Let’s face it. We all know we should do preventative maintenance on just about everything, including our outdoor power equipment. But how many of us actually DO preventative maintenance regularly? Do you know why you should perform maintenance? Ultimately, it will save you money and protect your investment for years to come. Preventative maintenance isn’t just about looking over your equipment when spring arrives or when you’re getting ready to store your equipment for the winter. It should be done at regular intervals, especially if you’re a professional landscaper, but homeowners need to be just as diligent. They just don’t have to do it as often as a professional landscaper. Look at your operator’s manual for the recommended schedule.
Prior to performing any type of preventative maintenance, it’s important to understand what kind of engine you’re maintaining. ECHO engines are small displacement 2-stroke engines. Ethanol blended fuel and reduction in exhaust emission mandated by the EPA are responsible for changes in how often you need to perform preventive maintenance.
One aspect of preventative maintenance often overlooked is where you live. If you’re in the Midwest, chances are there’s not as much dust blowing around like there is in dry, arid parts of the country. Your climate and region can affect how often you should be inspecting your equipment prior to use. Why do we bring this up? Well, one of THE most overlooked and MOST important areas of preventative maintenance is air filtration. Your air filter’s primary job is to keep dirt and debris out of your engine. Air filters can only hold so much dirt and debris before it starts getting pulled into the engine. Once it’s there all of that dirt and debris begins to act as an abrasive and your equipment starts to go downhill pretty quickly. It grinds against the internal components of your engine, getting caught between the piston and the cylinder; wearing away internal engine components.
Great! Now that we know that little nugget of information, what is the best way to combat the issue? Inspect and replace your air filter when visible wear, engine performance and dirt become noticeable. Typically your air filter should be inspected prior to each use and replaced every three months or 90 hours. I know, I know, you’re thinking every time I start up my equipment I need to check it? Again it depends on where you live. If you live in Arizona and a dust storm has made its way through, you probably want to check the condition of your air filter. As always, consult your operator’s manual for recommended inspection and replacement schedules.
What’s next on our preventative maintenance list? Fuel Filters. These little guys help keep dirt and debris out of your carburetor. You may be asking yourself, “What’s so bad about not regularly changing your fuel filter?” Over time, they gather fuel deposits, gums and varnishes (from old or stale ethanol based fuel) which leads to filters getting clogged and ultimately restricting fuel to the engine; BUT more importantly the oil doesn’t pass through the fuel lines to lubricate engine components. Not having engine components properly lubricated could cause any of the following symptoms:
• Poor Engine Performance
• Difficulty in Starting
• Drop in Power Under Load
• Engine Seizure — starved from fuel, which causes a lack of lubrication – leading to metal to metal contact
Fuel Filters should be inspected every three months or 90 hours and replaced once a year; again, depending on your unit, region of the country and the recommended schedule provided in your operator’s manual.
Last but not least are spark plugs. In general, spark plugs should be replaced yearly if you don’t reside in a region where your equipment sees use 12 months out of the year. Over time, spark plugs can get deposits on them which could lead to engines not starting. As long as you inspect every three months or 90 hours, you should be in tip top shape. As always reference your operator’s manual for recommended inspection and replacement schedules.
I know this may seem daunting but performing preventative maintenance is really quite easy and it’s even easier using ECHO’s YouCan™ Maintenance Kits. All the components we discussed come pre-packaged in one of the kits and in most cases replacing parts can be done in under five minutes! Five minutes every season is worth the extended life on your outdoor power equipment. You can do it; it’s easy!
One last note about fuel. Before you break out your newly serviced equipment, make sure you are using fresh fuel. Chances are, whatever fuel you’ve got sitting in your garage or shed through winter is not good, unless of course it was a pre-mixed fuel like Red Armor Fuel. That old fuel, will ruin all the hard work you just did on prepping your unit for the season and you might find yourself requiring the service of a professional technician.
Happy Spring to you all! Check out the ECHO website for upcoming installation videos for the different YouCan kits.