Summertime and warm weather has drawn to a close, so your outdoor power equipment needs have changed with the fall season. That means out with summer equipment, and in with cold-weather replacements. So, here’s what you should do to prepare your small engine equipment for storage.
First, and most importantly, you will need to empty all fuel from your four-cycle and two-cycle equipment. Most gasoline contains a substantial amount of ethanol, which breaks down over time and loosens deposits that have formed inside the engine. This causes gum-like material to move around inside the fuel system, which can clog the carburetor and other small openings. While draining your gas tank may seem like a time-consuming task, it’s actually very simple and can save you a lot of time and maintenance costs down the road.
At the end of each mowing season, start by filling your fuel tank with just enough gas to run your engine for one last mow, trim, or tilling task. Once you’ve finished perfecting your lawn, let the engine run until it stalls out and there is no longer any gas in the tank. Next, try to start the engine again to rid of any fuel that may not have escaped during the previous run (Note: For two-cycle engines, always make sure you’ve mixed the correct ratio of oil and gas before performing this step).
If you have trouble completely draining your tank or prefer to keep your small engine equipment stocked with gas, you can choose to use a fuel stabilizer. After following the previous steps to drain as much fuel as possible, refer to the instructions on your package of stabilizer and add the correct amount, followed by a full tank of fresh, high-octane gas. Run your mower (or other small engine equipment) for a few minutes to circulate the mixture throughout the carburetor, then turn the machine off. This process allows you to store a gas-filled tank for up to six months, and should let you easily start your mower after pulling it out of storage in the spring.
Spark plugs should ideally be replaced after 100 hours of use, so the end of summer is a great time to perform a routine inspection on your small engine equipment. Using a spark plug wrench, carefully turn the metal base so as not to break the plug. Once you remove the spark plug, put a few drops of oil into the open cylinder, then gently start the engine a few times to coat the cylinder walls and valves (this will help to prevent rust from forming). Taking note of the part number on the existing spark plug, replace the used plug with a new one that has the same part number (spark plugs vary greatly among different machines).
Oil & Filters
Changing the oil and oil filters keeps moving parts lubricated and removes particles from the engine, increasing its lifespan of your small engine equipment. Cleaning or replacing air filters will also help keep grass and other foreign elements out of the engine, increasing power and fuel efficiency. While paper filters should be replaced after use, foam filters can easily be washed with hot water and dish detergent, squeezed and laid out to dry, then coated in oil before they are re-inserted.
All those months of outdoor use almost ensure that you’ll end up with a little dirt on your small engine equipment. Lawn mowers are especially-guilty culprits, considering the large amounts of grass that tend to clump up underneath the mowing deck and inside the bag. To get rid of stubborn grass, start the mower engine, engage the blade, then spray water in front of the rear wheels (make sure you’re standing behind the mower so you stay clean and dry). When you see nothing but clear water come out from under the mower, the deck should be clean (Note: make sure the mower is completely dry before storing, and never spray water directly into the engine).
Now’s the time to give your small engine equipment one last inspection before stowing it away for the winter. Remember: no detail is too small when it comes to the care of your outdoor power equipment. Sharpen or replace dull mower blades, clean battery terminals, tighten screws, and check for worn belts, tires, and wheels. If you have a string trimmer, be sure to clean and rewind the string head, as well as sharpen the string-cutting blade on the debris deflector. Sharpen your chainsaws, as well, and be sure to have extra chain on hand for those cold, winter work days when hidden obstacles may cause damage to your saw (Note: As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to have spare parts on hand for those that are most often in need of replacement).
Be sure to store your small engine equipment somewhere clean and dry—ideally, a garage or shed that offers protection from rain, snow, and other winter elements. For additional protection, consider covering your mower with a tarp to block out possible moisture. Moth balls also help protect against pests that could nest inside the engine, while removing the battery and storing it in a warm, indoor location could help extend performance life.
By taking care of cleaning and maintenance tasks before the winter season, you can build a regular routine that will help you greatly extend the life of your small engine equipment. From fuel to filters, blades to belts—your small engine equipment will thank you for the effort you put in, saving you a substantial amount of work in the spring.
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Weingartz, family owned and operated, began in 1945 as a farm supply store for local Michigan families. In the 1970s, we began to focus exclusively on outdoor power equipment. Over time, we morphed into the “power equipment superstore” that now defines all of our locations. The staff and experts at Weingartz work diligently to provide the best service possible and give honest and helpful advice to each and every customer.
Weingartz also sells parts for all outdoor power equipment at https://weingartz.com/parts-lookup.
5436 Jackson Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
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