Gasoline-powered garden gear isn’t guaranteed to start when it’s left idle for extended periods of time, say 30 days or more. A thorough cleaning is essential.
Don’t delay taking equipment to a dealer if you don’t have the time or inclination to do the work yourself, Ballou said. Not only will that extend its working life but it also will save you time and money.
Some steps you can take now to ensure your tools are ready when the weather warms up again:
Æ Change the oil and spark plugs in gasoline-powered equipment before storing it away.
Æ Dump leftover fuel into your vehicles. The shelf life for gasoline generally is 30 to 60 days. Run your equipment until all the old fuel is gone, and then add fresh along with some fuel stabilizer. Let that run five minutes or so, giving it enough time to cycle through the carburetor. That prevents sludge from forming and gumming up the fuel system.
Æ Disconnect the batteries. Every two months, put them on a charger and charge them back to full At that point, you’ve done what you need to ensure they’ll start again in the spring.
Here are some additional tips to ease seasonal garden chores:
Æ Buy an extra set of lawnmower blades and another chain for your chainsaw. That way you’ll always have one on hand while the dull blades are being balanced and sharpened.
Æ Clean or replace air filters to aid engine combustion.
Æ Store your equipment and fuel in a clean, dry place, said Randy Scully, national service manager for STIHL Inc., a manufacturer of chainsaws and other handheld equipment. That helps prevent rust and corrosion.
Æ Lubricate and tighten moving parts. That includes wheel bearings and throttle cables. Tillers, mowers, string-cutters and chainsaws take terrible beatings and tend to loosen over time. Anything that’s not quite right or broken, get it repaired. Clean away oil that’s dripped onto handles or working surfaces.
Æ Get to know your product instruction manual. It has complete listings of things in there about what should be checked and how often.