Autumn is a busy time for lawn and garden equipment users - with leaves to mulch, garden beds to clean out, and yards to prepare for winter. The bustle of fall outdoor activities and chores can take a toll on outdoor power equipment, and it's important for homeowners to check their equipment, maintain it well, and store it properly for the winter.
OPEI offers the following tips to help homeowners keep their lawn and garden equipment in top shape, readying for winter storage:
Set up a safe work zone. Identify a safe location with plenty of work space that is out of the way of children and pets. Work only in a well-ventilated area that is away from heat sources, sparks or flames.
Collect your outdoor power equipment. This might include a lawn mower, generator, string trimmer, chain saw, edger, power washer, blower, chipper, splitter, or other tool that uses a small engine to do outdoor work.
Turn equipment off. Before servicing or repairing any outdoor power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables.
Protect yourself. Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris.
Inspect your outdoor power equipment. Make sure safety guards are not disabled or missing. Check for loose belts or missing or damaged guards. Check and tighten all screws and nuts.
Clean your equipment. Grass, leaves and dirt that have accumulated on equipment should be removed. Use a soft rag or cloth to clean away grime and dirt.
Drain the fuel. Stored equipment should not have fuel in its tank. Many fuels today contain ethanol, which absorbs water and may phase separate, causing operating problems. If there is fuel in the tank, remove what remains. Run the engine until the engine stops so the fuel is used up. Get more information on safe fueling at www.LookBeforeYouPump.com
Store leftover fuel properly. Gasoline should be stored no more than 30 days without being treated with a fuel stabilizer. Use a sealed container that is approved for fuel storage. Always keep fuel out of the reach of children and away from heat sources or flames.
Lubricate, sharpen, and charge as needed. Check the oil levels and blade conditions. Change the oil now if needed. Get lawn mower blades sharpened so it will be ready for spring. Inspect the spark plug, replace it, and add clean engine oil. Check the air filter and clean or replace as needed. If equipment has a removable battery, take it out and store it in a warm spot. If you have a battery charger, charge the battery before storing it.
Service equipment. If you are not comfortable performing some of these tasks or think that your equipment needs additional servicing, now is a good time to take it to a dealer or repair shop.
Identify and clear a safe storage space. An indoor storage area will protect equipment from the elements. Your storage area should be cool and dry, and equipment should be out of the reach of children and pets. Store equipment away from pool chemicals, cleaners, or fertilizers?anything that could cause corrosion from spills.
Properly store supplies. Using approved storage containers for lawn care or yard supplies will help avoid spills in storage spaces. Leftover materials should be stored in sealed containers, so pests like rodents are not drawn to them. Keep containers out of the reach of children and pets.
Locate your winter outdoor power equipment. Locate snow shovels, snow blowers or throwers, ice scrapers, ice melt or rock salt. If you are low on winter supplies, now is a good time to stock up. Place winter equipment and supplies in an accessible location so they can be found easily when the first snowflakes and ice arrive.
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, small engine, and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers worldwide. Get more information and safety tips at www.opei.org. For information on proper fueling, go to www.lookbeforeyoupump.com.