This is the part of our site where we post maintenance suggestions you can follow to help prolong the life of your equipment. Following these relatively easy steps can help your equipment meet or exceed its life expectancy, making sure that you get the most return from your investment, and helping you to avoid the headaches that broken equipment can cause down the road.
Your equipment is a big investment, and in order to ensure that you get your money's worth out of it, you must maintain it. While changing the oil is important, there is more that must be done to prevent you from having trouble down the road.
Our recommendation is that you regularly, at least once a season, get a full tuneup done on your equipment to make sure that it is ready when you need it for years to come!
The single most common problem we see in carbureted small engines of all uses these days is poor running or lack of running due to ethanol fuel. The ethanol causes fuel lines and other rubber components to deteriorate, corrodes carburetor components, and coats the interior of carburetor float bowls with a gummy substance that best resembles apple jelly. Ethanol is also a magnet for moisture, which draws water into the fuel system. These side effects make ethanol a natural enemy to small engines. As a result engines effected can surge, pop,lack power, or fail to run altogether. Today's fuel also only has a shelf life of 30-45 days, after which it is not recommended for use in small engines.
Above is a Kohler carburetor that sat with untreated fuel in it for 7 months. Notice the gelled fuel in the bottom of the bowl. This is what restricts jets and passages and causes poor performance.
So what do we recommend to avoid having ethanol related trouble? The most important thing to do is to treat your fuel with an ethanol compatible stabilizer as soon as you get it from the pump. Depending on which stabilizer you use, this can help preserve gas for between 6 months and 2 years. The next step to take is to leave fuel in your machine. In years past the recommendation has always been to drain all fuel from equipment, but now we recommend leaving stabilized fuel in the engine and running equipment periodically for about 5-10 minutes during the off season. When it comes to 2-cycle equipment such as chainsaws and string trimmers we recommend using SEF small engine fuel, which is a fully synthetic, ethanol free, pre-mixed fuel that does not cause the problems ethanol fuel causes.
Another common problem we see in small engines is mice. Mice like to build nests in the tight spaces under the shrouds of small engines. They tear up foam filters and use them to construct their nests and like to chew on wires. This can cause two problems. First is overheating. Since most small engines are air cooled they rely on air traveling through cooling fins beneath the engine shrouds. Mouse nests can restrict airflow and prevent the engine from being cooled. This can cause the engine to overheat and can easily ruin it. The other problem stems from the mice chewing on wires. This can cause the engine not to run or certain components such as headlights and electric clutches not to function. Of course bare wires also always present a fire hazard.
There are many products designed to keep mice away from your equipment. These products range from electric repellants that make high pitch noises to sprays and pellets. If you notice debris such as wool and insulation sticking out from under your engine shrouds it is time to pull them off and blow out your engine!
Debris Build Up
Debris build up can become quite problematic quite quickly. Build up of grass and debris on top of mower decks can cause belts to break, and can cause heat build up which can prematurely wear out bearings in spindles and pulleys and can easily cause a fire. Debris buildup around transmissions can cause linkages to stick and work hard and can cause drive belts to come off or break. Lastly, much like a mouse nest grass and debris build up in and around the engine can lead to overheating and extensive engine damage.
The best way to prevent debris build up is to clean off your mower after each use by utilizing compressed air, a leaf blower, pressure washer or even just your garden hose. If at all possible, try to avoid cutting tall grass that can build up easily.