Spring has sprung, and that means the annual cleaning and preparation of lawn and garden equipment. Whether it’s a mower, trimmer, blower, chain saw or pruner, if it runs on gasoline, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute recommends a series of steps to avoid fuel-related problems and ensure a smooth-running engine.

Many are so eager to pull out lawn and garden equipment once spring arrives that they sometimes forget basic steps to ensure the powerhouse of the equipment – the engine – is in good working order,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “One challenge is that most fuel contains some level of ethanol, which contains corrosive alcohol, so you want to make sure that fuel does not sit in the tank for more than 30 days, and especially not over winter.”

To avoid fuel related problems when you pull out your lawn and landscaping equipment, OPEI reminds consumers to check the following:

  • If fuel has been sitting all winter long in the fuel tank, don’t use it in the spring.  Drain it responsibly and put in fresh fuel.
  • Do not use gas with more than 10 percent ethanol (E10). Some gas stations may begin to offer 15 percent ethanol (E15), but this higher ethanol fuel is dangerous, and is in fact illegal, to use in any small engine equipment, such as chain saws, snow throwers, generators, lawn mowers, lawn tractors and all other lawn and garden equipment. For more information on E15 and why you can’t use this in lawn and garden equipment, go to www.opei.org/ethanolwarning.
  • Don’t leave fuel sitting in the tank for more than 30 days. Untreated gasoline (without a fuel stabilizer) left in the fuel system will deteriorate, which may cause starting or running problems and, in some cases, damage to the fuel system.
  • After finishing mowing, turn the fuel valve OFF and leave it OFF until it’s time to mow again. Fill the mower’s fuel tank between uses to minimize air in the tank.
  • Store gasoline in a clean and sealed plastic container approved for fuel storage, and store the container away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep the air filter properly serviced and check it before each use. A properly maintained air filter will help prevent dirt from entering the carburetor