We get a lot of questions about our guidelines for seasonal tool and machine storage, and this article is here to spell it out. For most tools and machines, winterizing them means attending to the following five areas:
1. Fuel Service
3. Battery Service
5. Storage Below is a detailed description of each of these winterizing procedures.
Fuel Service Gasoline doesn't keep well over time. Simply leaving remaining fuel in a tool or machine over a season can really gunk it up. One of two things should be done with gasoline tools and machines before storing them:
1. The fuel should be emptied, and stored empty for the season. Or,
2. The fuel should be topped off and have a fuel stabilizer added to it.
Actually, a rather furious debate revolves around which of these two methods is better. Our eReplacementParts.com tool repairmen report that they see equal numbers of cases of fuel storage problems from resulting from both methods.
Ideally, a gas power tool would be stored with about a half tank of fresh fuel (with the addition of stabilizer), ran periodically during the winter, and periodically have more fresh fuel added to replace the old fuel; however, this is pretty impractical for most users.
We maintain that both of the above methods work equally well for storing gasoline power tools.
Lastly, before storing a gasoline machine, make sure that the fuel shut-off is switched to the "off" position, to restrict fuel to the fuel tank.
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Most of the recommended maintenance for winterizing tools and machines is actually optional. It's just that the season changes serve as a good time to get in the habit of sticking to a maintenance schedule. Here's the list of possible maintenance:
- Change the oil.
- Replace spark plugs.
- Lubricate cylinders with a small amount of oil.
- Clean or replace filters.
- Tighten screws, belts, and other parts that need it.
First, batteries should be disconnected from their motors before storage, and cordless batteries should be removed from the tool. If the machine has a large, water-holding battery (similar to those in cars), then it's also a good idea to top off the water level with some distilled water. Cordless tool batteries should be charged to full before storage, and, ideally, charged every 30 days or so while being stored.
[Back to top] Cleaning
This is especially important for lawn & garden and other outdoor tools, since they tend to get more dirty. Over time, buildup of dirt and organic material can wear down the surfaces of machines, and in some cases, cause performance-related issues. Here's a short list:
- Wipe or spray off any grass, dirt, grease, grime, and organic material. For lawn mowers, make sure to clean the whole underside of the cutting area.
- When the cleaning gets tough, use a brush.
- After cleaning under lawnmowers especially, many users prefer to spray the underside with some kind of lubricant to protect it from rust and make the surfaces more slick against future buildup. Machine owners recommend everything from silicon, to WD-40, motor oil, and cooking spray. Take your pick.
- Once they're clean, protect blades and other cutting edges with some kind of lubricant.
- Chips in paint can also be brushed up a little and then coated with lubricant to prevent rust.
Storage is simple. Keep tools and machines in a clean, dry place that is well-ventilated and protected against outside elements. Keeping tools in a garage is best whenever possible, so that they'll be stored closer to room temperature. Water is the biggest concern for tool storage, so if you think the ground might get wet, hang them up when possible.
[Back to top] Conclusion Once a few winterizing steps are accomplished, you can rest easy throughout the season knowing that your tools and machines are in good order. It's also great to start the summer season with the bulk of tool and machine service already completed. View our Power Tool Care and Maintenance article for more tool care tips. [Back to top] What we're about.