Freezing temperatures, snow, ice and wind can do serious damage to tools and equipment, but properly treating and storing them can add years to their life and make them ready to use in the spring.
As a result, Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. (HERC) developed a list of winter care tips that everyone from the novice do-it-yourselfers to more experienced general contractors and equipment rental stores can benefit from.
If you haven’t already taken care of these simple measures, you should do so as soon as possible.
- Remove batteries from tools that will not be used to prevent battery acid from leaking.
- Clean power tools, such as hedge trimmers and leaf blowers, taking care to remove caked on grass and dirt. Remove rust using a small piece of steel wool.
- If tools will be stored in a garage or shed, don’t leave them on the floor or ground. Instead place them on shelves or hang them on nails or hooks. Water and the salt brought in on cars can both damage metal.
- Spray the metal parts of tools with a penetrating lubricating oil to protect from rust. Allowed to accumulate, rust will eventually pit the metal.
- Don’t leave garden hoses outside over the winter. Drain the hoses and hang them in a garage or other protected spot until spring. This will decrease their chances of springing leaks.
- Sharpen the cutting edges of hoes, shovels and similar tools before storing them.
- Small equipment should be brought inside at night or whenever it’s not being used. Large equipment should be shielded from direct wind. If a machine is in an open area and shielding it entirely is not possible, turn the engine of the machine away from direct wind.
- To winterize a lawn mower, drain the gasoline, change the oil, clean the air filter, clean off grass and dirt, and sharpen the blades — if necessary — before storing it in a dry place.
- Replace fuel filters, water separators and air filters at recommended service intervals. Keep a spare set of fuel filters on hand. In extreme weather, a used restricted fuel filter can cause equipment to lose power or not start at all. When this happens, filters need to be replaced.
- Drain water pumps and lines to keep them from freezing.
- Airless paint sprayers that use water-based paint should be filled with mineral spirits prior to storage to prevent rusting, corrosion and freezing.
For tools that are used during the winter, such as snow blowers, the tips below are suggested to ensure optimal performance:
- When starting a machine in cold weather, turn off all auxiliary power. Don’t crank the starter for long periods of time. Instead, allow the engine to warm up.
- Diesel engine equipment should be filled with winter-blend fuel for optimal performance. Coolant heaters also should be installed. In extreme cold, use engine block heaters. They keep motors and engines warm, which is important in getting equipment to start. Do not use ether. It ignites engines quickly, but is extremely flammable and can cause severe equipment damage.
- Battery efficiency drops drastically in cold weather. Use battery maintainers for equipment such as generators to prevent batteries from freezing.
You should never override the safety features of any tools or equipment and should consult operation manuals for maintenance guidelines. In addition, maintenance and cleaning should never be performed on running equipment.