Winterizing and Maintaining
Gas Powered Equip
The winterization or preparation for long term non use of gas powered equipment is often overlooked. This oversight, along with poor maintenance, can unfortunately be costly and very frustrating. Believing that new equipment will continue to perform well for a year without care can lead to a nasty surprise for many people.
Small engine repair shops do a good business fixing equipment that should not have needed repair if the owner had read and followed the manuals instructions and taken care of their gas powered equipment. It may be a shock to learn the malfunctioning equipment, still in warranty, is not covered by the warranty because of improper care.
The most common error is leaving fuel in the equipment. Fuel should be drained or stabilized. I highly recommend draining. The current 10% ethanol containing fuels partially evaporate fairly quickly leaving behind either a gummy deposit or a thin film of very hard varnish. You would never think of putting a coat of varnish on the delicate parts of the carburetor but that is what happens. These deposits will clog the carburetor and fuel system over time. This can also happen during the summer if the equipment is not used…typically 1-3 months. This one oversight is the #1 reason why chainsaws and generators fail to work.
Drain the fuel
You need to drain the tank and carburetor completely of fuel then let them dry out. First run the piece of equipment for a few minutes to warm up. Turn off the fuel to the carburetor or drain the tank, start the equipment again and run it until it stops from lack of fuel. If not already done, drain the fuel tank. You can safely use the drained fuel in your vehicle. Drain all two-cycle engines as well. Hopefully you know this but you can tell you have a two-cycle engine if you are supposed to add oil to the fuel. Do not use this fuel in your car. Because it does not store well, safely dispose of the fuel or use it in your chain saw, etc.
Add fuel stabilizer
It is highly recommended never to use gasoline containing ethanol in your small engines. Even a 10% blend of ethanol can ruin them however we are stuck here in Houston because it is law that all fuel contain ethanol. The closest non-ethanol fuel can only be obtained 100 miles outside of Houston. The mixture of ethanol/fuel attracts moisture into the gasoline. If gas has to be stored then you have to add a fuel stabilizer. Read the can for information for the maximum storage time.
Either replace or clean the air filter. If it is a dry filter (usually paper type) blow it out with compressed air. If it is an oil type (a foam pad) you can wash it out with soapy water. Rinse it well, let it dry and then moisten with a bit of 30 weight oil.
Change the spark plug
If the engine has had a significant amount of use you may want to replace the spark plug. If use has been light, use a piece of fine grain sandpaper to lightly burnish the gap, use a feeler gauge to check the gap distance and use some gasoline and a wire brush to clean the plug.
Clean the outside of the machine
Used compressed air to remove all the debris from the outside of the equipment. Wipe off any fuel or residue – some alcohol on a rag can help dissolve the gunk. Some, like me, have used a garden hose to wash everything off on a sunny day. Turn the generator on its side to drain and the leave in the sun for several hours until the metal has warmed up enough to dry all the nooks and crannies.
Your owner’s manual will help you with all of the above process. If you do not have your manual, check on the Internet. If you properly maintain and winterize your gas powered equipment it will run the next time you need it which might just be for a disaster.
That concludes tonight’s training. Are there any questions, comments or suggested additions to this material?
Thanks, this is (callsign) clear to net control.