All through spring, summer and fall, your outdoor equipment served you well. Whether you own small or large engine devices, hand tools or sports equipment, you’ll need to prepare them for winter.
Just as God worked for six days and rested on the seventh, He commanded:
For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard and your olive grove. (ESV, Exodus 23:10-11)
[bctt tweet=”Winter is a time to rest and for the land to lie fallow — and it’s also time to put your equipment to rest for the season.”]
Read on for five ways for your family to get your equipment ready for winter.
5 Ways to Get Your Equipment Ready for Winter
- Clean Engines
Before storing your mower, trimmer or other small machine engine, remove the lead wire from the spark plug and tape or tie it out of the way. Then, clear away debris like grass, leaves and mud. This will keep moisture at bay, preventing freezing and reducing the chance of getting dirt in the gas tank.
Tip the machine on its side to access the under body. When cleaning the blades, use only a stick or tool to remove debris — never your hands.
- Check and Adjust Fluid Levels
Never store lawn equipment with a partially full fuel tank or with raw, un-stabilized gas. Each machine and manufacturer has different guidelines, so check your owner’s manual for the appropriate gas-to-oil ratio to reduce wear and tear on the engine. The correct amount of gas and oil will help the machine start more easily once it comes out of storage.
Most manufacturers will recommend either letting the equipment run out of fuel or adding fuel stabilizer to a full tank according to package directions. The stabilizer will keep fuel usable for up to half a year, while a full tank will keep moisture from condensing and forming rust.
Before the temperature drops severely, install the correct lubricants for your machine, also according to the operator’s manual. If you plan to start the machine at any point during winter, check each dipstick to ensure the levels are fluid enough to flow properly.
- Take Apart Manual Tools for Cleaning
Don’t wait until spring comes along to clean the dirt from your garden tools and other manual equipment. By giving them the necessary care and attention before you put them away, you’ll prolong the life of your tools and keep rust at bay. Wipe away dirt and debris and condition the tools with oil. Deconstruct tools like shears and clippers that have multiple moving parts in order to clean each component individually.
One strategy is to fill a five-gallon tub or bucket with a lubricant oil like WD-40 and sand. The sand should be dampened but not saturated. Plunge the metal portion of each tool or tool part into the mixture as many times as necessary to remove any remaining dirt or debris. This will also help keep the metal’s edges sharp and lubricate it, which helps protect the metal from rust.
- Elevate Equipment for Storage
Tools, sports equipment and other gear should be elevated to keep it off the wet ground. As snow melts, the salty runoff can permeate virtually any ground-level surface — causing rust and water damage if you’re not careful.
Use a garage organizational system to hang items above ground, or invest in high-quality plastic containers that won’t crack. Always keep stored equipment away from furnaces, pilot lights and other sources of heat.
- Watch for Damage
Any winter weather damage warrants full attention. When you pull items out of storage, conduct a visual inspection. Thoroughly check electrical wiring, hoses and attachments on large machines. If you plan to run the equipment at any point during winter, check all its components before you start it up. Check for any cracks, cuts or worn areas, which are more likely to occur when temperatures fluctuate significantly.
A Season of Preparation
As you clean and put away your tools and equipment, keep the meaning of the season with you. This time of rest won’t last forever, and just as animals come out of hibernation, the cycle will begin again in the spring. Make sure your equipment is as ready as you are to return to work.
Megan Wild is a home improvement writer who has developed something of a “green thumb” after tending her family’s garden. You can check out more of her garden tips at her blog, Your Wild Home