As winter approaches and the temperatures continue to drop, now is the time to start thinking about preparations for your fleet. Although construction equipment is designed to operate in frigid conditions, it still needs some extra attention to keep it operating with efficiency and to avoid costly downtime from preventable breakdowns. Here are some time-tested tips for keeping your construction equipment in great operating condition during the winter months.
Lubricants and Hydraulic Hoses
Before it gets too cold, install the correct engine, hydraulic, transmission, and final drive lubricants for your machine. Check each level to ensure they are fluid enough for proper flow. Never use oil that has been diluted with kerosene.
The outer wrapper of hydraulic hoses can crack when flexed in colder temperatures. The hoses will still function and carry oil, but to avoid having the hoses crack, condition them before the temps drop. For best results, apply an arctic hydraulic oil for colder months and normal machine use.
Store Equipment in Enclosed Facilities
When your equipment is not being used, it's ideal to keep it out of the elements for an easier start and fewer man-hours brushing off snow and ice. If you're not using your equipment during winter, make sure to detach any attachments and store them away to avoid damage to hinges and joints. Always keep your fluids and oils at room temperature to avoid freezing.
Try Block Heaters
A block heater is often the simplest way to fire up your engine in cold weather. It increases the temperatures of the engine and hydraulic fluid. You can also block the radiator to restrict cold air from the fan.
Keep Batteries Charged and Warm
Cold weather puts a lot of stress on batteries. The cold makes your batteries generate nearly twice as many cranking amps in order to turn over. If you’re working in sub-zero conditions, storing the battery indoors at room temperature will help a lot.
Use Starting Fluid
Keep all starting fluid at room temperature and inject it only while the engine is cranking. Starting fluids are highly flammable and toxic, so be cautious and make sure to store them properly. Never store your starting fluid in the operator’s compartment.
Always Let Your Engine Warm-Up
Help prevent the intake and exhaust valves from sticking by running your engine before you begin each day’s work. Wait until it reaches operating temperatures. Also, help your machine warm up by cycling through all of the machine’s functions to distribute warm oil until everything operates smoothly.
Conduct Visual Inspections
The easiest way to check if your electrical wiring, attachments, and hoses are wearing or being damaged is to take a look at each component before the start of each workday. Look for cracks, cuts, and worn spots on all hydraulic hoses, belts, and tires. Remove any snow, dirt, and debris from tires or undercarriages.
Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
To avoid a frozen fuel tank in the morning, always take the time to fill up at the end of each day. Keep your fuel storage tank clean of water, debris, and sediment by draining water from the water separator on a daily basis before refilling the tank.
By taking these steps to keep your machines running in the winter, you'll be better prepared for whatever weather comes your way.
Need to Rent or Buy Construction Equipment?
Headquartered in Southwest Iowa, Duke Rentals is locally owned and operated, supplying the Midwest with an extensive fleet of over 9000 machines. We provide rentals and sales of scissor lifts, boom lifts, telehandlers, industrial forklifts, light, and general dirt equipment. Whether you're a contractor, a homeowner, or anything in between, we've got the equipment you need to get the job done quickly and safely.