Keith Archambault, service manager at Nashua Outdoor Power, gets a lawn tractor ready for summer. (Nancy Bean Foster Photo)
NASHUA -- As winter takes its last gasp in the coming weeks, it will be time to put away the snowblower and break out the lawnmower. But both winter and summer equipment needs a bit of care before the change of seasons takes full effect.
Though rumors of more bad weather this week have Granite Staters moaning in disgust, spring is officially here and the snow should be melting away any minute now. Really.
But in New Hampshire, the next winter is never really far away, so doing proper maintenance on snowblowers and generators now can save a lot of money and aggravation next fall.
The most important thing about storing a snowblower over the summer, according to Keith Archambault, service manager at Nashua Outdoor Power, is getting the fuel out of the system.
"We recommend that people run their snowblowers until they run out of gas," said Archambault. "Fuel has corrosive properties and if it's left in an engine, it can damage the carburetor."
It's difficult to get all of the fuel out of a machine, so adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank helps prevent whatever gasoline is left from breaking down while its sitting in the tank for long periods of time, said Archambault.
Any equipment with an engine, including generators and chainsaws, faces corrosion problems if fuel is left to sit too long, and the engines may be hard to get started when they're needed the most.
Spring is also a great time to change the oil and spark plugs and do other routine maintenance so that snowblowers and other equipment are ready to go when winter comes back around.
"It gets really busy for us as soon as that first snow comes because people go out and realize they can't get their snowblowers started," Archambault said. "It's better to do all this stuff now and be ready ahead of time."
It's hard to imagine fields of lush green grass underfoot, but before long summer will be here and it'll be time to mow. Getting the mower or lawn tractor out of the shed may be easy, but sometimes getting it started can be a chore.
One of the problems that plagues folks in early spring is the presence of critters who have set up camp in their machines.
"Mice are attracted to anything with a current, and they like to chew through wires," said Archambault. "But they also like to nest in the engines."
The nests of the mice can inhibit the flow of air needed to cool the engines, and if an engine overheats, expensive damage can happen. Archambault said it's important to inspect for damage left by rodents before yanking the pull cord or hitting the "start" button.
Checking oil level in engines is a must, and for folks who use tractors at home year round, the oil used in the winter may be a different grade from the oil used in the summer.
"The best thing to do is to check your owner's manual, or to call us," said Archambault.
Busy time for repair shops begins the first week in April and doesn't slow until the end of July, so Archambault said the earlier folks get their equipment in for repairs and maintenance, the sooner they will get it back.