Winter is on its way and while people have the option of bundling up and sitting by the fire, your outdoor power equipment does not. Putting the equipment in a shed or garage is a great first step, but there are several other “to-do” items before placing them away for the winter. Owner’s manuals typically have more specific instructions, but here are some general guidelines:
Place the stop switch in the "OFF" position. Wipe down the equipment to remove dirt, plant material, and any collected grease. Generally speaking, this should be done after each use of the equipment. While wiping down the equipment, look for any loose screws or nuts and make sure they are tightened. Make sure the throttle operates freely and safety interlocks and guards are in place and functioning.
Take this time to sharpen and inspect blades. For chainsaws and hedge trimmers it is recommended to clean the chain or blade with a 50/50 mixture of kerosene and lightweight oil. Once clean, oil the blades or saw chain with bar and chain oil and wrap the chain or blades in a plastic bag for storage.
In a well-ventilated area completely drain the fuel tank into an approved fuel container. Once the fuel tank is drained, try starting the unit a number of times to run any additional fuel out of the carburetor. Using old gasoline in the spring can cause damage to the fuel system and engine. Old gasoline will begin to go stale and turn to varnish in as little as 30 days.
Take care of any engines by inspecting or replacing the spark plugs. Before installing the spark plug add ¼ oz of oil into the engine head. Place a clean cloth over the spark plug hole and slowly pull the starter handle 2-3 times to distribute the oil inside the cylinder. Then install and tighten the sparkplug.
Spray and wipe down any hinges and moving parts with lubricant so they do not rust and stick in place.
In a well-ventilated area, completely drain the fuel tanks of equipment, such as this trimmer.
While performing the winterizing procedures, look for any worn out or old parts. Key items to look for are missing nuts, screws, or bolts that can easily be replaced. Inspect the gas cap for any missing or damaged O-rings that seal the fuel tank from absorbing moisture or dirt. Inspect fuel filters as well; this may be something the owner’s manual covers more in depth but a dirty fuel filter makes the engine work harder to pull the gasoline. Spark plugs are crucial pieces of the engine and from time to time need to be replaced. For smaller pieces like this, a good rule of thumb is if it looks questionable, go ahead and replace it.
Following these guidelines will make sure that lawn and power equipment is properly stored for winter and will make for less time getting them ready in the spring.
If there are any questions regarding the proper steps needed to replace or repair the equipment, consult your owner’s manual.
By Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Wholesale Tree Growers
Photographs courtesy of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.
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