Seasonal Preventative Maintenance Tips
Fall 2021

Seasonal Storage Tips

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding outdoor power equipment is “How do I store my chain saw/grass trimmer/blower for winter?”. Whenever STIHL equipment is going to be stored for a long period of time (3 months or greater), there are some steps that have to be taken to protect the engine from damage and to ensure proper performance when the time comes to put it back into service. A few easy steps will ensure that your STIHL is ready for action when you are.

Before attempting any of the following procedures, be sure to familiarize yourself with the information found in the owners manual and to wear the appropriate protective apparel (work gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, etc).

STEP 1: Drain the fuel from your STIHL. It is important to drain the fuel from your STIHL equipment because in as little as 60 days, fuel will deteriorate. As fuel ages, the chemical properties change, the gasoline becomes corrosive and residue will begin to form inside carburetors and fuel tanks. The ethanol content now commonly found in fuels further complicates the process; prolonged exposure to ethanol is detrimental to elastomers in fuel lines, carburetor diaphragms, oils seals, etc. Ethanol can also absorb water from the atmosphere, which can cause phase separation (formation of layers of fuel, water, ethanol inside your fuel tank). Draining fuel from the system eliminates all of these scenarios. This is also a great opportunity to wash out any debris that may be present in your fuel tank. Any dirt or debris left in the fuel tank will collect at the fuel filter, and eventually plug up the filter. Please discard or dispose of any left over fuel in an environmentally responsible manner. Any fuel left in your portable storage container should also be discarded at this time.

STEP 2: Start and run the engine at idle speed until the engine stops. This step will eliminate any fuel that is left in the fuel system and prevent varnish from forming inside the carburetor. Never operate an engine at wide open throttle with no load on the engine as damage may result. Set the choke and restart the engine to ensure that the fuel system is completely emptied.

STEP 3: Thoroughly inspect and clean your STIHL. This is the opportune time to check your STIHL for any loose or missing screws and fasteners, check the condition of the starter cord and handle, make sure that all engine housings, guards and deflectors are in place and properly secured. Any damaged components should be repaired or replaced before using your equipment. In order for the engine to cool properly while running, it is important that adequate airflow around cylinder fins be maintained, remove any dirt/debris that is built up on the starter housing and around the cylinder fins. The cutting attachment (guide bars and chains, brushcutter line heads or blades and hedge trimmer blades) should be disassembled, cleaned, sharpened and prepared for use the following spring. Metal parts should have a film of lubricant applied to prevent rust from forming.

STEP 4: Clean and/or replace the sparkplug. After servicing the cutting attachment, the engine should be cool enough for you to remove the sparkplug. Excessive carbon built up on the sparkplug can be removed with a stiff wire brush and the electrode gap can be reset to .020" or 0.5 mm. If you choose to replace the sparkplug, keep in mind that different types of equipment require different types of sparkplugs (heat range, electrode reach and thread size). All STIHL equipment requires a resistor style sparkplug. If in doubt, contact your servicing dealer for the correct type of sparkplug. Before reinstalling the sparkplug, put a couple of drops of 2-cycle oil down the sparkplug hole and gently pull the starter rope to spread the oil around the inside of the cylinder. Reinstall the sparkplug and reconnect the ignition lead.

STEP 5: Clean and/or replace the air filter. Air filter maintenance varies depending on your type of equipment. Generally speaking, the air filter can be removed and cleaned by lightly tapping the edge of the filter or by using a soft bristle brush to remove any dirt on the surface. Before attempting to remove the air filter, turn the choke shutter on to prevent any dirt from entering the engine. When cleaning the filter, inspect the inside of the air filter housing. Any dirt or debris present here, indicates that the air filter should be replaced. Avoid using fuels, solvents or compressed air when cleaning the air filter. Consult your servicing dealer or operator’s manual for specific instructions on proper filter maintenance for your STIHL.

STEP 6: Proper storage. STIHL recommends storing your equipment in a dry and elevated secure location out of reach of children or unauthorized persons. STIHL power equipment should never be stored near a source of heat or ignition.

Following these instructions for storage will ensure that when you are ready to go to work, your STIHL will be ready too!