Helpful Tips for Cold Weather Storage
In case you hadn’t noticed, winter is only a few months away. In anticipation of the cold, it is imperative that engine-powered products like water pumps, pressure washers and portable generators are properly prepared for winter storage. Completing these steps keeps each unit ready for operation when warmer weather returns and extends the life of the unit’s engine. Failure to safeguard your products from the effects of winter weather can end up costing you in the long run. Avoid harmful pitfalls and perform the following storage tips before each winter season:
Properly Treating Fuel
While it can be difficult to know when you will use an engine-powered product for the last time each year, the fact remains that fuel can go bad in as few as 30 days. As spoiled fuel can lead to operational issues and potential damage to the unit’s engine, setting a reminder to treat fuel as the cold weather months approach is always a good idea.
As a part of long-term storage preparations, add stabilizer to the product’s existing fuel supply and run the engine for 10-15 minutes to ensure proper circulation in the unit’s fuel system. If you would prefer to simply drain excess fuel, be sure to empty it into an approved container. Then run the engine dry.
Similar to gasoline, oil has a limited shelf life. When product owners fail to provide proper oil maintenance prior to long-term storage, oil remaining in the engine is likely to sludge in colder climates, leaving the product susceptible to operational issues and potential damage down the line.
To avoid this threat and ensure optimal product performance when warmer weather returns, allow the unit’s engine to cool down after your last use before storage, drain oil from the crankcase and add the lowest viscosity oil specified for your product. While 5W-30 synthetic oil is recommended for use in all temperature ranges, check the product’s documentation to ensure an alternative oil type is not required.
Providing Proper Lubrication
Another common cause of inadvertent wear and tear is failing to keep an engine’s piston rings and cylinder bore properly lubricated throughout the year. To prevent potential damage to these vital components, check your owner’s manual to verify how much oil should be added to the engine’s cylinder before storage. Then remove the spark plug, pour the recommended amount of oil into the cylinder and pull the product’s recoil starter a couple of times to provide proper lubrication. Avoid spray from the spark plug hole when cranking the unit’s engine by shielding the exposed opening. Lastly, reinstall and tighten the unit’s spark plug and leave the spark plug wire disconnected.
Even when they aren’t being used, batteries lose their charge over time. Once voltage levels fall below a certain level, the battery will either die or fail to hold a charge for extended periods of time. To ensure the convenience of electric start — if your unit has it — charge your product’s battery periodically throughout the winter months. Generally speaking, batteries used in portable generators should be charged at least once every 30 days for no longer than 48 hours at a time. To confirm the charging cadence for your unit, refer to its owner’s manual.
What about Home Standby Generators?
Home standby generators can be equipped with cold weather kits to temper the effects of frigid temperatures. By changing to lower viscosity oil in the winter months, providing routine maintenance and setting the unit to exercise on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, home standby generator owners never have to deal with tedious long-term storage preparations.
As complete maintenance and storage requirements will vary from one product type to the next, completing the following steps is also recommended for each product type listed below:
- Drain trapped water by pulling water drain plug
- Disconnect attached hoses
- Turn off pressure washer and water supply, point spray gun in a safe direction and squeeze trigger to relieve trapped pressure
- Disconnect hoses and flush detergent connections
- Ground battery cables
- Ensure all cords are disconnected
- Wipe down to rid product of dirt and debris
To find your unit’s owner’s manual and review specifications and other maintenance-related recommendations for your product, click here
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