As we close in on November, it is time to transition from mowing the lawn to throwing the snow. That means shutting down and storing the lawn equipment for the year and cranking up the snow thrower to get it ready for winter.
General advice on shutting down lawn equipment for the season is to run the engine until all the fuel in the tank runs dry or to at least put a fuel additive like Sta-Bil (www.goldeagle.com/brands/stabil/) into the gas tank if you plan to let it sit over the winter. But that may not be the best way to shut it down for the winter.
“There is a lot of alcohol in gasoline that can gum up the gas lines on the equipment and rot the rubber parts, so you need to do more than just run it dry,” said Darryl Flachsmann, a technician with Bourlier & Sons, (586) 792-6300, www.bourlier.com. “In fact, you should never keep gas in your lawn equipment or even in the gas can for more than 30 days because it loses the octane level and isn’t good to use in your equipment.”
While you could use that gas in your car, the more sensitive engines for your lawn or snow-throwing equipment need the freshest fuel to run properly.
Flachsmann said when shutting down your lawn equipment for the year, first add some Sta-Bil into the fuel tank and then run it dry. Then you should drain the carburetor if possible before storing the equipment for the winter. He said you should also clean the air filter and change the spark plug and oil in your mower, but you can wait until spring to do that.
Once you have properly stored your lawn equipment, then you can turn your attention to your snow thrower.
“If you left fuel in the tank from last winter and didn’t run it dry, try to start it and run out the old fuel, and then replace it with fresh fuel when the first snow hits,” Flachsmann said.
He said one mistake people make is to start the snow thrower up now to make sure it works, and then leave the fuel in it. Unfortunately, with our sporadic winter weather, it may be a month or more before you use the snow thrower, and the gas will need to be replaced with fresh fuel again to keep the snow thrower working properly.
While getting your snow thrower ready is important, so is stocking up on other winter snow removal items, such as shovels or ice melters. Bob Jones, operation director for Trevarrow ACE Hardware in Troy, (248) 689-8030, www.trevarrowace.com, said the majority of customers still purchase the heavy-duty plastic snow pushers that range in width from 24 inches to 48 inches.
Jones said two winter products that are already selling well due to the cooler weather include window insulation film and Great Stuff insulation foam that helps winterize the home and save energy costs. He also said he is doing a brisk business in rodent control products, as mice like to come inside your home when the cold weather hits.
Even though winter hasn’t officially arrived, stocking up on ice melters now is a good preventative measure to prepare for those mild snow falls or to keep the walks clear after you shovel or “throw.”
While old-fashioned rock salt made from sodium chloride is the cheapest ice melter available, it can be harmful to vegetation and concrete, and doesn’t work when temperatures fall below 22 degrees. Ice melters with potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium acetate or calcium magnesium acetate, which are less harmful to your concrete and grass, work at lower temperatures. Many ice melters feature a combination of these ingredients, so read the label to know what you are buying. If you have pets that go outside in the winter, look for special pet-safe products that are chloride-free such as Safe Pet Ice Melter from Milazzo Industries, www.milazzoindustries.com.
Whether you are getting ready to store your lawn equipment, or getting that snow thrower ready for the first big storm, a little preventative maintenance now will ensure all your equipment will start easily and run smoother this winter and next spring. And it might not be a bad idea to put your snow shovel within easy reach, because it won’t be long before it will get plenty of use.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.