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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Protect Outdoor Equipment for Winter Storage

(image © St-aBil)

For winter storage, it’s important to protect gas-fired outdoor power equipment by prepping the fuel systems of the engines.

One common method to protect the engine is to drain the fuel tank and carburetor prior to winter storage. However, the fuel system should still be addressed, because alcohol-blended fuels can attract moisture, which leads to separation and formation of acids during storage. Acidic gas damages the fuel system of an engine, and moisture can trigger corrosion in the tank, fuel lines, carburetor and cylinders

This applies to lawnmowers, chainsaws, weed trimmers, blowers, and other gas-powered equipment. The problems are due in part because it is difficult to get every drop of fuel out of the system, and when oxygen reacts with the remaining fuel, it can create a gummy residue that clogs parts of the carburetor. A clogged carburetor prevents the engine from starting and will require cleaning the carburetor or further maintenance. Fuel system plastics and rubbers are designed to live in fuel, and these components can become brittle and crack when exposed to air.

To avoid damage, use a quality fuel stabilizer and fresh fuel before storing equipment for the season. (Adding fuel stabilizer to old fuel will stop further degradation, but the fuel may already have broken down because gas lasts only a couple of months before going bad). To store for winter, fill the tank 95 percent full with fresh, stabilized fuel, leaving room to prevent the fuel from expanding and spilling as the weather warms.

After adding the stabilizer, run the engine for a few minutes to circulate the fuel into the carburetor and fuel lines.

Clean engine often to keep gunk from accumulating and reduce corrosion. A clogged engine runs hotter and shortens engine life, but avoid using a garden hose because water in the engine can shorten engine life.

Replace the air filter every season (and more frequently under dusty conditions. To clean the filter, remove its cover, carefully remove the cartridge, and gently tap it on a flat surface.

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