Lawn Equipment Storage – Are You Making A Terrible Mistake?
Are you getting ready to store away your lawn mower, weed trimmer, chainsaw or other gas powered Equipment for the winter?
If so, you’ve probably covered all the common maintenance areas like changing the oil, sparkplugs, air filter, etc., but have you forgotten one of the biggest things of all?
I’m speaking of adding a fuel stabilizer to your gasoline before shutting it down for season.
Why Do I Need To Use A Fuel Stabilizer Anyway?
Fuel StabilizerI’ve talked with a lot of people over the years who simply didn’t realize that gasoline can go bad in a short amount of time.
After just 60-100 days, fuel can become stale, begin to corrode fuel lines, gum up in the tank and carburetor and prevent you from easily starting your machine next season.
So, why does this happen? How does fuel go bad just sitting in the tank?
The short answer is due to having ethanol in our gasoline, which is found in just about every gas station in America.
As a form of alcohol, ethanol is hygroscopic.
You may be scratching your head wondering what the heck that even means, but ethanol, and alcohol in general, attracts and absorbs water vapor like a magnet attracts steel.
Of course, water is a fatal enemy to your fuel system and engine.
Since water separates from gasoline due to it being heavier than gas, when the water runs to your engine, your engine dies.
It makes since because gasoline burns, while water does not. At this point you might be thinking why in the world did the U.S. add ethanol to our gas then?
Good question. Personally, I am not a fan of ethanol and could go on a rant why I’m not, but I’ll leave that for another day.
Needless to say the answer has more to do with politics and big money than attempting to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
OK, moving on now!
Wait… Isn’t It Better To Simply Drain The Fuel Tank Before Storing Your Power Equipment?
Although this can work very well and I’ve done it myself many times, I don’t recommend it for the average person.
Whenever you drain the fuel tank, regardless of how thorough you feel you did the job, it could still hurt your engine.
Unless you’re removing every drop of gas from the carburetor, air is going to mix with these drops and begin gumming up and varnishing, which is going to make it difficult to impossible to run again until it gets cleaned up.
This is the main reason why your mower or weed eater won’t start the following Spring.
Unless you’re running pure gasoline without any trace of ethanol in your mower, weed trimmer, chainsaw, ATV or any other piece of power equipment, you should treat your fuel with an additive like Sta-Bil.
How Does Sta-Bil Work?
Sta-Bil slows down the degradation of fuel molecules by preventing oxidation of your gasoline, keeping it fresher for much longer periods of time.
There’s a much more scientific explanation to all this, but this isn’t a chemistry site.
When To Use Sta-Bil
I would advise to add Sta-Bil to every tank of gas on every piece of power equipment you own.
What I’ve done over the years with great success is to add it to my empty 5-gallon gas can before refilling it at the gas station.
It’s also much easier for me to remember as well.
Keep the container of Sta-Bil next to where you store your gas cans, and it’s easy to remember to add it before putting in your vehicle and running off to the station.
How Long Will Sta-Bil Last?
Most every fuel stabilizer, Sta-Bil included, will keep your fuel fresh for at least one-year.
I’ve noticed that Sta-Bil claims doubling the amount of their product could keep fuel good for up to two years.
I’ve never tried that and really wouldn’t advise it since stored gas will lose much of its volatility, or ability to ignite, after a year.
One Last Thing You NEVER Want To Forget
Fuel StabilizerAdding Sta-Bil to the tank is all well and good, but be sure you don’t forget to run the engine for a minute or so afterwards.
Just adding it to the tank won’t do the job before storing the equipment for the winter.
The stabilized fuel needs to go through the fuel line and carburetor or it will not prevent the very problem you’re trying to avoid.
I’m embarrassed to say that I had to learn this the hard way many years ago.
I wasn’t thinking and just added a little Sta-Bil to an already full fuel tank on my push mower and stored it away in the garage for the winter.
When I went to start it up in the Spring, I pulled and pulled and pulled with no luck.
After pulling the cord until my arm wore out and yelling more than my share of a few colorful words, I discovered that the carburetor had to be taken apart and cleaned. Needless to say, I haven’t done that ever since.
So, no matter what type, brand or kind of gasoline power equipment you use around your house, be sure to treat the fuel with a stabilizer.
You’ll be happy you did when Spring rolls around.