Leaving your equipment in storage can lead to several large consequences — expensive ones, too. Sharp drops in temperature can take a negative toll on your equipment, causing rust and oxidation.
Make It a Priority to Prepare Your Equipment
Internal engine erosion and deterioration is the biggest risk involved with not preparing your gas-powered outdoor equipment for the winter. The first step of winterization is recognizing what kind of engine you have because the processes may differ.
Here are some examples of how to winterize different pieces of equipment.
Gas-Powered Four-Stroke Equipment
It is more than likely that your walk-behind mower falls into this category. The first step in winterizing your mower is an end-of-season oil change. If your mower has a two-stroke engine, ignore this step. Next, use a leaf blower to rid the mower of dirt and debris. To prevent gum deposits from developing and causing engine problems, you can run the gas tank dry until the mower quits. Keep this tank empty during winter.
Another way to prevent this is to add a fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas before running the engine for a few minutes. Regardless of which option you choose, keep a can of fogging oil nearby to spray into the open carburetor as the engine runs to protect the cylinder walls. Next, remove the spark plug wire before tipping the mower and scraping off any dried grass from your last landscaping project. Lastly, look at the blade and determine if it’s necessary to replace or sharpen it to prepare for next spring.
Riding Lawn Tractors
Because these tractors have four-stroke engines, follow the steps that are stated above. However, there are a few other steps that need to be taken to protect your equipment during the winter. Riding mowers typically have an oil filter which should be replaced during the oil change. Next, connect a trickle charger or remove the battery and keep it inside for periodic charging during the winter months. Lastly, check the tire pressure and add air as needed and inspect all drive belts and replace any with cracks.
Gas-Powered Two-Stroke Equipment
The process of preparing your two-stroke equipment for the colder months is similar to the process of winterizing four-stroke equipment. First, you will want to take your equipment to a well-ventilated area before cleaning any gunk or debris from the gas cap area. Then, empty the gas tank or let the equipment run on idle until the gas runs dry. Next, you’ll want to spray fogging oil into the open carburetor as the engine runs. Turn off the equipment and give it a good inspection to determine if you need to fix or replace any parts. Then, you can store your equipment in a clean, dry area.
Most tillers have four-stroke engines as well, so complete an oil change and fogging first. Then, inspect the belts and replace any with cracks. The last step is to remove the dirt around the tines.
Pressure washers usually have four-stroke engines, so follow the same steps for an oil change. Then, run the engine dry of gas or add fuel stabilizer while spraying fogging oil on the engine. If the temperature is expected to drop below freezing in your area, use a hose and funnel to pour non-toxic plumbing antifreeze into the pump. Turn the engine over until the antifreeze comes out of the pump outlet.
String trimmers usually have two-stroke engines, so there is no need for an oil change. First, remove the air filter and fog the engine as you are running it dry of gas or adding fuel stabilizer to a tank full of gas. Replace the air filter, blow off all debris and then replace the supply of string.
Follow the same winterizing procedure as the string trimmer for the engine. Top off the chain oil reservoir and determine if the chain needs to be sharpened or replaced. Then, slip a chain guard over the bar before placing your equipment in a cool, dry place.
The winterization process for leaf blowers is quite simple. Run the gas tank dry or add fuel stabilizer to a full tank and run the engine for a few minutes. This ensures that the treated gas reaches the carburetor. The last step is to fog the engine before storing your leaf blower in a dry place.
Plug-In Electric and Battery-Powered Equipment
Electric outdoor equipment is much easier to winterize than gas-powered equipment. However, it is still necessary to take these steps to properly prepare your equipment for the spring. Examine the power cords for unsafe nicks or cuts, and either fix or replace them. Use a leaf blower or a vacuum to clean all dust and debris off your equipment before wiping it down with a cloth. Although most of today’s tool batteries can stand cold temperatures, bring them into a heated space to charge them fully before storing in a covered, dry location.
Using Construction Equipment During Winter
Low temperatures can have a negative impact on a machine’s traction, tire pressure, oil, and more.
- Oil and lubrication: Because cold temperatures can reduce oil’s normal flow, proper lubrication is crucial to the machine’s regular operation. Before use, ensure that fluid levels are correct for engine oil, hydraulic and transmission fluids, and final drive lubricants. Be sure to check your equipment manual to determine if multi-viscosity lubrication can be used to optimize its performance in the winter.
- Engine: Make sure to keep your equipment inside or get a block heater to warm up your engine before you start it up.
- Batteries: Pay attention to your batteries to make sure they aren’t frozen or discharged. Consider storing them in a warmer setting when they’re not being used.
- Tires and tracks: Paying attention to tracks and tires is crucial as well. Every 10-degree drop in temperature equates to a tire reduction of 1 PSI. Inspect tracks for a buildup of snow, mud, and ice to avoid equipment malfunction or failure.
- Exterior: Salted roads can corrode the components and paint on your equipment. When you are finished using your equipment for the day, be sure to rinse dirt and salt off the machine.
- Rest: Most importantly, make sure you and your team are getting plenty of rest. Working in cold temperatures leads to quicker exhaustion, so schedule breaks to regain energy. Operating machinery can be a dangerous job, making rest crucial for proper focus and concentration.
What Happens If You Don't Winterize Your Equipment?
Cold weather can take a toll on even the most durable machines. When the temperature drops, moisture in the air can condense and cause damage and corrosion on metal surfaces. This can harm the metal parts of your equipment, making it a challenge to operate and requiring expensive repairs. Corrosion can also cause your equipment to break down prematurely.
If the temperature drops low enough, your hose, batteries, and wires are susceptible to freezing. If your batteries freeze, they won’t function and will slow down your business. Frozen batteries also present an explosion hazard. If you don’t take the necessary steps by allowing your equipment time to warm up or properly storing it, it can be ruined, your project could be slowed down, and you may face equipment repair or even replacement expenses.
Let Leppo Rents Help Prepare Your Equipment for Winter
The upfront costs of proper winterization are small compared to the costs of repairing or replacing your equipment due to neglect in the winter months. Not only does winterizing your equipment save you time and money, but it also ensures your, and your equipment’s, best performance in the spring so you can tackle all your projects safely with reliable equipment.
Reach out to Leppo Rents for solutions and with any questions regarding the winterization of your equipment. Our team of experts are available to assist you with valuable advice and give you the tools needed to keep your equipment in great condition.