Exterior Home Appliance Maintenance and Safety
The appliances outside of your home should be properly cared for and used. These tips will help keep your exterior home appliances in good shape and prevent accidental injuries when using them.
Snowblower Maintenance Tips
During winter months you may be breaking out the snowblower. Consider the advice below if you own a snowblower so you can keep it in healthy working order.
Empty the fuel tank before using
The best practice is to empty the fuel tank at the end of each season, unless you add a fuel stabilizer into the tank. Failing to do so means putting the carburetor at risk of failure which will prevent the machine from starting up this season. Damage to the fuel lines is also possible.
You can still prevent these issues by servicing the blower before the season starts. Siphon out the old, unstable fuel that’s in your blower. Fill it back up with fresh fuel and add fuel stabilizer.
Inspect spark plugs and swap if damaged
It’s best to check the spark plug at the end of the season. However, check before winter starts and prior to starting up your blower. Clean out debris from around the spark plug. Remove it and wash with a plug cleaner and a wire brush.
The spark plug should be replaced if it is overly worn out. A build-up of wet deposits is a sign that the spark plug is no longer good. It can also be an indicator of a blown head gasket or another more serious issue. If the plug is corroding, definitely replace it right away.
An extensively worn spark plug will make it hard for the snowblower to start. If it does turn on, the performance will also be spotty and the fuel consumption will be greater. Furthermore, you will be putting other internal parts in the engine at risk of failure. A new plug is a cheap investment and should be done as a preventative measure.
Regulate the tire pressure
A snowblower is harder to push and maneuver around turns when the tire pressure is insufficient or imbalanced. Some newer blowers are made with airless tires but most are pneumatic and therefore the pressure needs to be regulated. While it depends on the model, the ideal pressure will be around 15 to 20 pounds per square inch (15-20 PSI). Check your owners manual for the proper tire pressure for your model.
You can use a bike pump with an integrated pressure gauge to inflate the tires to the right pressure level. Alternatively, a gaugeless pump with a tire pressure gauge can achieve the same result. Make sure not to put too much air in as it could cause the tire to pop.
Snowblower Safety Tips
Operating your snowblower safely is also very important. After all, approximately 3,000 Americans are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms as a result of snowblower-related accidents.
Wear the right clothing and footwear
Loose, baggy clothes are more likely to get caught in your snowblower. You can still wear snow pants but a tight pair of denim jeans over them is a good idea. You can also look for thermal winter wear to go under your jacket to keep warm.
A quality pair of winter boots will help prevent accidental slips which are a leading cause of snowblower-related injuries. A pair of slip-on snow and ice grips (“ice cleats”) can further enhance the slip resistance of your footwear.
Prevent and manage clogs
Keep at a steady and consistent pace when operating the snowblower. Don’t push forward too fast but make sure to keep going with some momentum. To best reduce the risk of a snowblower clog, plow the same area multiple times on days with heavy and consistent snowfall.
What should you do if your snowblower suddenly clogs?
Cut power to the blower immediately. Wait for the blades to completely stop and then attempt to clear the clogged snow. Do not do this with your hands. Use a stick or similar object because the augur can still operate briefly when the machine is off. Otherwise, you are putting yourself at risk of injury.
Look over the area first
You should canvas the area before the snowfall starts. It’s harder to determine whether any foreign objects are in the way once the ground is covered in snow. However, an inspection of the area you plan to plow should also be done before you start up your machine.
Many items can get caught up in your snowblower. These objects could go flying and hurt someone or break a window. They may also cause damage to your snowblower. Some examples of what to watch out for include extension cords, newspapers, and rocks.
Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
Below, we will go over some crucial maintenance tips that every lawn mower owner should know. Keep in mind that the specific maintenance requirements will vary depending on the make and model of your mower. Check your owner’s manual to figure out what should be done and how often.
Keep the blades clean and sharp
Debris can accumulate on the blades which will hinder performance. The result is faster wear and tear to the blades. You should clean them before every use to best uphold their physical condition.
Also, you should always check to see if the blades are still sharp.
When lawn mower blades begin to dull, they will no longer effectively cut grass and can cause your lawn to have a burnt beige look. Sharpening should be done once a year at a minimum.
Check out this blade sharpening guide and make sure to take safety precautions with dealing with sharp components of your mower.
Give the mower a thorough cleaning
Lawn mower blade maintenance is important but the whole unit should also be cleaned thoroughly a few times annually. You can wash down your lawn mower with your garden hose. Do not forget to wash out the underside of the deck.
It’s also recommended to periodically clean the engine of your lawn mower with engine degreaser. You should remove the spark plug before you begin for safety purposes. The engine screen and blower housing will also need to be taken out to gain access to the engine. Then, use a brush to scrub the engine with cold water and degreaser.
Read this lawn mower cleaning guide for more advice.
Make sure the spark plug is in good shape
A dirty or loose spark plug will cause performance issues for your lawn mower. The result is a reduced fuel efficiency, issues starting, and a rougher cut for your lawn. Your lawn mower will not work if the spark plug burns out. Therefore, you should make sure it is in good shape.
It’s recommended to inspect the spark plug at the beginning of the season. You can use a brake cleaner to wash out any dirt on the plug. This type of cleaner can also help clean up a spark plug that has signs of corrosion.
You should replace the plug with a new one if your lawn mower does not perform well after cleaning it. While the cause could be something else, the spark plug is usually the cheapest fix so this should be tried before further diagnosing any issue.
Lawn Mower Safety Tips
Maintenance aside, knowing how to safely operate your lawn mower is also important. Take a look below at three crucial safety tips that every lawn mower owner should know.
Accessorize yourself to prevent injuries
Your shoes should have closed toes and slip-protected soles. It is dangerous to operate a lawn mower with open-toed shoes (such as sandals) or without any footwear. It’s also recommended that you wear pants instead of shorts to avoid injury from flying debris or objects.
Hearing damage is also a concern when operating a lawn mower. Gas-powered mowers range from 90dB to 110dB approximately which is in the range where hearing damage is possible. The longer your ears are exposed to this sound, the more likely damage will occur. Get a quality set of noise-cancelling headphones (and even enjoy listening to music) when mowing your lawn.
Watch out for objects when mowing
Do a quick look over your yard before you begin to mow. Make sure to pick any small objects that are lingering in your lawn. Check any tall grass patches thoroughly to ensure no hidden items are present.
Also, it is important to know what to do if you accidentally hit an object. Stop yourself dead in your tracks and power off the lawn mower. Check if there is any damage to the mower before starting it back up and continuing to mow. If any damage has occurred, do not use the mower again until it is fixed.
Consider buying a safer lawn mower
Is your lawn mower outdated? If so, there are many options on the market today that come with safety equipment attachments. It might make sense to make the investment. This idea is especially recommended if you allow your older child to operate the mower.
For starters, a grass catcher will help eliminate any flying debris from potentially injuring your legs or feet. A lawn mower guard will help prevent any flying objects from going airborne if they are accidentally run over. A lawn mower shield will help you to avoid running over these objects in the first place.
Barbecue Grill Maintenance Tips
Your barbecue will get extensive use throughout the summer season or the entire year if you live in warmer climates. There are some best practices that you should follow every so often. Take a look at the tips below which cover what to do every time you use it, after every 10 uses, and before or after every season.
Allow your barbecue to fully preheat when turning it on to get rid of the residual dirt and grime on the grill. Use your barbecue brush to get rid of any remaining residue. After taking the cooked food off, put the temperature at the highest level possible to burn the leftover grease. Cover the barbecue once it is no longer hot.
Every 10 uses
Take the grates out and give them a thorough washing. Use your barbecue brush to scrub clean the drip pan. Clean up the metal barriers that are positioned under the grates. Reinstall the grates and any other components. Allow the barbecue to heat up until the grill is producing little to no smoke before using again.
Once a season or year
At the end of the season…
Take out the grates and metal barrier underneath and wash them in warm, soapy water. Use your BBQ brush to scrub inside of your grill. Turn on the barbecue and inspect the quality of the flames. Uneven flames are an indicator of dirty burners which you will need to take out and clean (pipe cleaners will help).
You can hit the burner against the ground with the open side facing down to get rid of any debris that’s resting inside. Put them back in and make sure the flames are even. Repeat the process until you get even flames.
Put everything back together and heat up the barbecue until everything has dried. If you’re done with your barbecue until next year, unhook it from the gas supply. Take out the propane tank and store it in a ventilated environment. Cover the barbecue and store it away until it’s BBQing season again.
Note: Year-round BBQers should follow this advice every four to six months.
Barbecue Safety Tips
Thousands of Americans head to the ER each year as a result of barbecue-related accidents. Some basic safety tips can help you to prevent making the same mistakes. Take a look below and keep these pointers in mind when using your grill.
Avoid turning on with a closed lid
Gas grills should only be turned on when the lid is open. Otherwise, an accumulation of gas can fill inside of the grill. A “fireball” could shoot up into your face and cause injury when you open up the lid.
Keep a spray bottle and extinguisher close
A spray bottle full of water near your barbecue is a good idea. You can spray into the grill whenever the flame starts to flare up. While minor flare ups are not a major concern, suppressing them is a good idea. The fire extinguisher will be your go-to solution when things get out of hand. Keep one outside with you when operating the barbecue. An out of control flame can spread pretty far by the time you run in the house and come back with one.
Put the barbecue in the right spot
Aside from accidental injuries, poor use of a barbecue can also increase the risk of a sudden fire to your home. It’s recommended that you position your barbecue at least 10 feet from any structure. Whether it’s a charcoal or gas grill, the risk of sudden fire is there and you do not want it to cause damage to your property. Further, you should avoid placing your barbecue below a wooden deck or similar structure.
All appliances should be properly maintained and safely used. Whether it's your lawn mower, snowblower, or barbecue—take the time to educate yourself on the best maintenance and safety practices.
Safety always comes first…
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