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Frequently Asked Questions

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Engine Operation/Maintenance Safety

What are some safety tips to follow when operating and maintaining a small engine?

Small engines must burn fuel and induce electricity. Each of these involves special safely considerations - so you need to observe the precautions for both. Keep the following rules in mind, and you will simplify the job of safely operating, maintaining and repairing your small engine.

Operating Conditions

If you need to run an engine to test your maintenance or repair work:

  • Never run an engine indoors.

  • Turn off the engine before leaving the area - even for a few seconds.

  • Do not operate the engine in dry grass or near combustible material, gasoline or other flammable liquids.

  • Keep combustible materials away from the muffler.

  • Avoid running an engine at high speeds or in excess of the manufacturer's specifications.

  • Make sure the muffler is in place before starting the engine.

  • Pull the starter cord slowly until you feel resistance, then pull rapidly to start; this helps prevent injury to your hand and arm.

  • Do not crank the engine with the spark plug removed if the engine is flooded, place the throttle in the FAST position and crank until the engine starts.

  • To stop the engine, gradually reduce engine speed. Then, turn the key to OFF or move the controls to the OFF or STOP position.

  • When operating equipment on unimproved land covered by grass or bush, install a spark arrester - - designed to trap sparks discharged from the engine.

  • Keep equipment flat on the ground when it is operating. Never tilt it at a sharp angle.

  • Keep hands and feet away from moving or rotating parts on the engine or equipment.

Gasoline Safety

The only place where engine fuel and sparks should interact is in the combustion chamber. To reduce fire hazards:

  • Never light a match or other flammable material near an engine.

  • Avoid using power tools or other equipment that generates sparks where fuel vapors may be present.

  • Allow the engine to cool before removing the fuel cap or filling the tank.

  • Replace a fuel line or fitting if it is leaky or cracked.

  • Keep gasoline, solvents and other flammables out of reach of children. Store gasoline in UL-approved non-spill containers. Label flammable materials containers clearly for quick identification.

  • Never smoke while using, servicing or refueling an engine.

Safe Maintenance

To make small engine maintenance and repair tasks easier and safer:

  • Make sure you have ample work space, with easy access to the tools you need.

  • Use the correct tools for each job

  • Keep an approved fire extinguisher in a familiar location near you work area.

  • Learn engine shutoff procedures so you can respond quickly in an emergency.

  • Disengage the cutting blade, wheels or other equipment, if possible, before starting the engine.

  • Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting when you are servicing the engine.

  • Always disconnect the wire from the negative terminal when servicing an electric starter motor.

  • Check that a spark plug or spark plug tester is attached to the engine before cranking.

  • Avoid contact with hot engine parts, such as the muffler, cylinder head or cooling fins.

  • Never strike the flywheel with a hammer or hard object; it may cause the flywheel to shatter during operation.

  • Make sure the air cleaner assembly and blower housing are in place before starting the engine.

  • Remove any fuel from the tank and close the fuel shutoff valve before transporting an engine.

  • Use only the original manufacturer's replacement parts; any other parts may damage the engine and create safety hazards.

  • Keep engine speed settings within manufacturer specifications. High speeds can ruin the engine.

Protecting Your Health

Fire, electric shock and asphyxiation are not the only dangers when working with small engines. Take care to avoid long-term or sudden injury to your eyes, ears, lungs, feet and back:

  • Keep your feet, hands and clothing away from moving engine and equipment components.

  • Use eye protection when you work with engines or power tools.

  • Wear ear protection to reduce the risk of gradual hearing loss from exposure to engine noise.

  • Wear a face mask, if required, when working with chemicals.

  • Wear specially designed gloves to protect against heat, harmful chemicals and sharp objects.

  • Wear safety shoes to protect against falling objects; Safety shoes have soles that won't deteriorate when exposed to gasoline or oil.

  • Use proper lifting techniques and seek help with heavy lifting.

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