It’s portable equipment winter maintenance time again as, whether we like it or not, Old Man Winter is almost upon us. We don’t have to like this cold, snowy season but being prepared can minimize the damage that winter can impart on your portable equipment. Good preventative portable equipment winter maintenance practices prolong the life of your machinery, save money on costly repairs and avoid downtime on the job.
You can begin the winterization process by checking the coolant using a refractometer. Keep in mind that coolant recommendations will vary according to the ambient temperature. Don’t forget to test the supplemental coolant additive, which protects against scale, corrosion and liner pitting in all diesel engines. While you are checking the coolant look at the filters and change them according to manufacturer recommendations to maximize their effectiveness.
The heating elements will need to be tested too. All 24VDC heaters should be checked at each component while the power is turned on. All 120VAC heaters should be tested by plugging them into a 120VAC supply to make sure they are working correctly. If your equipment has a heater for the crankcase breather tube than that heater should be tested as well.
All battery terminals should be checked for rust, corrosion and secure connections. Inspect battery cables for wear or damage and replace them if necessary. Batteries have to work harder and can lose strength in colder temperatures. They are required to provide more power for engine start when temperatures are below freezing so be sure to replace older, weaker batteries before it gets too cold.
As the colder temperatures arrive make sure that you are using winter blend fuel and not standard No. 2 diesel as winter grade fuel prevents gelling or waxing issues. Make sure to keep fuel tanks topped off to prevent condensation when equipment is not being used or is stored for the season.