Getting the Most out of Your Outdoor Power Equipment
It’s getting to be that time of year. It’s time to pull out the mower, blower or trimmer to get your lawn and garden in shape for the greening and growing months ahead. But, before you can get your lawn and garden in shape, you’ll need to make sure that your outdoor power equipment is up to snuff.
Like a car, a poorly tuned small engine will run roughly, guzzle gas and emit pollution. First, clean or replace the air filter; the engine then will use less gas and put out fewer hydrocarbon emissions. Dust filters prevent damage to the motor air intakes. The filter allows the air through, but not the dust. However, the filter eventually gets clogged with enough dirt so that air can’t pass. When this happens, no air…or a reduced amount…is provided to the engine, and efficient combustion can’t take place. If your engine is running roughly, check your air filter. Often, hot soapy water is all that’s needed to give it a good cleaning. Be sure to read your owner’s manual to learn how to properly clean or replace the air filter.
Next change the oil; that’ll reduce friction and fuel consumption. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the grade and amount of oil to be used. Then change the sparkplug; it’s the most common cause of engines failing to start. You can purchase a small-engine spark plug at any automotive store for about a dollar. Your equipment will start more easily and run more smoothly and cleanly. While you’re mowing, blowing and trimming — you’ll be cutting emissions, too.
Gasoline can damage an engine if left in the engine for long storage periods. A glaze can build up in the carburetor, clogging it and preventing it from operating efficiently. Various additives are available that will “deglaze” the internal parts of a gas engine that is in this condition. A carburetor is less likely to “gunk up” if the equipment is put away with an empty fuel tank. You should empty the carburetor, as well. It’s easy. Just remove the fuel line and let the gas drain from the tank into your fuel container. Replace the line and start the engine. The fuel will be drawn into the engine and burned. The fuel tank and carburetor will be empty and safe, and gunk won’t build up during storage.
If you didn’t think to drain your equipment at the end of last season, you can use a deglazing fluid that will clean internal parts and make it easier to start the engine. Whatever you do, don’t try using an additive with old fuel. If you made the mistake of not draining your equipment last year, be sure to do it before using it this season. A deglazing fluid is not the same as engine-starting fluid. If you feel the need, you can use both, but be sure that the inside of your engine is thoroughly clean for a problem-free season of operation.
Finally, when it comes to cutting equipment such as mowers and trimmers, be certain that the blades are sharp and that all parts (including the underside of the mower deck) are clean and free of grass and debris. It’s easy to check a mower blade for sharpness and balance. First, remove the spark-plug wire to prevent the engine from starting, which could result in a serious injury. If the blade is dull, remove it and sharpen it with a file. To check balance, put the center hole on a screwdriver or your fingertip. The heavy side will be lower. Just keep filing till they balance. Lubricate all moving parts including wheels, and then fire it up.
Remember safety, too. Before you hit the turf, check for debris that can become deadly missiles. With a little care and extra effort, you will have a beautiful lawn and garden all summer long and be around to enjoy it.
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