels for various reasons. Now, rather than get into a debate on this being good or bad for the economy or environment, let’s focus on why it is bad for small engines. The number one reason this is not good is the simple fact that ethanol has acids in it which corrode metal fuel system parts as well as break down rubber components. Neither of these things are good. In order to have a machine that will start in the Spring, you must first start with fresh fuel. I will be conservative and say that 90 percent of all small engine repairs we do, start with fresh fuel.

When getting ready to store power equipment for the winter, there are a number of ways to do it. On certain pieces of equipment, the easiest thing to do is to empty the fuel tank and carburetor of all traces of fuel. We suggest on handheld equipment such as blowers, chainsaws, string-trimmers, and others to simply dump the fuel from the machines tank back into your dispensing can the fuel came from. If the piece of equipment is equipped with a primer bulb, push it several times to pump all remaining gasoline out of the carburetor. After doing so, leave the fuel cap off for several days to allow the fuel system to air dry. When it comes time to use the machine again, simply fill it with fresh fuel and you will be ready to go.

Other machines such as lawn mowers are not as easy to drain. The simplest way to get the fuel out of these is to simply run the machine until it runs out of gasoline. After the machine runs dry, it’s a good idea to choke or prime the engine again, and pull the starter several times to ensure that as much fuel as possible is out of the system. Again, I like to leave the fuel cap off to allow all the remaining traces of fuel to evaporate.

Many people ask about fuel stabilizers and which one to buy. I neither endorse or oppose any such product. In fact, we sell several. What has never been proven to me is if any of these products actually work. I have seen many fuel related problems even when stabilizers were used. There is no substitute for fresh gas, and I don’t believe there ever will be as long as ethanol remains in our fuel blends. Remember, gasoline is an organic compound and will begin to go bad in as little as 30 days. Buy small quantities of fuel you can use in this time period. If you still have gasoline after 30 days, put it in your car to get rid of it. Never dump your fuel on the ground or down the drain.

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Some other things to consider when winterizing your power equipment are to clean or replace your air filter, spark plug, and on 4-stroke engines, go ahead and change that oil. Be sure to check your owners manual for the proper oil, but as a safe rule, most small engines use straight 30 weight oil (SAE 30). Blade sharpening can be done at this time as well on mowers.

Here at Stone Brothers and Byrd, we can take care of all of this in house. Give me a call and I will be happy to talk with you.

Steve Rose at 919-682-1311 or steve@stonebrothers.com

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