Winter brings shorter days, frigid temps, and slick, icy conditions. During this time of year, we need to take extra care of our equipment to avoid any damage the colder temperatures can bring. Read on to learn some tips on machine winterization!
MACHINE WINTERIZATION TIPS
Follow these best practices to make sure your equipment is ready for winter.
CHECK CHAIN TANKS, FINAL DRIVES, SWING GEAR BATHS, AND GEAR BOXES FOR WATER
Be sure that you are using coolant that complies with ASTM standard D-621, with a freeze point low enough for you climate. If coolant freezes, it can crack the engine block and ruin the engine.
ADD FUEL CONDITIONER
Fuel conditioner prevents your fuel from freezing and ensures your engine starts in the cold. The amount of fuel conditioner needed varies depending on the brand and model of the machine. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount of conditioner needed. Lastly, always match the fuel conditioner to the type of fuel you’re using (e.g. low sulfur).
CHECK THE FUEL FILTER
If the fuel filter is clogged, moisture can build up and freeze in the winter, causing your machine to run improperly or fail to start. Empty the water traps in the filters before cold weather arrives. To avoid downtime, keep an extra set of fuel filters in your cab.
CHECK COLD START AIDS
Diesel engines spray ether into the air system to help the engine start in cold weather. For older machines that have ether spray bottles, check the bottle to make sure it isn’t empty. For new machines with an automatic ether system, inspect the connections and hoses for cracks or loose connections.
CHECK THE BLOCK HEATER
Block heaters keep fluids at the optimum temperature and viscosity. If the block heater isn’t working, oil can thicken, making it harder to turn the engine over and causes added stress on the battery. To test that it is working properly, plug in the heater then touch the hoses to ensure they are warm.
INSPECT AIR PRE-CLEANERS
Large dust particles and debris can build up during the summer and should be removed. Otherwise, snow and ice could collect around them, allowing moisture into the air system, which could cause engine failure.
CHECK BATTERY AND CONNECTIONS
Corrosion around battery connections causes less voltage to be transmitted, and increases strain on the battery. These corroded connections can drain the battery, preventing your machine from starting. Periodic inspections for corrosion can reduce the chance of having a dead battery.
If your machine is still giving you trouble after you perform these winterization tips, contact our service department!
DRAIN THE FUEL TANK IF POSSIBLE
If you have a diesel engine, either drain the engine or leave it completely full during the winter months. Draining the fuel tank can be time consuming, but this eliminates the possibility of condensation forming in the fuel tank and spreading. Condensation can clog the fuel filter, which can clog fuel lines, carburetors, and injectors.
RUN THE ENGINE AFTER CLEANING
Run your machine after cleaning the engine and replacing the oil so that a protective film of oil coats the internal parts. The oil coating acts as a rust preventative. Pour a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze into the coolant system before running as well, to protect the cooling system up to -34°F.
CLEAN & FULLY CHARGE BATTERIES, THEN DISCONNECT THE POWER LEADS
Never store discharged batteries. Colder temperatures slow the discharge rate of fully charged batteries.
START MACHINES ONCE A MONTH
Avoid starting machines in extremely cold weather. Find a time when the temperature is above freezing to start the machine and fully warm hydraulics after the engine comes to operating temperatures.
DO NOT TRY TO BREAK CRAWLER TYPE MACHINES FROM A BADLY FROZEN SITUATION
The result can be powertrain damage.
COLD WEATHER OPERATION
PROTECT YOUR MACHINE
If you can’t keep your machine inside when it is not in use, try to at least keep a water resistant tarp over the engine. Snow brings condensation, which can cause problems for the entire engine.
Cold weather makes the earth harder, and frost can penetrate roadways and aggregates to make utility, road, and crushing jobs much more difficult and time consuming. Winter months have less daylight, so manage your time wisely.
CLEAN AREAS DESIGNATED FOR SNOW REMOVAL
Clean up debris or equipment that will be hidden by fallen snow. Mark any areas of concern with reflective stakes, so snow removal crews can easily identify and stay away from those areas.
PLAN FOR EARTHWORK PROJECTS
Frozen chunks of ground need to be placed in designated areas. The frozen chunks of earth contain water that can cause major issues in the spring, such as sinkholes.
WARM UP THE MACHINE/WARM UP TO IMPROVE STEERING RESPONSE
Let machines come up to operating temperature before working. Steering response on equipment with hydraulic steering may become very slow at low temperatures, even when the correct oils are used.
CHECK FOR ICE BUILDUP
Check for ice or snow buildup in exhaust or intake if applicable. Inspect and clear any ice or snow from the throttle and break area.
STAY AWARE OF SAFETY
Mount and dismount your machine using three points of contact. Remember that you are working with snow, ice slips and falls are a common cause of injuries. Wear your seatbelt when operating equipment and stay alert.
Prepare not only your equipment and jobsites; but your employees as well for these temperatures, to help avoid any possible personal injuries and downtime from work. Visit our blog to learn more winter safety tips!