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Winterizing Power Equipment

Winter and that white flakey "stuff" is fast approaching. Be prepared.

One of the most important steps in winterizing power equipment is to begin with a thorough service-maintenance tune up.
Start and warm up the engine for at least 5 minutes. Drain the oil while it is still hot and has any settlements mixed up and suspended to assure all is removed. Refill with a major brand of the correct oil viscosity for when you'll be putting the engine back into service. Clean and service or replace the air filter, replace the spark plug, sharpen the blade and clean up the mower. Apply a WD-40 type product to control cables, wheel bushings and nuts and bolts. All the routine maintenace that should be done after every 25 hours of operating time or twice per year.

For more on routine maintenance see my pages on maintenance and blade sharpening. You can find links to them from my Front Page.

The most important part of winterizing equipment is caring for the fuel system. I know for many it's hard to accept that fuel can turn on you so fast. It was for me for some time also. Those of us who grew up with the factory made asphalt shredding muscle cars of the 60's sometimes like to hold on to old ideas. Todays fuel is no longer gasoline but "Designer Motor Fuel". It's intention is to enhance cleaner burning engines and as such is formulated with properties which are very unstable and begin to turn into something else very quickly. The industry standard is that 30 days old is, history. Buying just enough to get you through 30 day periods is doable, but what to do when it comes to winter lay overs? There are two ways to avoid the problems caused by the varnishing effect of stale fuel.

The first option for fuel system winterization is my personal preference.

Option # 1; Start off by making sure the fuel in the tank is new. Purchase a fuel stabilizer available at mower or auto parts stores and add the correct amount for your equiments fuel tank size. Top off the tank with new fuel and start the engine. Let it run for 5 minutes to assure the stabilzed fuel has reached all parts of the carb and fuel system.

Next time the equipment is needed, drain the stabilized fuel and refill with new fuel again. The purpose is this. The stabilized fuel will prevent the fuel from varishing the carb and valves but the fuel will still loose much of its potency and may be hard to start.
The advantage of this method of fuel system protection is you'll prevent water condensation in the fuel tank with a full tank of fuel.

Option # 2; This option is to simply run the engine out of fuel. If the carb has a float bowl you need to remove the bowl nut and allow the left over to drain. This option has its draw backs. There is always some fuel left but in its reduced quantity not as likely to cause problems. Also with no fuel in the tank there is the risk of air borne moisture condensation in the tank. If you live in a dry climate this is less of a concern. In any case, this second option is far better than doing nothing.

Next in the winterization process is remove the spark plug and place 1 tablespoon of 30wt oil in the cylinder. For small 2 cycle engines back this off to 1 teaspoon of 30wt oil. Pull the starter slowly a couple of times and re-install the spark plug.

That's about it. Find a safe out of the way place to store your equipment where it won't be in the way or used as a step ladder, and inside the garage or shed if possible to keep the weather off of it.

The Lawn Mower Repair Man
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