Dealers and manufacturers report that one of the biggest problems they get every spring is a flood of calls about hedge trimmers that just will not start. In a great number of these cases, the problems come down to fuel and arise because customers have either left fuel in the machine throughout the winter or, have drained down the machine correctly before the winter – only to refill it with old fuel that has been stored in a can over the winter period.
Having a machine that just will not start is so frustrating and becomes even more so when you find out that the problem is not covered by the manufacturer’s limited warranty – even if the trimmer has only been purchased a short time ago.
Petrol available today has a very short shelf-life. Most petrol is sold with the expectation that it will not be in your tank for longer than a couple of weeks. Petrol begins to decrease in quality as soon as it has become exposed to oxygen in the air and light. Some of the lighter elements in the fuel evaporate which makes the remaining fuel harder for a spark plug to ignite. Other problems occur as the actual chemical composition of the fuel changes during storage and a sticky residue forms which gums up the inside of the carburettor and may also block the fuel filter. This is a particular problem for two stroke engines that can easily become damaged if not enough fuel is getting through.
So how do you avoid fuel problems like this with your petrol hedge trimmer?
For winter storage or any period of storage longer than one month, make sure you drain all the fuel mixture from the tank. Then, you should run the engine on ‘idle’ to use up any remaining fuel in the carburettor.
Clean the outside of the engine and the blades of your trimmer.
Another useful tip is to remove your spark plug and pour in just one teaspoonful of NEW two-stroke oil through the spark plug hold. Then pull the recoil starter several times SLOWLY whilst the ignition switch is OFF. Then replace your spark plug.
Take a look at the video below, you will see that this is for a Poulan leaf blower but the procedure of preparation for winter storage is just the same. Note that this person uses a lubricant spray through the spark plug hole instead of oil to protect the inside of the engine during the winter – but the principle is the same.
Store your trimmer in a clean dry place, preferably protected from extremes of temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Finally, make sure you safely dispose of any remaining fuel in your storage can and get this refilled with fresh fuel when you are ready to start re-using your hedge trimmer again. Do not go to all the trouble of draining down your machine, only to refill it with old, stale fuel as you will be giving yourself a lot of unnecessary problems.