Springtime yard equipment tips
NEW MARKET — As spring comes to the Shenandoah Valley, area residents will be breaking out their lawn mowers, weed eaters and hedge trimmers to groom and maintain their lawns until the leaves begin to brown.
Trey Moomaw, co-owner of Route 11 Equipment Sales, said as folks start their first spring yard clean up, they might encounter equipment issues. To avoid equipment break down, Moomaw offered the following tips for some of the season’s more frequently used yard tools.
“Nine out of every 10 lawn mowers we get for repair in the spring have fuel-related issues,” Moomaw said.
“If you’re dealing with a tank of old fuel and it smells bad, probably the best thing to do is get it out of there,” Moomaw said. “Take the line off, let the carburetor drain the fuel and take it to a disposal center. We have one here.”
Moomaw said because most fuel has 10 percent ethanol in it, if the fuel sets for too long, it begins to separate with the fuel rising to the top and the ethanol setting at the bottom. The concentration of ethanol means it will leave enzymes deposits, which can clog fuel lines, Moomaw said.
“The big thing these days is how long fuel is going to last. The manufactures say every 60 to 90 days, the old fuel needs to be gotten rid of,” Moomaw said.
The separation doesn’t just happen in the lawn mower, but also in gas cans, Moomaw said.
“Folks have fuel left over from last year,” Moomaw said. “The can’s half empty, it’s been sitting out in the building and it’s been 100 degrees and minus 10 in there and condensation builds up, which causes the separation.”
Another issue Moomaw sees this time of year is batteries. Moomaw said because today’s lawn mowers have two cylinder engines as opposed to one cylinder, they need bigger batteries.
“You’re cranking over twice the amount of engine, so you need to get that 300-, 350-volt battery, so it will start easier and the battery will last longer,” Moomaw said. “During the winter … charge the battery with a trickle charger or start the mower and let it run for 15 minutes to charge it up.”
People should also keep the decks of their lawn mowers clean of grass clumps and their blades sharpened, Moomaw said.
“If the deck gets wet with the grass on it, the deck will rust out before you know it,” Moomaw said. “You got pulleys near that deck and they get water, they’ll rust out too.”
Moomaw added, “Blades, people run them all year, they haven’t kept up with then, they’re wore down and rusted, they can get off balanced and ruin your bearings and spindles and belts.”
Moomaw also recommended changing the oil, air filter and spark plug after every 50 hours of use, mainly due to the build up of dust in the engine.
“These aren’t cars driving on a road, they’re in the grass and building up all sorts of dirt and what have you,” Moomaw said.
OTHER EQUIPMENT AND ISSUES
• Weed eaters: Moomaw said weed eaters are especially prone to fuel issues because they use a two-stroke fuel additive that lubricates the engine. He said weed eaters need to have fresh fuel and storing them “dry,” without gasoline, can lead to cracked lines, so either fill the gas to the top to reduce condensation or use an ethanol-free fuel made for storage. Also, Moomaw said removing the grass guard at the bottom of the weed eater is bad because the guard has a blade on it that keeps the line at a proper length. Too long of line can lead to a burned-out clutch.
• Weed eater line: If a weed eater’s line is old and brittle, Moomaw recommends putting it in a five-gallon bucket filled with water for a month to restore its flexibility.
• Warranties: Moomaw said while most manufacturers have five-year warranties on equipment, issues related to old fuel are not covered by warranties. “That’s on you,” Moomaw said.
• Hedge trimmers: Keep the blades sharpened and oil it after every use, Moomaw said. Dull blades can tear, rather than cut, limbs, which result in brown bushes.
• Chainsaws: Keep the blades sharp, Moomaw said. Dull blades can overheat the bar and create finer dust, which can clog up the engine.
• Throttle: Lawn equipment is designed to operate at full throttle, Moomaw said. At full throttle, the engine can cool adequately.
Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org