Why it’s time for a midseason maintenance check

August 3, 2022 -  By
Experts say using lubrication designed specifically for chainsaws rather than engine oil is vital to keep up proper equipment maintenance. (Photo: Oregon Products)

Experts say using lubrication designed specifically for chainsaws rather than engine oil is vital to keep up proper equipment maintenance. (Photo: Oregon Products)

The midseason quickly creeps up on landscape professionals, a time experts say should come with maintenance checks on blowers, chainsaws and other handheld equipment.

Glenn Lovell, senior technical services technician for Oregon Products, says pros neglecting maintenance schedules remains a common problem.

“When it comes to chainsaws, it’s important to keep it well lubricated with bar and chain oil,” he says. “Fill your oil reservoir each time you fill your chainsaw’s gas tank. While operating your saw, make sure your saw chain, guide bar and sprocket are receiving oil from the saw.”

Lovell advises pros to use a flat file on damaged drive links to remove burs if a saw chain comes off its line during operation. Look for signs of wear on the guide bar, especially signs of interference issues.

“If you see blue spots, consider replacing your bar,” Lovell says. “If you’re finding knife edging — which is when the chain gradually raises a thin piece of metal from the bar’s edge — use a flat file or a bar rail dresser to remove the excess metal.”

He adds that many chainsaw users incorrectly opt for lubrication not designed for the equipment, such as motor oil.

Used motor oil contains metal shavings that reduce the life of the bar and chain.

Make a list

Jason Wilk, senior product manager with Echo, cites a list of maintenance tasks for any type of handheld equipment. These include removing debris from engine cooling air intakes during refueling; checking air filters daily to ensure proper sealing; inspecting fuel filters every 90 days; checking and servicing spark plugs every three months or after 90 hours.

Wilk says choosing proper gasoline and oil for the engine reduces engine issues in handheld equipment.

“Choose a fuel that has an octane rating of 89 or higher,” he says. “For two-stroke engines, choose a two-stroke oil that meets the JASO FD standard. Oils that are JASO FD-certified will have the JASO logo and certification number on the bottle.”

JASO FD oils are designed for higher detergency and engine cleanliness performance as well as meeting lubricity and low smoke requirements.

Stick with manufacturer guidelines

Dry spring and summer months often exacerbate problems in air filters, fuel filters and spark plugs. So, following manufacturer guidelines is that much more important, says Teno Cardoso, owner of AJ’s Lawn Care in San Marcos, Texas. Cardoso’s business provides maintenance, weed control and landscaping services for 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial clients.

“Don’t be that guy who’s so very proud of himself because his trimmer starts right up after three years and no maintenance,” he says. “It’s great that it is, but that machine is begging for a new air filter. Just take care of it the way the manufacturer says it’s supposed to be taken care of.”

No matter the job type, he says that unforgiving Texas heat can turn a typically minor maintenance misstep into a large one.

“The common mistakes in the field are just the general mishandling of equipment,” he says. “It’s tossing them in the back of the truck, putting poor gas into them, using cheap oil in them, banging trimmer heads on concrete and continuously choking chainsaws when they get airlocked. These machines literally pay the bills and should be well taken care of.”

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