Home Inspector Winter Tips #6: Stabilize or Remove your fuel!

This week’s winter tip is to  either remove the fuel from or add fuel stabilizer to your gas-powered equipment. As a certified home inspector I do not check garden equipment. However, I do recommend that you add stabilizer to your fuel if it is to stay in the tank for the winter.

Here in Eastern Iowa, winter can last between three and five months depending on the year and weather cycle we are in. Modern ethanol blended gasoline does not have the same shelf life as the gasoline that our parents and some of us older folks used when we were younger. In fact, the shelf life is reported to be only 90-100 days under ideal conditions.

Gasoline containing ethanol should not be used in small engines as a matter of best practice. Most small engine repair outlets recommend that you do not use ethanol blended gasoline in your lawn and garden equipment. The problem with ethanol is that it is hygroscopic, meaning it will absorb water, and lots of it. Unfortunately the majority of the public are unaware of this fact. We all know that water in your fuel is a very bad thing. If you do use ethanol blended fuel and do not drain the fuel tank for winter, you should be cautious as to what stabilizer you use. Here is a link to a list of fuel additives and whether or not they contain alcohol. It is recommended that you use an additive that does not contain alcohol if you have ethanol blended gasoline.

Here are a couple of additive from my garage. The one on the left is my preferred winter use stabilizer and the other is for the rest of the year. There are myriad choices when it comes to fuel additives so you will have to do your own research and make a choice based on what fits your budget and needs best. Neither one of these products will prevent water absorption due to ethanol in the gasoline. In fact there are no products that can stop this from happening. What these products can do is to prevent some of the undesirable side effects of ethanol and/or extend the shelf life until the following season when the engine can be started again.

Remember, on small engines, the best policy is to drain the majority of fuel and run the carburetor dry. If you choose to leave the fuel in the tank then a fuel stabilizer is in order. If you use ethanol blended fuel be sure to avoid additives that contain alcohol.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more winter tips and have a great winter!