Around this time of year, Associates at The Home Depot see a jump in the number of people asking why their motorized lawn tools no longer work. As often as not, the answer can be narrowed down with two questions: Is it a gas-powered tool? and, if yes: Did you clean out the fuel compartment before storing it over the winter?
When a customer admits that they didn’t, there’s a good chance the tool isn’t broken, just clogged.
The important thing to understand is that most modern fuel contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Even if your power tools were designed with ethanol in mind (and older tools often were not), fuel that is left to stand for several months will eventually deteriorate.
When unused ethanol fuel is left in an engine during prolonged storage, it can attract enough water to turn the fuel sludgy. Over time, that can corrode engine parts.
Left standing in the engines of your tools long enough, ethanol-blended fuel can eventually corrode a carburetor beyond repair.
Make a point of using ethanol-blended fuels within 30 days of purchase. Before you store your equipment for the off-season, be sure to drain any leftover fuel. Using a fuel stabilizer like Ethanol Shield can help prevent the separation that invites corrosion and turns fuel sludgy.
If you find that you’ve left fuel standing in a gas-powered tool, there are additives that can help salvage your engine. Mechanic In A Bottle, for example, converts accumulated H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, removing potentially corrosive water from your engine.
Too much corrosion, though, and you may have no choice but to replace some parts.
Once you’ve got your tools up and running again, make a note to take greater care next winter by following our tips for storing them over winter.