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Generator, Chainsaw Storage Tips to Ensure Usage After a Storm Hits

Posted on 09/04/19 by Dave Bruns

Chainsaw. Close-up of woodcutter sawing chain saw in motion, sawdust fly to sides. Concept is to bring down trees.

So Hurricane Dorian worried you enough to haul the portable generator out of storage, just to make sure you had backup power if you needed it. And it wouldn’t start. This applies not only to electrical power generators but any type of power equipment fueled by gasoline – chainsaws, lawnmowers, edgers and more. But since many Floridians don’t use their generators except during power outages after storms, preventive fuel maintenance is especially important for generators.

It’s a familiar story. A 2017 survey by Gold Eagle Inc., manufacturer of a popular fuel-stabilizer fluid, showed that more than six in 10 owners of power equipment confessed they had trouble starting the equipment after storage.

Causes can vary. But one cause is varnish, a thick, gooey, honey-like substance that can form in fuel tanks, fuel lines and carburetors or fuel injectors.

“Almost as fast as milk, fuel will go bad and jell up. A clogged carburetor will not allow fuel to get to the engine,” said Matt Kosko, a brand manager with Gold Eagle. “Once fuel goes bad, nothing can restore its properties.”

Before storing any gasoline-powered equipment, Gold Eagle recommends proper maintenance, Kosko says. That includes cleaning the equipment inside and out, removing or disconnecting the battery, changing the engine oil and – this is important – adding stabilizer to the fuel.

If your generator has a clogged carburetor, you may have to take it to a small-engine repair shop to get your carburetor cleaned and rebuilt. It can be costly – Gold Eagle’s 2017 survey found homeowners spent an average of $523 for all types of repairs on all types of equipment.

Remember, never run your generator in your house or in any enclosed area. Learn more at pgmaonline.com/safety.asp.

Here are AARP Florida’s tips for making sure your generator starts the next time you need it:

  1. Get a plastic gas container just for your generator fuel. Keep it empty until a storm approaches, then fill it with fresh gasoline.
  2. Treat fresh chainsaw or generator fuel immediately with a fuel stabilizer. Most big-box home stores or auto-parts stores sell gas stabilizer. A typical price is about $6 for eight ounces, enough to treat 20 gallons of fuel. Fuel stabilizer can keep varnish from building up in your generator’s fuel system for up to two years. It also can help keep the fuel system clean and to absorb water that can corrode the system. But beware of fuel additives that say they will restore plastic or rubber components damaged by fuel storage.
  3. The next step depends on how often you use your chainsaw or generator. If you use your generator frequently and you added stabilizer to the fuel, clean it, change the oil if necessary and store it. Your fuel will be good for up to two years, and you’ll use that fuel in much less time.
  4. If you only use the generator during storms, AARP Florida advises you to safely drain your fuel tank before you store the generator. (Be careful not to spill gas on a hot engine exhaust while draining the tank.) While stabilized fuel can be good for up to two years, you may forget to drain the tank if there’s no storm in your area next year. Even stabilized fuel can eventually go bad.
  5. Another step you can take is to run the generator dry of gasoline after you drain the fuel tank. THEN put the generator away until the next storm.
  6. You may also want to use non-ethanol gasoline in your generator. It’s often sold as “boat gas,” because it is popular among boat owners for their outboard engines. Today’s regular unleaded gasoline can contain ethanol, which can damage some kinds of plastic fuel lines, as well as causing deposits in engines. There are fuel additives that can help avoid these issues too, but if you drain your tank and run the generator dry after a storm passes, you won’t have to fix a problem you prevented.

Properly maintaining your generator will not only save you some headaches next hurricane season, it will lower your stress level as a hurricane approaches. That’s important.

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